Maybe the fifth try is the charm.
The Miami Dolphins were forced into their fifth different starting offensive line alignment of the season Sunday in a 31-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills and, somehow, it yielded the Dolphins’ best blocking performance of the season against one of the NFL’s most stout defenses.
For the first time all season, Miami didn’t give up a sack. The Dolphins rushed for a season-best 109 yards and threw for a season-high 272. For the first time all season, Miami put up more than 300 total yards.
“I think we had a pretty good game, but we lost. That’s what it boils down to is wins and losses,” interior lineman Evan Boehm said. “Overall as an offensive line, I think we played pretty well. Like always, there’s a couple plays that we want to have back and see what went wrong here, and we need to be better in certain situations.”
Still, the performance was certainly the most positive development yet for the battered and beleaguered unit, and it came among some of the least favorable circumstances imaginable. Boehm made his first start at center in place of injured captain Danie Kilgore. To his left were rookie guard Michael Deiter and tackle J’Marcus Webb, and Webb eventually went down with a leg injury. To his right were rookie guard Shaq Calhoun and swing lineman Jesse Davis, and Calhoun eventually left the game due to illness.
All seven of the Dolphins’ active offensive linemen had to play, and Miami (0-6) used three offensive line groupings it had not all year. Two of the players — Boehm and Webb — joined the team less than 10 days before the Dolphins’ opener.
The position coach has not been in place much longer. Dave DeGuglielmo took over as Miami’s offensive line coach in late July when the Dolphins fired former offensive line coach Pat Flaherty just four days into training camp. Miami was also facing a rebuild along the offensive line, and changing coaches so soon before the season began stunted the process even more.
“It’s not only the new guys, but it’s the guys that have been here before,” Boehm said. “Guge got these guys, what, with three weeks left in training camp? And so they’re trying to learn a brand new technique, scheme that Guge teaches that’s not what the norm was here, what they were used to and stuff like that, you know what I mean? I think everybody’s getting more comfortable with it and buying in more and more, and more and I think it’s starting to show.”
Dolphins optimistic about Xavien Howard, Reshad Jones
Xavien Howard and Reshad Jones were both questionable for the Dolphins this weekend in New York. With an extra day to prepare for the Pittsburgh Steelers next Monday, Flores is optimistic the two defensive backs will be ready to go on Monday Night Football.
Howard, a Pro Bowl cornerback. missed the last two games with a knee injury. Jones, a starting safety, sat out with a chest injury.
“Both guys are working extremely hard to get back. We’re close with Xavien. I think we’re going to be close with Reshad this week, as well,” Flores said. “It’s early in the week and we’ve got an extra day, so hopefully.”