One of the beneficiaries–indirectly, at least–of Joe Philbin’s up-tempo practices has been the offensive line. The noticeably fit unit has powered a run game that’s arguably been the strength of the team through two weeks.
Richie Incognito, a key to the line’s impressive start, joined The Finsiders to break down the Dolphins’ offensive performance in Sunday’s 35-13 win over the Raiders and to look ahead to the team’s Week 3 matchup against the Jets.
It’s difficult to quantify the positive impact of a solid offensive offensive line; a lineman typically doesn’t show up on a stat line for the right reasons. Even if you have a do-it-all back, though, gaudy rushing totals typically indicate a strong performance from the guys up front.
“That’s what we hang our hat on, those yards,” Incognito said. “We don’t get to score touchdowns or be fancy like everybody else. But when we go out and have a 263-yard day, that’s huge.”
Reaching the second level of an opposing defense and staying engaged, a key to an effective zone-blocking scheme, has been a point of emphasis since Philbin arrived in January.
“Yeah, especially with a guy like Reggie Bush, you never know where he’s going to pop out,” Incognito said. “So you just want to stick on him and stay with him because, like he did [Sunday], he makes those ordinary runs into touchdowns.”
As the Raiders defense began to wilt in the heat and humidity late in the second half, the Dolphins offense kept hammering away, running Bush both between the tackles and stretching it out to the perimeter.
But with the Dolphins leading 28-13 in the fourth quarter, Bush was briefly shaken up. So Lamar Miller, making his NFL debut, entered and promptly took the subsequent handoff 15 yards for a backbreaking touchdown. Add a recovering Daniel Thomas to the mix, and the Dolphins have an impressive trio of backs, each of who hits the hole a little differently.
It’s more of a change in style and look, Incognito said, than approach.
“When you see us change up running backs, I think you see us change our scheme a little bit. We’re changing up our thinking,” Incognito said. “But you really don’t notice that until the end of the play, until you see Reggie scampering, or you see Daniel Thomas running someone over, or you see Lamar Miller pulling away from somebody.
“So our mindset is the same. We’re going to stay on them and give them lanes to run in.”
There should be no shortage of physicality this Sunday, as the Jets, with their similar ground-and-pound approach, travel to Sun Life Stadium to add another chapter to the divisional rivalry. This time, though, there will be more than a few familiar faces wearing Jets green. Tony Sparano and Yeremiah Bell will be the center of attention, but the offensive line is also geared up to face its former coach, Dave DeGuglielmo, who was with the Dolphins from 2009-11.
Incognito said he hopes he and his teammates stick it to them.
“It’s a big division game for us. It’s the Jets. It’s a stiff rivalry, to say the least,” Incognito said. “It’s been back and forth here in the years. Now that Tony is up there, it adds a little spice to the mix.”
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