Monday, May 05, 2014

Miami Dolphins Confidential Issue 5 O-Line

The offseason goal of every team in the NFL is to improve their team.  The primary wave of free agency has passed. Next up will be the NFL draft followed by the bargain shopping in the free agency after the draft. GM’s and fans alike tend to focus on the new additions to the team when trying to get a feel for how much improvement the team will show.  However, a very important aspect of the success of all teams will hinge on how the players remaining on their rosters from the prior season improve or decline.  We at Bitchin Dave’s thought it would add some intrigue to the offseason lull to have a discussion on where we feel the team is at and where they are headed.

The prognosticators will be Carl “The Ref” Leone , Chad “ The Baumhower” Ronnebaum and some Richard ”Macho” Machado“. We will be having a position by position debate on where the Dolphins ranked in 2013 as well as where we see them ranking at the end of 2014.  We are going to start with our pre-draft rankings and then will update this post draft and probably once or twice prior to the start of season as the final free agent signings and injuries shape the team during training camp and the preseason.

Scale: We are using a 10 point scale to rank where we felt the positions ranked against the rest of league in 2013 as well as where we predict they will rank in 2014.  5 out of 10 for example would mean we rank the unit as about the 15-16th best unit in the league.  10 out of 10 would basically feature pro bowl players at the top of the league and 0 out of 10 would be dead last or the worst unit in the league. Issue Five will review the Offensive Line.

Offensive Line

                                                                       Chad’s Take                           Carl’s Take                 Richard’s Take

2013 Position Rank
0 out 10                          -58 out of 10             0 out of 10
2014 Prediction
5 out 10                         5 to 7 out of 10        6 out of 10


Predicted Depth Chart
2014 Improvement/Decline Prediction
Branden Albert
+4                                               +3                             +3
Mike Pouncey
-3                                                +.5                             0
Shelley Smith
+2                                               +.5                             +.5
Sam Brenner/Dallas Thomas/Jason Fox
+2                                               +1                              0
Nate Garner
0                                        CUT For Draft Pick           0

Chad: We had a playoff team if our O-Line would have even been at least average.

Carl: We would’ve made the playoffs if they were even below average. They were horrible and graded out as the worst unit in the league. The worst!!!

Chad: I agree Carl. At my house rather than saying I have to go take a #2 we are now saying I have go take a 2013 OLine.
Chad: Branden Albert is a solid pro bowl LT.  I give the addition of him an immediate +4. I would go +5, but he has some injury risk. 

Carl: Albert was a huge addition. That move takes some pressure off the draft and keeps Tannehill from having to look over his shoulder every time he drops back to pass. He definitely adds at least 3 points to this unit which what I gave him.

Chad: Shelly Smith is hard to judge since he is a scheme fit without a lot playing time.  I don’t think anyone knows at this point if he will be a right or left guard. I think he is almost surely an upgrade over the out of shape John Jerry.

Carl: I would be an upgrade over Jerry.

Chad:  I give him an upgrade over Incognito as well, based on Incognito’s massive off the field distraction for 2013.

Carl: Well, I know what happened happened but if we are just talking ability on the field, Incognito was pretty damn good. An idiot but pretty damn good.

Chad: Shelly came off as a smart hard working guy in his interview and I give him a +2 over 2013 guards. Mike Pouncey is a talented center. However, I am very troubled by his off the field issues.  He was tied to Aaron Hernandez and was also tied to both drugs and bullying in the Wells report.  At this stage we don’t know if he will be punished by league or even if he has legal troubles for connections to weapons trading.  Right now his actions make him someone I have a hard time pulling for as a fan. He is currently the most risky player on the team to cause a distraction. I have also heard reports about him wanting a new deal after the Alex Mack deal.  Are you serious Mike? How about put your head down and get to work for the next couple seasons and quit embarrassing the team before you worry about that.  -3 based on possible suspensions.  I would go -5 if he was not exceptionally gifted. 

Carl: Glad to see you don’t hold any grudges Chad. I wouldn’t want to piss you off. Let’s face it, Pouncey is near the top of the league and I believe he will actually play even better with some better talent around him. With that being said, I give him a half point for making another Pro Bowl and maybe even making his first All-Pro team. The team just exercised our 5th year option on him and that should make him work for that 2nd contract. We will benefit from that added motivation. I don’t think he will be a distraction nor get suspended.

Chad: I see Jason Fox, Sam Brenner, Dallas Thomas and Nate Garner all as solid backups. Fox has the ability to play right tackle for us but has never really been healthy.  Brenner played ok as a rookie and I look for him to improve and compete for a starting guard spot. Overall I give them a +1 on potential to improve from 2013.

Carl: I like Brenner a lot. We should start calling him “Yul the Mule” Brenner. I am sure these guys have been busting their humps knowing we are looking at O-Line help in the draft.

Chad: I am pretty confident the team will add at least 2 more players in the draft and free agency. Probably both a guard and tackle. These players will almost surely be upgrades as well since they are replacing poor players.

Carl: We are drafting a Tackle and Guard. And I wouldn’t doubt we sign Bryant McKinnie as a free agent. I believe our O-Line will be ranked in the top 3rd of the league with a couple decent new faces. Imagine Zack Martin at Right Guard and McKinnie at Right Tackle with Pro Bowl players in Albert and Pouncey  Keep in mind, we can still get solid capable players in the 2nd to 4th rounds in this draft to play the right side. Wow, cannot wait to get into our Draft Issue Chad. I just cannot wait!!

Richard: It’s hard to imagine but the Dolphins will be having 2 pro bowl offensive lineman next season. Albert and Pouncey play the arguably two most important positions on the line. Add in the fact that a Zack Martin might be joining the group and it could have 3 very solid players. And that is all you really need really. There is not a single offensive line that can have 5 studs all the way around, so having one or two average or a little below average player is normal. Plus they will both be guards. I think this group improves the most.

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As long as our oline isnt on ecstacy and cocaine hangovers like last year, and the guys can develop some chemistry (I cant seem to spell comradery), then Tannethrill can stay upright, and reGardless of whose starting......we ARE a playoff team. Word.


I agree Rick. On paper our Defense looks better than last year and we basically have the same offensive. If they can at least get back to the middle of the pack on the o-line we should be very competitive. Of course injuries change things every year.


Chemistry is good Rick.