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Will the OL be our weak link again?

Discussion in 'Miami Dolphins Forum' started by Galant, Aug 17, 2022.

  1. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity

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    I recently saw this older video from Brian Baldinger looking at McDaniel's run game with the 49ers.



    Good stuff.

    As I watched, though, one thought kept coming to mind - can our OL block like that?

    We've only had one pre-season game which mostly features our backups so we really don't have much to go on, but, what we did see wasn't great.

    There's a recent video from a guy called Barry Cunningham that's maybe a bit on the negative side but points out some issues with Coleman at backup LT and other members of the OL that don't look good...



    Last year we were worst in the league. This year I was hoping we could approach average.
    I'm a strong believer that the OL, perhaps more than any other unit, depends upon cohesive play and that an average line that is well coached and plays together can perform at an above average standard. Similarly, a sub-standard line in terms of talent can perform at an average standard in the same way.

    We've had a coaching change, so I hope that's a positive move, time will tell, but, in terms of talent, I can't help but think that for all the defensive talent he finds, Grier just can't draft for the OL. He seems to be a trait guy, looking for athleticism (or some other trait of the day), but it doesn't necessarily translate well to on-field success.

    Here's our draft history, OL in purple:

    upload_2022-8-17_8-46-33.png upload_2022-8-17_8-48-28.png

    Obviously, this wasn't all Grier, but seriously, most of these names are all gone and forgotten. There are drafts with no OL at all. The ones we have picked, generally haven't been great. It's not good.

    Grier needs to recognise he and/or his scouts can't draft offensive linemen to save their lives and they need to do something about it.

    And yes, I'm still chafed over the Hunter Long pick when there were decent OL picks still to be had. We moved up to Eichenberg at 42, I won't fault him for that because he promised to be good (and hopefully he will be), but:

    Creed Humphrey, who looks set to be elite, was on the board and eventually went at 63.
    Josh Myers isn't great but so far looks at least as good as Eich and he went at 62.
    Brady Christensen has also done well, he went at 70.
    Later on there was Kendrick Green, again, not great, but rates around the same as Eich except he went at 87.
    Ah, and let's not forget Spencer Brown on the Bills. He has been doing very well and went at 93.
    Robert Hainsey went to the Bucs at 95 and he rates substantially higher than Eichenberg.
    But the one that really grates is Quinn Meinerz. Drafted 98th to the Broncos. He stepped up into a starting role when called on and has done admirably.

    I said I'll give Grier a pass on Eichenberg, there's still time for him, and the coaching last year was questionable at best. Plus, I can't complain about not building an OL and then also about moving up to grab someone. Draft picks always involve risk.

    What I will say, however, is that the pick of Hunter Long at 81 was ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. I get it, Grier was trying to hit a home run by finding Gesicki's replacement before needing to pay him and providing offensive weaponry at low cost. That's nice and all, but had he not seen our OL? Did he really think web had the luxury space for a cute move?

    This is what I mean about not valuing the position. Put depth to one side, we needed, and still need, starter upgrades, yet Grier spent a 3rd rounder on a pass catching TE? We could have had any of those OL guys mentioned above. We might have been able to have two. Instead we got Long...

    Sorry. It bugs me. I'll move on.

    The point is this, if we're going to have a varied and technical offense that balances run and pass and that has a strong focus on precision performance, we can't have offensive linemen who struggle with the basics.

    I'm still hopeful we'll see a leap forward this year and the OL won't be a massive liability. However, if I had to keep an eye on one unit with a bit of paranoia, it will be the OL.

    What do you think guys?
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2022
  2. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity

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    For those of us who might have forgotten what good OL play looks like:

     
  3. KeyFin

    KeyFin Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    I expect the line to be fairly good this year- not great, not terrible. Probably middle of the pack. Technique and scheme will both play a huge factor since we won't be asking rookies to do the seemingly impossible.

    Not going to go into huge detail, I'm down at the moment with a good bout of COVID, but the line is shaping up nicely so far. I think the weak link the past two years was coaching and fundamentals- we just didn't have them. Both Eichenberg and Jackson have looked much better so far this season in training camp. Plus Hunt was already fairly solid.

    I agree though, we should have taken Creed Humphries in the 2nd round- he was clearly the best center in the nation and he'll pay dividends for a long time. On paper though, Eichenberg looked just as dominant, so I understand why we did what we did.
     
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  4. hitman8

    hitman8 Well-Known Member

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    Short answer, yes. I believe the oline will be our weak link once again. I don't think we'll be as bad as last year, but we will struggle to be even average given where we are at the center, LG, and RT positions. Grier and our scouting have to be the worst in the league at drafting oline. In the last 7 drafts we've drafted only 1 decently good lineman in Hunt, the rest have been below average to outright terrible.

    However, I think the lack of emphasis on improving the oline is by design. It seems Grier is of the mind that olines are not that important in today's NFL. I completely disagree.
     
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  5. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity

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    If Armstead gets injured we're basically back to square one. I'm not convinced by Williams at center.
     
  6. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team DeVante Club Member

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    The OL is going to be a concern until they prove that its fixed. I think that so far, its fair to have hope that it will be improved and, barring injury, should be better than we've seen in a while. But its also reasonable to think that middle of the pack is probably the ceiling for now.
     
  7. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity

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  8. texanphinatic

    texanphinatic Senior Member

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    The way they played under Flores, I'd take middle of the pack in a heartbeat.
     
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  9. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team DeVante Club Member

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    He and his coaching staff were pathetic. We shall see.
     
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  10. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity

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    Even with good coaching I'm not sure this personnel can cut it. And if Armstead gets injured we're back to square one. William's at center wasn't the best move.

    I'd be more comfortable with Armstead, Williams at guard and a centre drafted or brought in. Then Hunt and Eich.
     
  11. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team DeVante Club Member

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    I know that a lot of us disagree on this, but I think that people are far too harsh on the natural abilities of the young players. We took a number of guys who were fairly highly rated by a majority of the league, and so far none of them have panned out. While it could be really bad luck, I truly believe that a lot of it was coaching and enviornment, and had they been drafted onto better teams, most of them would have produced at least average results thus far.
     
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  12. hitman8

    hitman8 Well-Known Member

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    Eichenbergh has a strength and athleticism problem, and Jackson has a strength and technique problem. They were both highly flawed prospects who were overdrafted by a clueless FO when it comes to evaluating linemen.
     
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  13. KeyFin

    KeyFin Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Cool that Curtis posted that since I didn't get to see the game. Just a few random observations:

    • I disagree that he was overpowered in ANY of those snaps; his technique was lousy and he had to work twice as hard. However, he did not give up a sack or a negative play in any of those...which means he gets a passing grade.
    • The reason his technique stunk was partially because he doesn't know the playbook...and I'm saying that as a fact. As LG, he reads the inside gap or the man in front of him, then he's off to a LB on run plays. The first play, he went for the outside LB towards the left hash, but there was nobody there because the play went to the right. I counted four times he was completely out of position off of a single read...he didn't know the plays.
    • The straight legs or the wide stances Curtis mentioned, I agree that's bad form. However, his defender didn't cross the LOS on those plays and Eichenberg was fighting for his life....there's no shame in struggling against someone with better leverage. He held his own and those were positive plays.
    The big takeaway here is that Eichenberg held his own with bad form and not knowing the playbook. That's huge, massive, because he would have been beaten on several of those plays last year. It's easy to watch film and say someone should stay low, keep their feet moving, keep a balanced stance, etc...but it's completely different when a 300 pound man is trying to run you over. It reminds me of Mike Tyson's quote- everyone's a fighter until they get punched in the mouth. That absolutely applies here as well.

    Despite the obvious problems Curtis pointed out, I'd give Eichenberg a B- on just the plays we saw in the film. The kid's a fighter and he fought...there's not much more to say there. But it's also encouraging because as he masters the playbook, the plays will begin to slow down and that technique can really kick in. I've told you guy so many times that as a lineman, you can't think...you just have to explode and react. Eichenberg couldn't do that because he didn't know who he was supposed to block. So this is promising anyway, he could absolutely be the guy at LG by the time the season starts.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents.
     
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  14. Dol-Fan Dupree

    Dol-Fan Dupree Tank? Who is Tank? I am Guy Incognito.

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    Williams at center is the best move for this offense.
     
  15. texanphinatic

    texanphinatic Senior Member

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    Wasn't Hunter Long a Flores guy? Like the story was that we had no real interest in him but Flores went to BC's pro day to scout someone else and came back saying we had to draft Long? I could be wrong, but that's what I thought the story on that left field pick was. Also, the only draft with no OL was last years abbreviated draft. Creed was the obvious miss - it's crazy how he went so low in general.

    The big thing I think we HAVE to hang our hat on, as Unlucky13 noted above, was that our offensive coaching in general and OL coaching specifically was horrendous under the Flores regime. Just complete and utter inability to develop anyone. Even guys who came in and did well initially (Kindley most notably) all quickly began regressing. It's hard to determine if Grier's scouting and drafting of the OL is also bad because we just had such terrible coaching. We will be finding out pretty quickly I suspect. By about week 3-4 we should see what this group is really all about. I suspect we will see some noticeable struggles in the first few weeks, though for our sakes (and Tua's) it CANNOT be as bad as that Bills game last year.
     
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  16. Dol-Fan Dupree

    Dol-Fan Dupree Tank? Who is Tank? I am Guy Incognito.

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    That was the story.

    I don't know how Creed wasn't a first-round pick.

    I do think coaching was an issue. You heard stories that the linemen felt they were all blocking with one hand behind their back.
     
  17. firedan

    firedan Well-Known Member

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    The three biggest problem with the O line has been 1 coaching 2 coaching and 3 coaching.Or lack of.
     
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  18. KeyFin

    KeyFin Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Hunter Long is sort of like a young Anthony Fasano, he does everything fairly well but isn't a master of anything. He could definitely crack the roster rotation more this season with the power run game.

    Then again, maybe this is the year we admit Gisecki is a slot receiver and we actually have an extra blocker on the field.
     
  19. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team DeVante Club Member

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    • Poor coaching of the players on an individual and group level
    • Poor creation of an offensive system as a whole
    • Poor play calling on game days
    • Not putting the players in the best position to succeed and grow on a broad level
    Its been a crapfest for a long time.
     
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  20. hitman8

    hitman8 Well-Known Member

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    I don't completely agree on your Eichenbergh eval. I think he lacks a good anchor and core strength. His hips and athleticism are also not very good, which is why he was moved inside. His technique overall is really not that bad, at least not nearly as bad as Jackson. With improved technique and familiarity with the scheme I think his cieling is average starting guard. Most likely he will be another dieter, serviceable but nothing special.
     
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  21. hitman8

    hitman8 Well-Known Member

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    Bad coaching is a big part of it, but bad drafting has also been a huge problem. Only one half decent lineman in the last 7 drafts cannot be all coaching. Despite lack of good coaching, real talent will always at least show something. Only Hunt has managed to show that. The biggest blame should lie with Grier and the scouting department. After all Grier is also the one in charge of hiring coaches.
     
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  22. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity

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  23. KeyFin

    KeyFin Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    On one hand, the Fins have been terrible run blocking so far. On the other hand, we haven't played key starters on the OL. Hopefully we have a better picture this coming week.
     
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  24. Dol-Fan Dupree

    Dol-Fan Dupree Tank? Who is Tank? I am Guy Incognito.

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    The entire line gets a HUGE upgrade when Coleman is replaced by Armstead.
     
  25. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity

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  26. KeyFin

    KeyFin Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Great description from a former stud pro lineman. Might provide some insight in a different way than I could explain it:

     
  27. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team DeVante Club Member

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    I'm not confident that the team will be average at running the ball this season, unfortunately. But I wouldn't base any feelings on how the backups have looked so far this preseason.
     
  28. KeyFin

    KeyFin Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Honestly, it's an unknown...none of us can say one way or the other because we haven't seen the starting line with the starting RB's and the coach's scheme. Maybe we're great. Maybe we suck. There's no way to tell and that's by design.

    I do think we'll run well in week one, especially in the 1st half, just because everything has been so hush hush. But I have no guess beyond that.
     
  29. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team DeVante Club Member

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    And Week 1 is one of the times that we absolutely NEED to be able to run the ball. Its a must win game and I really doubt that our passing game will do much.
     
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  30. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity

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    Taken from this article by Barry at the Herald, we should prepare for the possibility of Armstead missing games this season:

    "One goal for the three-time Pro Bowler: To play a full season for the first time in his career. Armstead has had some bad luck with injuries; he missed nine games last season after missing nine, six, six, one and two the previous five seasons."

    https://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/barry-jackson/article264664779.html

    On the plus side, Armstead had a lot of positive things to say about the OL and his expectations for this season:

    "On right tackle Austin Jackson: “His athleticism definitely flies off the chart. The improvements he’s made since we started this program have been special.”

    On left guard Liam Eichenberg: “He’s a worker, really smart player. We’re just trying to get more chemistry together. I wasn’t out there as much as would have liked. Past couple weeks have been great. The communication is better.”

    On center Connor Williams, who was a left guard for Dallas the past four years: “I think Connor is going to have a special year. I don’t want to put any postseason accolades on him, but I think he’s going to be recognized. I have that much confidence in him. He’s embraced the new role. I can see Connor being a very highly regarded player at that position.” What translates well to Williams playing center? “Athleticism, snap quickness, and he’s very strong.”

    And Armstead said right guard Robert Hunt “is an exceptional player, works his butt off, wants to be great, is great. His talents will start to be on display more and more. He’s a guy we’re leaning on heavily.”"

    I truly hope the OL takes a huge leap forward this year, even gaining the ability to be stable in the event of Armstead going down.
     
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  31. KeyFin

    KeyFin Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    What I'm hoping, if Armstead is out for a spell, the whole line from the center position shifts left. Eichenberg at LT. Connor at LG. Then the new guy can hold his own at center. Not ideal in some respects, but you have three players at their natural position and you hope the rookie can learn ultra fast.
     
  32. hitman8

    hitman8 Well-Known Member

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    If Armstead goes down, we are royally ****ed. This oline is already suspect as is.
     
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  33. hitman8

    hitman8 Well-Known Member

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    Armstead's opinion is obviously biased. The only lineman I'm not worried about is Hunt. The rest are just bad or injury prone.
     
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  34. Sceeto

    Sceeto Well-Known Member

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    Jackson against Judon will be a very telling matchup. I am not very confident about that one. We'll see.
     
  35. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team DeVante Club Member

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    Judon destroys me in Madden every game as if he's a combination of Lawrence Taylor and JJ Watt.
     
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  36. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity

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    The longstanding thought about Belichick is that he likes to take away your best tool. Might that focus be the deep pass?
    How would he do that? Maybe his focus will be to simply pressure the QB. The Dolphins had the shortest time to pass last year. Why not attack the Dolphins OL all game and make them beat you with short passes?

    If he pulls that off it might be the template to beating this team. Do what teams did last year and pressure Tua, tear apart the OL, and make all those deep threats go away.
     
  37. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team DeVante Club Member

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    Almost certainly. That's why improving the OL was so immensely important. If they aren't better, the team isn't better.
     
  38. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity

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    Armstead off the field today. Let's hope it's nothing major. But the OL looks exposed.

    If one guy goes down it could become a bloodbath.

    Let's hope they improve.

    However, my default position hasn't changed, Grier has still failed this team by not adding more talent and depth.
     
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  39. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team DeVante Club Member

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    Our front office has failed on the ol for the last 30 years, sadly
     
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  40. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity

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    Trevor Lawrence still struggling behind horrible protection.
     

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