Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano’s forte in his previous job was the offensive line. Since he took over the Dolphins, the best way to describe the line’s play has been simply offensive.
Sparano summed up the offensive line’s performance Saturday night simply, “wasn’t good enough.”
This was readily apparent to everyone watching the Dolphins third preseason game. Quarterback Chad Henne masked some of the problems by getting rid of the ball quickly, but the bigger issue was the running game.
Dolphins running back Reggie Bush put up the impressive stat line of: five rushes for minus one yard. Rookie Daniel Thomas fared no better with 7 carries for 16 yards. The problems, for once, were not the running backs.
The backs couldn’t hit holes, because there were no holes. Center Mike Pouncey was thrown around like a rag doll several times by journeyman defensive tackle Frank Okam. Pouncey got no push on the line, neither did most of the other players for the Fins.
All total, the Fins offensive line gave up five sacks and helped the team run for just 22 yards in the game on 17 attempts. Even more troubling was the Dolphins running game got zero first downs in the entire game against a very young Buccaneers defensive line.
“I don’t think we finished blocks well enough and I don’t think we protected the passer well enough,” Sparano said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The right side of the offensive line, from Pouncey to guard Vernon Carey and tackle Marc Colombo all played very poorly in the Bucs game. It was obvious as Colombo got no push as to the reason why the Dallas Cowboys chose to move on without him.
Sitting at home right now is former New York Giants center Shaun O’Hara. He’s played at a high level for a number of years and is said to be ready to sign with the Dolphins. He could play guard or center allowing the Fins to push Carey back out to tackle and giving them options with Pouncey’s development.
But the Fins have showed no interest in Shaun O’Hara, due to his recovery from surgery. Instead, Sparano’s committed to the five guys he has on the line right now, with the exception of bringing in Jake Long for the season opener.
Long’s presence will push Lydon Murtha out of the starting lineup, but Murtha could also move to right tackle and push Colombo off the line. Murtha has filled in for Long, and played decent. For the Dolphins, they’d settle for decent along the line.
Sparano now has to decide if he wants to play his starting offensive line Thursday night, sans Long, or let them rest for the season opener. Based on their play Saturday night, they should play most of the game. But, putting them out there and risking injury backfired last year when Jake Long was injured.