Miami’s offensive line had an interesting season. They were up and down throughout the season, and Jake Long’s season-ending injury really shook things up. It took some time to get used to a new zone-blocking scheme, but some players really got the hang of it while others struggled.
Let’s take a look at each lineman and break down their performance this season, and try to take a look at their role with Miami now, and more importantly, moving forward.
MDD Staff Writer: Garrett Baker
Long was the biggest disappointment of any Dolphin this season. He struggled mightily in the new zone-blocking scheme. His feet just weren’t quick enough, and he seemed both slowed and frustrated as the season wore on. As the team’s leader up to this point, it’s hard to picture Miami without Long, but that may just end up happening, as he will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Long was put on IR after suffering a torn triceps, and that combined with his past injury and early-season struggles may be enough to make Jeff Ireland let him walk.
A second-round draft pick out of Stanford who started immediately, Martin got a lot put on his shoulders right away and he delivered for the most part. He began the season at right tackle, where he experienced some growing pains but ultimately showed a lot of promise. When he switched to left tackle after Jake Long’s injury, Martin struggled a little more than he did on the right side, but that mid-season transition would be difficult for anyone, especially a rookie. All in all, Martin proved that he can be a very good NFL starter on either the right or left side, which makes him very valuable to Miami moving forward.
When Jake Long went down and Jonathan Martin moved to the left side, Garner got the call to replace Martin. Garner was bad, bordering on horrible, and is not an NFL starter. He’s not even a very good backup actually, and shouldn’t be a factor in the future.
Incognito had a good year at left guard, getting named a Pro Bowl alternate after a steady season where he was one of the better run-blocking guards in the NFL. His frame and playing style do not really fit with the zone-blocking scheme, but he worked hard to adapt and was not a liability at all. While he struggled a little at times in pass protection, his experience was really crucial for this young offensive line, especially after losing Long for the season. I think he will start again for the Dolphins next season.
Jerry is such an interesting case. He is still so inexperienced, and it definitely showed at times, but he also showed a lot of potential as well. Unfortunately, Jerry only played guard, where mistakes are often masked and it is harder to really see what he can do in pass protection. Jerry seems to be a more natural fit at tackle, but he remained at guard in favor of Garner after Long’s injury. I think Jerry could get moved outside to tackle next season, especially if he loses a little weight and really works hard to adapt to the zone-blocking scheme.
Finally, we get to the best offensive player for Miami, center Mike Pouncey. Pouncey really had a breakout year in 2012, his second in the NFL. Pouncey is a leader on the field; he’s tough, smart, strong, and plays hard every down. He emerged as one of, if not the best center in the NFL this season, and should be an integral part of the franchise for years to come.