For the Miami Dolphins, so much of the success of the offense has hinged on how efficiently the offensive line plays. Of course, this is also true for every team in the NFL. Take for example the Dallas Cowboys, a team that for the past three seasons has been the poster child for mediocrity, finishing with three consecutive 8-8 records, has now been crowned the NFC East Champions thanks in large part to their now elite offensive line.
While the Dolphins line cannot even hold a candle to the Cowboys line, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor feels that the offensive line isn't necessarily as bad as many people make it out to be. Lazor talked about the line's performance against the Vikings to explain what he meant regarding protecting the quarterback and run-blocking.
"I thought overall we protected the quarterback pretty well. I think at halftime our running average was pretty good. In the second half it seemed like some of our runs were situational runs down near the goal-line and 3rd-and-one, so they were very effective runs though they weren’t long-yardage types of runs." said Lazor. "If they got you two yards in that situation, you count it as a victory. So maybe our average didn’t end what it was at halftime, but I thought we ran the ball well enough."
The fact that Lazor is bringing up the necessity to run the ball is quite telling, because once again he is bringing up the fact that it requires a balance of both running and passing to make an offense run efficiently, and give the line an easier time against the opposing defense.
"It’s hard to pass protect when the other team doesn’t think you are going to run it, let’s face it. I thought they did a pretty good job at the end of the game. I feel like they are still getting better too, which is kind of exciting." said Lazor. "You have guys like Jason Fox (who) hasn’t played a whole lot for us. He goes out there, and I thought he did a pretty good job. I’m sure he can tell you there were some plays, especially early, where he thought he could have done better, but I thought Minnesota pressured us a lot."
The offensive line faced a lot of adversity throughout the year, and even before the season started. With a couple of players who were originally meant to be key players on the line getting hurt before the season began, the team was prompted to look for outside help. One such example is guard Daryn Colledge, who signed a one-year deal to act as a necessary stop-gap.
“I think he’s part of a great story for us on the offensive line. When you think, I believe it might have been, I’ll probably get the date wrong, late June we had a work out and Samson Satele and Daryn Colledge were part of that workout. I think I was probably on the beach up in New Jersey with my family or something when it happened." said Lazor. "Coach Philbin and John Benton were there and you talk about guys who at that point were free agents, out on the street and then when you look back at the end of the season and see how many games they’ve played for us."
Lazor also mentioned that he is highly appreciative of the veteran presence on the line, as it provides a sort of example for how the younger players should carry themselves.
"It was very evident for me in the first preseason game, when you walk over to where the O-Line (offensive line) sits on the bench, how they handle themselves on game day. I don’t think you could underestimate how important that is for the team and you have some younger players who now are playing, Dallas Thomas and Ja’Wuan James, guys who are new to the NFL, to see how these pros handle it." said Lazor. "Obviously, Mike Pouncey gets added into the group once he gets healthy. Branden (Albert) was there too, but I think it’s a great story with how those guys came in kind of from all different places, all different ways, all at different times and have provided a lot for us.”
True enough, having veterans around is always a good thing. It does indeed provide experienced examples for the younger players, but there are also instances when the young raw talent may actually be better than what is already there. Could Billy Turner be better than Daryn Colledge? We don't know. We do however know that veteran Jason Fox did much better at right tackle than Dallas Thomas, and so the question arises as to why Thomas continued to get starts over Fox.
While Lazor did briefly mention that Fox did well, there was never any sort of huge endorsement that suggests that he will get to play again in place of Dallas Thomas since supposedly the only reason Fox got to play was because Thomas was injured. Why does the team love Dallas Thomas so much? We may never know for sure. Hopefully in the upcoming season, the team will throw the best players out onto the field, not the preferred ones.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater