Featured Column > The Drive - Written by Matthew Cannata
On Monday, the Miami Dolphins signed offensive guard Daryn Colledge to a one-year deal.
Colledge, who is 32 years old, was drafted in the second round by the Green Bay Packers in 2006. Since then, he has not missed a single game, putting his streak at 128 consecutive games. Colledge played for the Packers until 2010 so Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is familiar with him and vice-versa. During his time there, Philbin was the offensive line coach and then later became the offensive coordinator. Following his stint with the Packers, Colledge played for the Arizona Cardinals until 2013. He was a salary cap casualty as he was slated to earn over $5 million dollars this season.
Last season, Colledge was rated as the 42nd-best guard in the NFL last season by ProFootballFocus.com. To put that into perspective, he was rated three spots above John Jerry but a whopping 17 spots below Richie Incognito and Shelley Smith. With that said, he only gave up three sacks, seven QB hits but 15 QB hurries. He had an overall grade of -4.6 with a pass block grade of -1.4 and a run block grade of -0.7.
Before getting excited about the possibility of Colledge playing center, there’s one important thing that you need to know. Colledge has never played center in the NFL – not one snap. He has spent his entire career playing the offensive guard position – primarily at left guard while also filling in at times at left and right tackle. So why then did the Dolphins bring him in if they are trying to replace Mike Pouncey for at least the first several weeks of the season?
It’s all about having flexibility. If you’ve paid attention to Philbin, you know how much he loves position flexibility – especially on the offensive line. By signing Colledge, the Dolphins can mix and match quite a few different pieces on the interior part of the line.
For example, they can move Smith to the center position. Smith has been taking reps at center during the offseason camps and is smart enough to handle the calls at the line. If they did that, Dallas Thomas would most likely hang onto the starting left guard position and then it would likely be a battle at right guard between Billy Turner, Sam Brenner, Nate Garner and Colledge.
If they don’t move Smith over to center, they can see how Colledge adapts to the position. They can also throw Brenner and Garner in the mix to compete with him. Last season, Garner filled in for two games when Pouncey was sidelined and on the surface, did a good job. He didn’t allow any sacks, QB hits and QB pressures. His overall grade in those two games was -1.4. His pass block grade was 1.6 and his run block grade was -3.2. However, we don’t know how he did with the calls on the line and whether or not his calls led to any breakdowns in protection.
One would think that Garner’s lack of experience and perhaps intelligence when making calls at the line is the case reason why the Dolphins are working hard to find a replacement because if it was as easy as moving Garner in that spot, I’m not so sure that Colledge is signed so quickly. While it’s true they may have signed someone for depth anyways, I don’t think it would be this early. Signing Colledge now gives him plenty of time to catch up on the offense before training camp begins and gets him ready to be full steam ahead when the pads come on in just a few weeks.
This could also end up being a depth signing once training camp gets going and one of the young guys steps up their game. In an ideal situation, that would be the case as we all want to see development and the younger guys on the team taking a more prominent role on the team as the Dolphins head into the future.
However, at the end of the day, the bottom line is that the Dolphins have a lot of different combinations they can put together on the interior part of the line. However, if the coaching staff tinkers with it too much during the opening days of training camp, they may end up digging themselves into a hole. It is important that they take the first few days of camp to really figure out who is going to play where and then keep the guys together so they can start to form chemistry and learn how to work together.
While having lots of combinations is a good thing on paper, it can turn into a nightmare if not properly managed.