Brian Hartline, now in his fifth season with the Dolphins, has seen his share of ups and downs since arriving in the league. With his team standing at 3-2 heading into their bye weekend, the veteran receiver is well aware of what Miami needs to do in order to contend for a division crown in 2013.
“Play more consistent,” Hartline said to the NFL Network on Wednesday. “We came out of the gates shooting. We were very consistent, we weren’t turning the ball over, we were playing well on defense, getting to the quarterback, protecting the quarterback. Lately, that’s one of our focuses—protecting the quarterback, running the football. I can’t speak from a defensive perspective, but I know we pride ourselves on protecting Ryan and running the football. A lot of that is just the mentality and that’s something we have to get back to.”
It’s no secret the Dolphins have struggled in the area of pass protection, with Ryan Tannehill already suffering 24 sacks on the year. However, like everyone else in Miami’s camp, Hartline insists the solution involves the entirety of the offense and not just one particular unit.
“To me, protecting the football involves protecting our quarterback,” Hartline said. “And we do that by many different things, whether it’s receivers getting open so we get the ball out quicker, [running] backs picking up protections and blitzes or the line making the proper calls. The whole offense is in charge of that.”
Hartline also admitted it’s imperative Miami cleans up that area if they want to have any shot at finishing atop their division at the end of the year. After a week off, the Dolphins will have their first shot to right the ship against the Buffalo Bills.
“Starting with the Bills, [we] had a great off week to break down film to know who we’re playing,” Hartline said. “They’ve got a new coaching staff, got a new quarterback, but they’re winning football games. So, we have a lot of respect for Buffalo. A lot of teams have played other teams in division—we have not yet, so it’s a huge opportunity to get back on the right track.”
Getting back on track will likely start with Tannehill and the offense for Miami. And in year two of the Tannehill era, Hartline is impressed with what he sees in comparison to the other young talents around the league like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck.
“Ryan is improving tremendously and we are still continuing to build around him because the team wasn’t quite as ready as those other teams might have been,” Hartline said. “So we are growing.”
Hartline also hinted Miami may be looking to incorporate Tannehill’s legs a bit more as they search for solutions to the current issues hindering their production.
“He can run, man,” Hartline said. “That’s one thing that we’re getting to develop more and more into our offense.”
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