At this point of the off-season, even with plenty of uncertainty remaining, the Dolphins players are clearly confident with the changes that have come with a new regime.
“The sky is the limit for this team,” Long said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys; we’ve got hungry guys. We just got to put it together. We ended the year last year winning some games, kind of got on a roll, and we’ve just got keep that going this year. We definitely got the guys to do it.”
A key part of a potential turnaround will be the progression of the offensive line; a unit many feel could be the strength of the offense. Since Long was selected first overall in 2008, the only thing consistent about the offensive line has been the unit’s inconsistency. After several years of constant tinkering, though, there seems to be a real dependable foundation.
The additions of Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey in successive seasons has helped build continuity. If rookie Jonathan Martin can slide in at right tackle, the revolving doors may be slammed shut.
“You have to have the same five guys in there and really get it adhesive and just play off one another,” said Long, who’s entering his fifth season. “When you’re rotating guys, you don’t mesh as well as when you have those main five guys. We’re going to find those five guys, and we’re going to be a good group.”
During the early part of the off-season schedule, Long said he’s noticed Joe Philbin keeping an eye on the line. Like Tony Sparano, Philbin has an offensive line background–he was an offensive line coach for more than 20 seasons, including stops at the University of Iowa and with the Packers prior to becoming offensive coordinator. Long said he’s enjoyed learning how his new head coach operates.
“Just the short time we’ve been practicing under him, we’ve been learning a lot,” Long said. “He’s all about discipline, earning your respect and family.”
Throughout his first offseason as Dolphin head coach, Philbin has stated his preference for leaner, quicker offensive linemen. This, of course, is indicative of the change in offensive philosophy. In the past, under Sparano and former offensive coordinator Dan Henning, the team coveted larger offensive linemen to power the running game. You could begin to see, even prior to Sparano’s departure, a change in philosophy begin to take shape. Now, with the implementation of the West Coast offense, the switch is complete.
Long said this shift towards a more athletic zone-blocking scheme doesn’t bother him at all.
“I like this style. I ran this all through college,” Long said. “It’s fun because you get on a guy, you run him and the back can cut anywhere.”
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.