Thoughts on the Offensive Line
By Terry OBrien
There was a lot of discussion this week how competition on the offensive line will make them better. I don’t agree. What will make the offensive line better will be all the rookie defensive linemen plus Aaron Kampman and Reggie Hayward. Just wait until the pads go on and those rookie defensive linemen get to hit people. Keeping Tyson Alualu out of the backfield while containing D’Anthony Smith and both of the ends will keep that line quite busy. The incentive to do well isn’t coming from the bench, it will be the potential embarrassment right in front of them.
So every year Jack Del Rio singles out a veteran and calls him out publicly. Last year it was John Henderson. This year it is Vince Manuwai. Seriously, if Manuwai is cut and Uche Nwaneri and Brad Meester stay, that is a serious breakdown in the Jaguars evaluation. Check the stats from last year. The only for sure absolute direction to run the ball was to the left behind Eugene Monroe and Vince Manuwai. Guaranteed yards were available behind those two. The rest of the line was worthless.
Jack does this head game stuff constantly. Despite being half the reason David was the most hit QB last year, Jack named Eben Britton a game captain. Jack tries this stuff a lot, so I am going to ignore this Vince Manuwai talk until I can get to training camp and see for myself.
I don’t know what to make of this Justin Smiley trade. Justin Smiley has not been someone the Dolphins could count on being available on game day. He missed games in 2008 and 2009 and even if he didn’t miss the game, he wasn’t available as a starter on a regular basis. I know this is the cardinal sin against Bill Parcell. If he can’t count on you being there, he doesn’t want you. But there is more, the Dolphins were worried even lifting weights would hurt the guy. Justin Smiley agreed to a new contract which I guarantee didn’t mean an increase. He knows there are questions about his health. No other team really wanted him even for a 7th round draft choice. Seriously, am I the only one who sees a problem here? I am not convinced Justin Smiley will be a starter. He might be another TraThomas, good bench strength. That may be enough to justify it and if he becomes a starter, this is a wow. I am not going to jump on the Smiley bandwagon just yet and decalre the line fixed.
If Brad Meester is being given a pass for last year’s performance, and no one called him out publicly, then there are two reasons; he has a wealth of knowledge they can’t replace and he wasn’t entirely responsible for a bad year. With rookie tackles and flipping Uche and Vince to opposite sides, I am thinking there was a lot of confusion on the line. Brad may have been the victim of poor performances around him. I am willing to give him that.
I still think Eugene Monroe will emerge as a top talent this year and that Kynan Forney will emerge as a top run blocking guard. Other than that, I need to get to camp and see these guys play. This line was as bad as the defensive line last year and Gene Smith knows it. It has to get better or nothing will be right with this season.
– Terry O’Brien