Jermon Bushrod was the Dolphins’ designated butt-tapper in Week 1.
And he better get used to it. He’ll probably have that job title all year.
No, this wasn’t some sort of team-building exercise between Bushrod and center Anthony Steen.
It was the only form of communication the Dolphins had in deafening Seattle when they were in shotgun.
Since Steen couldn’t hear Ryan Tannehill’s command to snap, Bushrod -- making his first-ever start at right guard -- would look back for Tannehill’s silent signal when the quarterback was ready to receive the ball.
Bushrod would then tap Steen on the backside, alerting Mike Pouncey’s replacement that it was time to go.
“That was weird,” Bushrod said with a chuckle. “That was the first time I had to do that in a game. My first couple of times in practice, I forgot to turn around. I'm not used to doing it.”
Bushrod never forgot in the game. And as a result, Steen’s NFL debut went well. The Dolphins didn’t have a muffed snap all afternoon, and Steen earned rave reviews from his coaches.
“I thought Anthony Steen was really, really impressive,” said offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen. “I would say that the best compliment I could tell you about him was that I didn’t notice him.”
And Bushrod deserves at least some of the credit.
The converted left tackle was admittedly uncomfortable when asked by coach Adam Gase to transfer to guard. And he was downright nervous about having to take his eyes off the defense every time the Dolphins went to shotgun. On at least four occasions Sunday, the Seahawks’ defense changed formations in the short time Bushrod glanced to the backfield.
Bushrod’s reaction when coaches first approached him with the assignment?
“Uhhhh....” he deadpanned. “You really don't have a choice. One of the guards has to do it. Here, it's always been the right guard.”
And it will be so again this week in New England, where the Dolphins haven’t won since 2008. In their seven losses, the Dolphins have allowed 34 sacks -- an average of nearly five per game.
Making matters worse, Pouncey (hip) almost certainly will not play again this week. That means Bushrod will again be the most experienced member of Miami’s interior offensive line.
In fairness, this isn’t the same Patriots defense as in years past. Chandler Jones led New England in sacks last year, but he now plays for the Cardinals. And while newcomer Chris Long does have 55.5 career sacks, Long is not the same player he was five years ago.
As for the crowd noise? There’s no matching the wall of sound in Seattle, but Gillette Stadium can rock too.
And the Dolphins struggled with it. Ryan Tannehill was sacked five times and hit on nine occasions. The running game was all but invisible.
And production on third downs?
“Horrendous,” Christensen said.
Here’s why: The Dolphins failed on 11 of 14 third-down chances Sunday.
“First and second down wasn’t good enough to keep third down shorter, and a couple we screwed up and didn’t make a catch, didn’t make a throw,” Christensen added. “The passing game is where we really broke down.”
Still, that was against Seattle in Seattle. The Seahawks’ defense -- particularly their pass-rush -- might be better than anything the Dolphins see all year.
Gase said the line did a “pretty good job,” adding: “I think that’s the least I’ve ever had my quarterback hit against these guys.”
As for Bushrod specifically?
“The old man played pretty good,” Albert said. “He was real physical. He was tough. He's a guy you want to go war with.”