Miami Right Guards In Focus
It’s been the battle nobody has wanted to win. Well, perhaps someone has wanted to win it but the performances on the field have suggested otherwise.
But somebody is going to have to play right guard for the Miami Dolphins and right now it looks like it’s going to be given to a guy who, rather than looking the best, doesn’t look as bad as the other guy. In the blue corner we have free-agent signing, Shelley Smith, fresh off a nice run at the end of 2013 where he showed some chops in the running game.
In the red corner is Dallas Thomas, a 2013 third-round pick on whom the team wants to see a return. He’s coming off what can only be referred to as a knockout after Gerald McCoy humiliated him in Week 2 of the preseason, meaning he starts from the bench with Smith getting a chance to impress.
Round 3 is up and so how did they perform against Dallas? Ding ding!
Adrenalin pumping. Opportunity knocking. Davon Coleman in your way. What are you going to do? Well, Smith struggled somewhat against Coleman who was tasked to just knock him off the line of scrimmage and get some penetration. This was evident at 12.15 in Q1 when Smith was rocked with a powerful bullrush.
He didn’t fare much better in two play’s time. After working to the second level he has position on Justin Durant, but the linebacker just skips around him as if he’s not there. As a general rule it’s always good when a blocker gets a hand on a defender, any defender, on a play.
That wasn’t the worst of his play, though, as things get whiffy. With 7:55 to go in the quarter, Smith is lead-footed off the snap as he tries to engage Coleman. Only with Coleman attacking his inside shoulder he’s left blocking space and doing his utmost to stop his face hitting turf. As another general rule, it’s rarely much good when a lineman ends up facing his own end zone when run blocking.
That’s a small sample size of his struggles — there was some good as he was perfect in pass protection outside of allowing a free rusher early in Q4, and he did show something as a run blocker, generating movement on his final play of the first quarter — but it wasn’t a great showing. Not enough to throw in the towel given what Smith did last year and how he’s been moved about this offseason. But concerning.
Concerning because, despite his play, Smith (in my opinion, at least) should still be the starter.
This chiefly comes down to the struggles of Thomas and you need only look at his first play in the game. With 38 seconds to go in the first quarter he’s knocked off the line, before Coleman disengages to make the tackle.
Thomas actually leaves the game then and doesn’t return until 12.25 left in the first half where he is beaten by a Coleman spin move that sees his quarterback bloodied as he scrambles and is taken down. It’s not pretty to watch. Thomas would last five more snaps with the starters.
We touted the run blocking ability of Smith as the Dolphins snapped him up in free agency, but if he’s going to live up to that he’ll need to play better. The Dolphins simply don’t have another viable option.
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