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Dolphins suddenly can dominate anybody a
« on: November 14, 2017, 10:47:34 AM »
The Dolphins in 2013 hit a new low. The franchise-record 58 sacks taken weretoo many. Young quarterback Ryan Tannehill couldnt take such a beating. So Miami signed a free-agent left tackle by the name of Branden Albert.Fast-forward to Week 9of the 2016 season, and the Dolphins aretouting what suddenly has become one of the NFLs most dominant offensive lines.WEEK 8 PICKS:  Straight up|  Against the spread  Albert is still there, but now hes just one of four first-round picks protecting Tannehill and punishing defenders in the running game. The line, fully intact for the first time in 2016 after a series of injuries, is the only reason Miami is 3-4 and alive in the AFC after two improbable wins before their Week 8 bye."We were all tired of everybody calling us out and calling us soft," Albert  told The Miami Herald Lorenzo Alexander Jersey after the Dolphins  dominated the heavily favored Steelersin Week 6. "We played physical today. We wanted to make a statement."Make a statement, they did.The line  from left to right: Albert, 2016 first-round pick Laremy Tunsil, 2011 first-round pick Mike Pouncey, former Pro Bowler Jermon Bushrod and 2014 first-round pick JaWuan James  proved against both Pittsburgh and Buffalo (in Week 7) how dominant it can be  and how it affects the entire team.Tunsil, who mi sed the Tenne see game, is a beast  simply put. Pouncey, who mi sed the first four games, is a three-time Pro Bowler for a reason. Albert, who mi sed the Cincinnati and Tenne see games,is a two-time Pro Bowler. The talent is there. Now the health is, too.Running back Jay Ajayis  back-to-back 200-yard gameswere no flukes. The Steelers and Bills, both of whom field respectablerush defenses, found out the hard way the Dolphins rushing attack is real.FANTASY:  Week 8 RB rankings|  Injury updates  Miami set the tone early against Pittsburgh with physicality and near-perfect execution on combo blocks, pulls and reaches. In this play early in the first quarter against the Steelers, Tunsil shows off his ability to seal the edge on a combo with Pouncey.                            via GIPHY In this play later in the game, the rookie displays his athleticism in taking care of his backside linebacker a signment.                            via GIPHY In a third play, this time against Buffalo, Albert, Tunsil and  Tyrod Taylor Jersey Pouncey perfectly seal off their a signments and allow Ajayi to reach the second level.                            via GIPHY This execution was commonplace for Miami against Pittsburgh and Buffalo. Now contrast it to how Miami looked against Tenne see, for example, with Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas playing left tackle and left guard, respectively.Not so great.                            via GIPHY Turner and Thomas were cut after the Titans game. Coach Adam Gase reportedly used the roster moves as a wake-up call for any and all veterans who werent playing to their potential. It must have worked.Residual effects of the Dolphins newfound dominance at the line of scrimmage can be found everywhere  most notably time of po se sion.Miami held the ball significantly longer than both Pittsburgh and Buffalo. They had lost the time of po se sion battle in each of the first five games of the season  by a lot.A primary beneficiary has been the defense, which has allowed 297 and 267 total yards in the last two games, respectively  easily the  Bruce Smith Jersey lowest totals of their season. Ball control wins.MORE:  Week 8 NFL Power Rankings  You know the advantage for Ajayi, whose yards per rushing attempt in the last two games are absurd totals of 8.16 and 7.38. Even backup Damien Williams has scored twice in the last two weeks after zero touchdowns in Weeks 1-5.ButTannehill looks good all of the sudden, too. His QB ratings in the last two games, 97.4 and 99.4, are his highest totals of the season. (His career average is 85.4.)And thanks to the return of legitimate protection on his blind side, Tannehill has been sacked just once in the last two games. He was sacked 17 times through the first five, largely because of efforts like this up front.                            via GIPHY Bushrod claims the lines intensity is the reason for its sudden succe s: When we come out here and practice some days, it feels like a high school or college game,  he told the Palm Beach Post.Thats part of the equation. So is health. So is a running back who has worked his way out of Gases dog house, so to speak.Ajayi is not totally reliant on his line. Hes a legit back who can break tackles, and he needs only a little bit of running room to be effective, as the two plays below display.                            via GIPHY                             via GIPHY The Dolphins are in good hands at running backwithout Arian Foster,  who retired last week.This isnt to say Miami will pound its way to the playoffs in 2016. New England still has a stranglehold on the division, and the wild-card picture is  cluttered with AFC West teams. The Dolphins have to reach .500 before they can think bigger.But this is to say Miami is a completely different team than the one that took the field in Weeks 1-5. Healthy talent at the line of scrimmage makes that big a difference, no matter the perceived shortcomings of Tannehill; no matter the absence of concu sed tight end Jordan Cameron.Miami will return from its bye to face another  Seantrel Henderson Jersey good defensive front, the division-rival Jets.  The scheduleis packed with more tough defenses  Rams, Ravens, Cardinals, to name a few  including those in the Dolphins own division.MORE:  Putting Ajayi's recent succe s in historical perspective  They wont be favored in many of their games moving forward, but the Dolphins werent favored against the Steelers or Bills, either. Now they know what they can do."When all five of us are out there together, we work well together," Pouncey said. "The communication is good between us. That gave us confidence for the rest of the season."Defensive linemen and linebackers of the AFC, beware.(GIFs via  NFL Game Pa s)