The Miami Dolphins will likely be without two big-name starting offensive linemen on Sunday when they face a Los Angeles Rams defensive front that features arguably the best defensive linemen in football in Aaron Donald.
Center Mike Pouncey is experiencing more hip issues while left tackle Branden Albert underwent wrist surgery. It’s perfectly normal for fans to be greatly concerned, considering the team’s recent surge came behind a healthy five-man line.
However it’d be wise not to pull the alarms just yet because there’s overwhelming evidence pointing to these two former first-rounders, both with multiple Pro Bowls on the resume, playing some horrendous football this season.
Albert grades out as the 57th best offensive tackle per Pro Football Focus, ranking an especially appalling 91st in run blocking. It’s a similar story for Pouncey, who PFF considers the 29th best center (out of 34). Pouncey’s backup, Anthony Steen, graded out similarly.
“Miami’s fortunes have adjusted drastically as the team pivoted to more of a power-running offense as the season went on, but it was really all on the back of Jay Ajayi’s hard running, rather than any dominance the line has in that area. Ajayi has gained 62.2 percent of his rushing yardage after contact, and is averaging 3.5 yards per carry after contact. Rookie Laremy Tunsil has been solid, allowing just one sack and 17 total pressures in time at left guard and tackle, but solid is the high-water mark on this line.”
With talented rookie Laremy Tunsil likely sliding to left tackle, there should still be some worry with the interior, especially this week when the quick-twitch Donald explodes through the trenches but as we’ve seen teams do with Ndamukong Suh, an elite defensive tackle can be mitigated some by crafty gameplanning from Adam Gase and quick decision-making by Ryan Tannehill.
No doubt Gase and Tannehill will face a tremendous challenge down two linemen, but the numbers paint a less gloomy story considering how lackluster Albert and Pouncey have been this season.
The question becomes how much worse will their backups be?