The Miami Dolphins should be excited about their rookie offensive linemen after Week 1.
It was not a promising start to the season for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, as they rode into Foxboro and took a 21-11 loss to the New England Patriots. Miami was never able to get anything consistent going on offense and the Patriots were able to work the clock with the running game all afternoon. All in all, it was a disappointing start to the season for the Miami Dolphins.
In particular, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled in his 2020 debut. Fitzpatrick was able to complete 20-of-30 passes in the game, but he only threw for 191 yards and went without a touchdown. He also threw three interceptions in this game. How long until we see Tua Tagovailoa under center for Miami?
Fitzpatrick’s struggles cannot be blamed on the offensive line in this one. The Patriots were only able to sack Fitzpatrick once in this game and for the most part, he was able to work with a clean pocket. This new-look offensive line held up well and showed some serious promise for the rest of the season.
In particular, I was impressed by the play of rookie offensive linemen Austin Jackson and Solomon Kindley. Jackson was a first-round pick (18th overall) for the Miami Dolphins in the 2020 NFL Draft and has taken over the starting left tackle job right away.
Franchise left tackle shines
The Jackson selection was questioned at the time, as he seemed to be more of a projection player than a guy who was ready to take over right away. However, Jackson stepped right in on Sunday and played at a high level for Miami. His athleticism consistently stood out in pass protection and Jackson also held up well against real NFL power. His pass protection upside is impressive, making him an extremely important player for this team going forward.
Kindley was a fourth-round pick (111th overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft and has taken over as the starting right guard for this team. While Jackson primarily wins with quick feet, Kindley is more of a power-based player who wants to compete in small spaces. He did a great job of fighting with Patriots’ defensive linemen in a phone booth on Sunday, holding up well in pass protection and clearing out holes in the run game.
While the success of Jackson and Kindley stood out more, fellow rookie Robert Hunt was able to make an impact up front as well. Hunt was a second-round pick (39th overall), but was not able to win a starting job with Miami out of camp. However, he did see some time as a sixth offensive lineman in this game, clearing out rushing lanes from the tight end position. Hunt undoubtedly has a bright future as well.
On paper, the offensive line may seem like a potential position of need for the Miami Dolphins going forward. However, with these talented rookies leading the way, Miami clearly has a ton of upside up front. If Jackson, Kindley and Hunt can continue to play well this season, Miami should feel good about their future at the position. If nothing else, this was a great start.