Armando Salguero

This failure drove Colts Andrew Luck into retirement. Dolphins keep making same mistake

Russell Wilson says after 3rd preseason game Seahawks are ready for season, talks about Andrew Luck retiring

Russell Wilson says after 3rd preseason game Seahawks are ready for season, talks about Andrew Luck retiring
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Russell Wilson says after 3rd preseason game Seahawks are ready for season, talks about Andrew Luck retiring

The seismic news out of Indianapolis that Andrew Luck is retiring shook the entire NFL this weekend.

The quarterback’s decision to retire at age 29 was a stunner. And the reaction by Indianapolis fans -- who booed Luck as he walked from the sideline to the Colts locker room after Saturday’s preseason game -- was sad.

So the reasons for this whole drama should be sobering to the Miami Dolphins and their fans.

Luck isn’t the first player to prematurely leave the game he loves because he simply isn’t willing to absorb vicious punishment anymore. He won’t be the last. And that should mean something to the Dolphins.

Miami coach Brian Flores reacted to the news during his regularly scheduled press conference on Sunday.

“I have a lot of respect for Andrew Luck. He is a very, very impressive person, first and foremost, and he’s a great, great player,” Flores said. “He’s a guy who really from early on, trying to defend this guy, it’s a hard thing to do. He’s smart, he gets the ball out, he can make every throw. I have a lot of respect for him as a player.

“I know this was a tough decision for him, but I respect the decision ... It’s hard to make that decision with the scrutiny and what people say on social media. I know what happened last night. I didn’t think that was – I felt bad for him, to be honest with you.”

I also have sympathy for the way Luck was treated last night on social media and by his fans. I think it was wrong. But you know what’s more wrong?

The way the Indianapolis Colts treated Andrew Luck for six of his seven seasons.

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Because for six years the Colts let Luck play behind substandard pass protection. They asked him to both carry the team and absorb torturous physical punishment. He easily handled the one but ultimately refused to endure the other.

It was roster mismanagement that drove Andrew Luck to injured lists with a sprained shoulder, a lacerated kidney, a torn abdominal muscle, and torn cartilage in his ribs. Luck didn’t suffer a concussion in 2016 knocking his head against a wall. That came because of poor pass protection.

He had a shoulder injury in 2017 that kept him out the entire season. And lately he’s had a mysterious calf or ankle injury that simply wasn’t healing as everyone expected.

Luck was the first overall pick of the Colts in 2012 and was everything everyone expected on the field. He was an invaluable generational quarterback.

But it wasn’t until 2018 when the Colts selected two offensive line starters in the draft’s first two rounds that it seemed the team was serious about protecting that value.

That brings me to the Dolphins:

This club has failed to field a good offensive line for years. Maybe decades. Through multiple coaching staffs and personnel departments, this franchise has failed in this area perhaps more than any other -- which is saying something because this century has been ugly.

That massive failure is the reason ...

Ryan Tannehill was sacked more than any other NFL quarterback the first four years of his career, an incredible 184 times, and then started breaking down with various injuries his last three years on the team.

The Dolphins had to start three different quarterbacks in 2010, including Tyler Thigpen, because the starter and the backup both got hurt.

The Dolphins had to start three quarterbacks in 2007 -- with two of them getting knocked out of the lineup and all three getting beat up.

The Dolphins had to start three quarterbacks in 2006 -- with Daunte Culpepper absorbing 21 sacks in only four games before he was pulled and Joey Harrington and Cleo Lemon were then sacrificed into the volcano of angry defensive lines.

The Dolphins also went through three quarterbacks in 2004 -- with Jay Fiedler hurting his shoulder, A.J. Feeley fracturing his butt bone, and Sage Rosenfels getting sacked three times in his lone start.

The most common lament among Dolphins fans the past 20 years is about the team failing to find a suitable quarterback since Dan Marino retired after the 1999 season. But part of that failure is tied to the team first failing to find adequate pass protection that might have improved the results from those many quarterbacks everyone was trying to find out about.

And the frustrating thing is it’s about to happen again.

Indeed, it’s happening right now.

The 2019 Dolphins offensive line has had a rough preseason. Miami quarterbacks have been sacked eight times in three games. They’ve been hit or hurried maybe twice that many times.

This offensive front is, by the team’s own admission, a work in progress. But here’s the thing:

How is Josh Rosen supposed to make progress when the offensive line is too busy trying to make progress to actually protect him?

How is Ryan Fitzpatrick supposed to perform consistently when he has to flee the pocket and truck a Tampa defensive back to deliver a highlight moment?

Miami’s coaching staff is weighing opinions and information, trying to decide which of these two will start this year. The truth is both will start because both are going to get pummeled repeatedly in the games they play and no human can survive 16 games of that.

Dolphins coaches might think they can mitigate the problem with maximum protections and maybe rollouts or quick slants or bubble screens. But defensive coaches have brains too, fellas, and if all those scheme fixes were sustainable I assure you the need for good pass protection would be considered a needless luxury by smart NFL people.

And it’s not.

The Dolphins are trying to improve their quarterback situation this year with the Rosen test-drive, and in future years with the drafting of the next franchise quarterback. I suggest they take note of how the Indianapolis Colts treated their franchise quarterback.

And then do something different about their pass protection.

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