The Miami Dolphins offensive line only gave up two sacks on Monday against the New York Jets and have been working hard to improve each and every week. The line, which has suffered various injuries throughout the season, has seen various players at numerous positions over the past 12 weeks.
One of the more interesting things we have seen on the offensive line has to do with the rotation at left guard between Daryn Colledge and Shelley Smith. The Dolphins continued to do that on Monday and Bill Lazor explained why they are going to continue to do that moving forward.
“I think as we said when Daryn (Colledge) came back that Shelley Smith was playing at a good level. We wanted him to have a chance to keep playing and contributing. A little bit like we talked about with the receivers, I know usually with the offensive line you don’t do that as much, but right now we feel like we have some guys who can play. When Samson came out, it was pretty easy transition to move Mike (Pouncey) back to center and Shelley went in. Now we have another guy who has been in the game who has warmed up and is ready to go. We just have confidence in him, and hopefully it’s keeping him fresh and helping us be productive."
Despite the struggles from the offense throughout the majority of the game, Lazor said that he thought the line played pretty well, especially considering the fact that the Jets knew what the Dolphins were going to do on offense most of the time.
"I thought the line played pretty well. Our run production early in the game didn’t show up. I think we had a poor run on our first run. Our second run was a good run, but we had a penalty on it. Two three-and-out drives, so our opportunities for the run, some of it is how the play-calling goes. Some of it is that we didn’t sustain the drive, but I think overall there were a couple of pressures. One of the sacks really came from the offensive line. One I would say didn’t, but I thought they played certainly well enough to score more than that. I thought they played well at the end just like the whole team did. They pass protected at the end of the game. They run blocked at the end of the game, and I thought that was the biggest takeaway. I’m proud of them.”
Losing a player like Branden Albert at the left tackle position, the most important spot on the line, is never easy but Ja'Wuan James has done a nice job transitioning to that side. In addition, others such as Dallas Thomas have stepped up to the challenge and have been holding their own. Lazor has been impressed and likes the way the younger guys have stepped up when their name has been called.
“I think as a group, as an offense, coaches and players we understand when you lose a player like Branden Albert there’s going to be some change, some things are different. So everyone has to take part of the burden. Sometimes it’s the quarterback sliding in the pocket. Sometimes it’s the coaches deciding to give a little help to the tackles, sometimes its guys a first and second year player who are young guys saying it’s time to grow up and go and I think all those things have happened. It’s been enough for us to get to where we are, but it’s got to keep getting better I think and this week isn’t going to be an easy one for them I don’t think, so all those things I think have to help us.”
The offensive line will now face the dangerous Baltimore Ravens defense on Sunday and will need to continue to improve to give the offense a chance to make some noise and put some points up on the board early and often.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs