Reporting Tim Kephart
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DAVIE (CBSMiami) – Miami Dolphins fans may be about to ask themselves is the glass half-full or half-empty?
The Dolphins defense has been running roughshod over the offensive line in practice. Wednesday, rookie defensive end Dion Jordan got past left tackle Jonathan Martin with ease and made quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s life difficult.
On the one hand, Jordan is a top pick with freakish athletic ability and is playing across from Cameron Wake, arguably the top defensive end pass rusher in the NFL. The Dolphins defensive line is really good, probably the best and deepest position on the team.
Still, is the Dolphins defensive line success in practice a result of the talent the team has on that side of the ball or is it the result of a patchwork offensive line that could be the Achilles heel of a team looking to make a playoff run this year?
The Dolphins have been experimenting in practice with different offensive line combinations in hopes of finding the best five on the team. The Fins moved Richie Incognito to right guard after John Jerry went down to injury and also tried Mike Pouncey out at guard while bringing in Josh Samuda at center.
Ideally, the Dolphins would like to keep Incognito at left guard and Pouncey at center, where he’s quickly developed into one of the best in the NFL. But, complicating the process further is the left tackle position where Jonathan Martin will hold the entire line’s success or failure in his hands.
Martin was originally drafted to be a right tackle after playing left tackle in college. But, when the Fins decided to let Jake Long sign with the St. Louis Rams, Martin was moved to left tackle permanently.
Still, the Dolphins didn’t instill a lot of confidence in their selection of Martin at left tackle in the offseason. The Fins tried to sign Bryant McKinnie and seriously contemplated a trade for Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Brandon Albert.
The Fins also had the chance to draft one of the top offensive tackles, but instead went with defensive end Dion Jordan.
In short, the fins have gone all in on Martin and believe he can man the left tackle position good enough to keep the offense moving while protecting second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s blind side.
Still, if practice is an indication of what to expect in the games, either the Dolphins defense is going to be lights out, or Martin needs to make some major improvement to his blocking as does the rest of the offensive line.
Martin, a Stanford grad, obviously has the intelligence to play the key position on the offensive line. He excelled in college protecting Andrew Luck’s blindside while helping Stanford’s running game run right through Pac-12 defenses.
Now, it’s Martin’s time to step up and prove general manager Jeff Ireland’s move correct. If Martin can play well, the Dolphins ceiling is unknown. But, if Martin struggles and the offensive line can’t open running lanes or protect Tannehill, it could be another non-playoff season for the Dolphins.