Meanwhile, back on the football field, the Dolphins offensive line is still a mess. Not as much of a mess as its former position coach, Chris Foerster, but a mess nonetheless. A deeper dive into some simple stats reveals just how much messy things are there.
Through four games running back Jay Ajayi is gaining an average of just 3.4 yards per carry. That’s unimpressive enough on its own, but look a little deeper and you’ll see that of the 261 yards he’s gained on the ground so far, 200 have been churned out after contact.
Quarterback Jay Cutler hasn’t necessarily benefitted from the play of his line either. Cutler’s had a rough go of it all across the board but part of the problem is the play of his line, which has allowed him to be pressured on 38.5-percent of his drop backs, the sixth most in the league, according to Prop Football Focus.
Unlike Foerster’s apparent drug problem, the problems with the play of the offensive line have not gone unnoticed by coach Adam Gase. He called the unit out a week ago and once again in the wake of the Dolphins 16-10 comeback victory over the Titans.
“If guys would do their jobs – catch the ball, block the right guys, give the quarterback a chance to do something … we’d be all right,’’ Gase said. “It’s both (guys getting beat and guys not carrying out their assignments). It’s one one time and one the other. We’re better than what we’re putting out there right now.’’
They should be. The Dolphins O-line is made up four first-round draft picks and two Pro Bowlers (center Mike Pouncey and right guard Jermon Bushrod) but the unit’s most consistent player has probably been the undrafted third-team left guard, Anthony Steen.
Steen came out of last week’s game as PFF’s third-ranked guard for the week and stands as the site’s 26th-rated guard overall for the season. But an offensive has to be in sync to be effective and after a month of games this line still doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to that.
As you might expect of a unit that’s allowing its quarterback to be pressured on more than a third of his drop backs, the unit has already allowed 10 sacks in just 131 pass attempts, and as Ajayi’s average shows, it’s not creating room for its running backs either.
The Dolphins have yet to run for an average of even 4 yards per carry in a game this year, their best average being the 3.9-yards-per carry mark they put up in their loss to the Saints in London. But that came in the wake of a 2.0-yards-per-carry day against the Jets and it was followed by the 3.2-yards per carry day the Dolphins put up last week.
Given all the issues and the fact that the two linemen who supposedly have the most upside – left tackle Laremy Tunsil and right tackle Ja’Wuan James – do not appear to be improving, you would think that the last thing this group needs right now is to lose its coach.
In this case, though, that may be a good thing. A lot of people around the NFL have a lot of respect for Foerster, but given what we’ve learned about him the past 48 hours, it’s hard to believe he was doing the best job he possibly could the past few months.
It’s clear that Foerster badly needs time away from the game to get his life back in order and from what we’ve seen so far of the unit he was in charge of, it seems the Dolphins and in particular their offensive line just might benefit from some time away from him as well.