Written by Matthew Cannata | Twitter: PhinManiacs
The Miami Dolphins offensive line is filled with injuries but the coaching staff is determined to keep on making it work. They've already done a good job of plugging guys in positions where they will have the most success. With only five weeks left, the players can't stop improving.
“It is challenging. I think our offensive line coaches are doing a great job. I think our offensive linemen are doing a great job," said Bill Lazor. "It takes a lot of communication to get it done. At times, it was a loud stadium and, when you’re going on the silent count, there is a lot of work it takes to get everyone on the same page. I think they are doing a nice job of it. We aren’t perfect obviously, but I think when you are shuffling your tackles around and playing against the caliber of outside rushers that we played against yesterday and the week before, it’s a concern. They’re not perfect, but they are battling."
During the game against the Denver Broncos, we saw Shelley Smith and Daryn Colledge split reps at guard. Lazor said that it was partially because Colledge was coming back from an injury and partially because that Smith has played well so they wanted to reward him.
Lazor also talked about Dallas Thomas and Jason Fox as both players have been thrown into action against some of the best pass rushers in the league. Thomas has been battling for the past two weeks while Fox was thrown in at left tackle after Ja'Wuan James went down against Denver.
"I think Dallas Thomas continues to improve, again, not perfect. He had a couple of struggles early in the game. I think he overcame them. I think he played better as the game went on. I think it was his best game run-blocking that he’s had, so that was good. When Jason Fox had a chance to go in, again, not perfect, but there were a lot of the things that we were still able to do. He was in there for a two-minute drive there at the end where (Denver) knew we were going be throwing the ball, and we threw it. We threw some seven-step drops and he held his own. I’m proud of how they are playing, I really am.”
You can also count Joe Philbin as one who thought Fox did well and competed hard, although he admitted that he still has some work to do before firmly establishing himself as a long-term option on the line.
“I thought he competed hard. I thought he did all right. It wasn’t perfect. The offensive line overall wasn’t perfect, but I thought there was some good things. I thought he kind of went in there. We didn’t have to adjust nine million things and that says a lot about anybody who enters a game kind of as a sub.”
The reason for the line's success even with all the injuries? Lazor said that it goes back to training camp when they were moving guys around in different positions as they tried to find the best fit for each one.
"That’s not how you want to do it, but that’s the reality of knowing most games you have seven active, so you better have some flexibility. I think the guys that we have are real pros, and that includes our young guys. I think they have really bought in to how you have to play, how you have to work together. So I’m proud of how they are playing, the effort they are giving. Again, we are not perfect, but we are getting better.”
John Benton, offensive line coach, also deserves a ton of credit for really turning this line around and getting them to keep on playing hard despite everything that's going on around them. There's plenty of confidence at team headquarters that regardless of who is playing, the coaches will get them to play to their maximum potential.