Running a deep sideline route: The Matty I from SB Nation's Miami Dolphins blog, The Phinsider.
tommasse: Miami looks to have a lot of changes on the offensive line, and the offensive mindset should be completely different with new coaches, a new quarterback, and new weapons. What are the strong points and weak points in the line, and do you expect a completely refitted unit to gel in time to make a playoff run?
Matty I: "A lot of changes on the offensive line" is an understatement. In a way, it's been a total overhaul this offseason. In fact, the Dolphins will be the only team in the league to have a new starter at every offensive line position. Some of the names might be the same as last year, but they are all playing new spots. The best lineman from last year, Vernon Carey, moves from RT to LT. Next to him at LG will be either free agent acquisition Chris Liwienski or rookie Drew Mormino. At center, it's likely to be rookie 2nd-round pick Samson Satele. The RG will be Rex Hadnot, who slides over from playing center last year. And at RT will be L.J. Shelton, who was playing guard by the end of last season after failing at LT to start 2006.
So what can we expect out of this line? If nothing else, it at least gives Dolphin fans something to pay close attention to throughout training camp and the preseason. And I am confident that Ronnie Brown will have more lanes to run through this season than last season. Both tackles are good run blockers, as is Rex Hadnot. The biggest question marks to me will be how the two tackles, Carey and Shelton, do when pass blocking. Shelton is a massive man, but is a little slow which could hurt him. Carey is also a little too slow at times, which needs to be addressed if he's going to succeed at blocking the speed rushers that will be coming at Trent Green's blind side.
All in all, I think the last part of your question is the key to not only the line, but to the entire offense. Will this unit gel quickly enough to be successful? I don't think anyone has that answer. But what I do know is that the Dolphins have the best offensive line coach in the league, Hudson Houck, and he will work with these guys as much as he heeds to in order to get them where they need to be. When all is said and done, I expect the line to be improved from last season, but still with upgrades needed in order to make this line a successful NFL offensive line unit.
tommasse's retort: Chaos on the offensive line can make excellent teams look barely mediocre. If the line can't stem the tide to keep pressure off the quarterback, they need to be able to run; and if they can't block well enough to establish the run, that team is in big trouble, no matter how good their receivers, running backs and defense are. The Dolphins certainly have their work cut out for them. If any of those guys don't excel or if they group has trouble working as a unit, it could be a long season. If, on the other hand, they learn their positions and gel quickly, they could be the force everyone expected them to be last year.
OK, it's your turn. Step up to the Pulpit and say your piece. And if you have a question you want me to ask next week, email me, and I'll pose the best queries to our friends at Buffalo Rumblings, The Phinsider and NY Landing Strip.