The Miami Dolphins yesterday addressed a crucial need on their offensive line by trading for veteran Bryant McKinnie of the Ravens.
While the deal for McKinnie cost the Dolphins a late round pick, this deal, as it seems is a short-term solution.
First, the Dolphins have surrendered 27 sacks of their current franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill. On the right side, embattled, second year left tackle Jonathan Martin continues to get beat and has given up 7 sacks. While attempting to run block, Jonathan Martin is not performing as advertised since he was a stellar run blocker at Stanford University and was supposed to fill that void left after the Dolphins and free agent Jake Long could not come to terms.
Next, the Dolphins are floundering quite literally after having rested on their proverbial laurels with veteran Tyson Clabo from the Falcons via free agency. Clabo as well, has done nothing, but get beat by some of the best defensive lineman and defensive ends the Dolphins have faced. In all, 7 sacks given up by Clabo this early in the season after six games is deplorable. The Dolphins plan for Clabo is uncertain as they do have some depth at the position, but those moves could come should Clabo fall with an injury since Nate Garner and moving Martin to his unnatural position has been tried before.
Last, the Miami Dolphins, while they have found a short term solution for the left side of the line, still have a glaring need to upgrade the right side. If one looks at the Dolphins line play as a whole, given that the Dolphins have a short term solution on the right and left side in McKinnie and Martin or Clabo, they will need to upgrade both sides of the line during the draft and free-agency.
This revamping of the Dolphins line is nothing new and not completely as far fetched as one would think. If one looks at Jeff Ireland's history of getting lineman in free agency, he's had a poor track record. Whether it has to do with his ability to evaluate the best men for the position or the coaching in place remains to be seen.
However, Ireland's track record in evaluating offensive linemen should give fans and pundits alike, some pause. Just to name a few moves that made sense at the time, getting Justin Smiley in free agency as well as Jake Grove seemed like a good idea. However, both suffered injuries due to the demands placed on them when the Dolphins were a run first team and mainly used the WildCat formation instead of developing a goal line offense during the Sparano era. In addition, Ireland's handling of Jake Long's contract situation dragged on much longer than it needed to be as questions arose about Long's durability after being placed on IR late in the season, his second season in a row. The main question raised is, if Ireland sensed that Long could bounce back, then why didn't he offer him top dollar in the off season so he could feel wanted? If having Tannehill and putting their faith in him were important, why not upgrade the position with the player possible?
As the Dolphins prepare for their nemesis in the New England Patriots, Bryant McKinnie, will be ready to play and at left-tackle position if need be. What the Dolphins decide to do to alleviate the concerns of the offensive line and protecting their starting quarterback in Ryan Tannehill will be measured by how many wins between now until the end of the season. If line play directly correlates to the Dolphins poor offensive performance, look for changes, not only at the top, but at the bottom to ensue. That, unfortunately, for Dolphins fans, is nothing new and just adds to the temptation to not purchase season tickets and find some other sports franchise to support.