Offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea called the offensive line a “work in progress,” but likes the improvement he’s seen from the whole group in the short time it’s been together.
The Dolphins added four players with starting experience after their preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints with Julién Davenport, Danny Isidora, Evan Boehm and J’Marcus Webb, and O’Shea is confident the group will continue to get better the more it spends together.
“I think they’ve improved,” O’Shea said Tuesday morning. “We saw a drastic improvement in practice last week, just from … you’re learning a new language. You’re learning how to communicate with each other. You’re learning about the specific fundamentals that we’re asking of that position that might be slightly different than some other places they’ve been on the way we want to do it. I think, again, it’s all those simple things are the building blocks to our success on the offensive line.
“It’s a work in progress, and it’s one in which I think that they’ve come in here, they’ve embraced the challenge of trying to do this in a short period of time. I have a lot of confidence in ‘Guge’ (Offensive Line Coach Dave DeGuglielmo) as the offensive line coach, who spent a considerable amount of time with that group last week, and to get them to the game, I think was a tribute to him and his ability to coach that position. I just think it’s something that’s going to continue to get better if they work at it and embrace what we’re trying to do.”
All four newcomers played in the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, and Davenport and Isidora started at right tackle and right guard, respectively.
O’Shea said the decision to have Jesse Davis start at left tackle after he spent the preseason working at right tackle was simply a matter of putting together the best starting group as possible.
Things could change moving forward, however.
“I think it’s like pieces of the puzzle, and I think that you have to look at the entire five and just not solely Jesse at left tackle,” O’Shea said. “It was what was best for our team at those other positions, too, and I think that that’s probably true of our other positions. Jesse is one part of the decision, and the four others are part of the decision on where to put guys.
“Like we’ve stressed to the players this week, this is a blank canvas. This is a new week, and our personnel is going to be based off of what we think is best for the team, and whatever combination we feel is best for this game, it’s going to be. I don’t think that anything is set in stone here, and I would say that’s not only true of the offensive line positions, but that’s true of our other combinations that we’re putting out there, whether it’s a certain personnel group or whether it’s a certain running back to put in the game, a certain receiver.”
Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham made it clear Tuesday he is open to suggestions from his players when it comes to try to help the defense.
“I think we’re all doing this job together,” Graham said. “There’s definitely a leadership role. It starts with our head coach. It trickles down to me and then to the players and then the leadership within the player group as well, but my door is always open. I’m always open to hear and listen and get communication from the players and input because we are doing this thing together. We spend so much time with one another.
“I think that’s a big part of it, just having clear lines of communication and understanding what each one expects from one another.”
Focus on the Dolphins
Like Head Coach Brian Flores did Monday, O’Shea made it clear what he’s concerned about this week is getting his offense ready to play and not a reunion with the team for which he used to coach.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for New England and obviously spent a number of years there, but so much of the focus for us – especially after last week – is becoming about us and what we can do better,” O’Shea said. “I think that although the tremendous amount of respect and have great relationships and great memories with both the coaches and the players there, I’m going to have such great focus on doing a better job on game day and making sure our players are doing better job in all the areas that we talk about, so it’s really so much about us that hopefully – although I’m respectful of those relationships, I think that what’s most important is that on Sunday, we’re worried about us.”
O’Shea also isn’t concerning himself with the idea that the Patriots would know what he likes to do offensively, first because that premise works both ways and second because he’s strictly focused on getting the offense to perform better.
“I think sometimes familiarity with other systems is overrated because at the end of the day, the execution is what’s most important,” O’Shea said. “Certainly, we have a group on offense that’s still growing, still trying to improve, and I just think it’s so much about the basics right now for us of just being better, taking a few things and improving on those.”
A great play
The “Fake Spike” is among the greatest plays in Dolphins history and it’s going to be featured on NFL Network’s “NFL 100 Greatest Plays” as part of its “NFL 100 Greatest Series.”
The play will be among the 70 featured Friday night when parts 1 and 2 of the “NFL 100 Greatest Plays” are shown on NFL Network starting at 8 p.m.
The NFL and the Associated Press, using an 80-person blue-ribbon panel, teamed up to select the top 100 plays and the “Fake Spike” was promoted as one of the plays that will be featured Friday.
The “Fake Spike,” as Dolphins fans well know occurred Nov. 27, 1994 at Giants Stadium when the Dolphins trailed 24-21 against the New York Jets in the final seconds. After Dan Marino completed a pass in the middle of the field and with the clock ticking down, everyone assumed Marino would simply spike the ball.
Instead, Marino faked the spike after making the spiking motion, Ingram ran to the corner of the end zone, and Marino hit him with a back-shoulder throw for an 8-yard touchdown that gave the Dolphins a 28-24 victory.
The final 30 greatest plays will be revealed on NFL Network the following Friday, Sept. 20 starting at 8 p.m. ET.