After his Saints handed the Dolphins their first loss of the season, New Orleans linebacker Junior Galette added insult to injury when he called out the Miami offensive line.
“Up front we just kept taking advantage of their weak tackles and their inside guys,” Galette said after Monday night’s game. “I wish we could play them again so we could tee off on them again.”
He continued: “It was a nice win, but I don’t think that team was as good as everybody was saying. We just abused their offensive line all game.”
The Dolphins allowed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to get hit 10 times Monday, including four sacks. Miami’s 18 sacks allowed are tied for most in the league.
Not surprisingly, Galette’s comments were not well-received in the Dolphins’ locker room.
“He didn’t do much,” center Mike Pouncey said Tuesday. “Watch the film — the film doesn’t lie. He had two tackles. I guess he’s the best defensive player in the NFL.”
In addition to his two tackles, Galette had one sack and another quarterback hit in 47 plays.
“You have to stay classy,” guard Richie Incognito said. “You have to be a professional, and I just don’t think those comments were very professional.”
Left tackle Jonathan Martin said he is ready to move past the insults and begin preparations for Sunday’s game against the Ravens.
“I really have nothing to say back to him,” Martin said. “He can say what he wants to say. They did kick our butt pretty good on Monday Night Football. I’m not going to think about him again unless we play them in the Super Bowl.”
Galette’s outburst can be attributed to — at least in part — a game that got chippy in the trenches, especially toward the end. Galette said after the game that the Dolphins were “talking so much trash while we were up by 25.”
That excuse didn’t fly with Martin, however.
“He started the trash talk,” Martin said firmly. “So that’s on him.”
Regardless of Galette’s comments, pass protection remains a high-priority issue for the Dolphins. The team has given up a sack on 11.25 percent of Tannehill’s dropbacks. Only the woeful Jaguars have been worse this season at 11.31 percent.
“That can’t continue to happen if we want to keep Tannehill as our starting quarterback,” Pouncey said. “If he keeps getting hit like that he won’t last too long. We have to protect him better so he’s not in the pocket afraid of getting hit.”
Coach Joe Philbin reiterated that the pass-protection problems aren’t entirely the offensive line’s fault.
Incognito said it has been frustrating all season, because most of the offense does a good job protecting on any given play, but there always seems to be just one error that erodes the pocket, whether it be from a running back, tight end or the offensive line.
“To protect the quarterback, you really need to have all guys in sync at all times,” he said.
The silver lining, if any can be found in a 38-17 defeat, is that Tannehill was protected relatively well early in the game, when the Saints’ defense had to worry about the running game. As the margin widened, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was forced to call a one-dimensional game.
“We were throwing the ball the entire second half and it was one-on-one pass [protection] the whole time,” Martin said. “We didn’t do a good enough job. We’ve got to get better — 18 sacks in four games isn’t good enough.”
The Dolphins didn’t give up their first sack until the third quarter, already down 28-10. The culprit? Galette.
Even though Tannehill stayed clean in the first half, the consensus is that the pass protection will need to improve before facing the defending Super Bowl champions Sunday.
“Keeping our quarterback [upright] and not having him hit it certainly has to be at the top of the list,” Sherman said.