Brian Flores explains decision to start Liam Eichenberg at left tackle

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The Miami Dolphins’ offensive line has been a closely inspected dynamic for a franchise that has been looking for the answers up front for the better part of the last decade. You don’t think of quality offensive line play when you think of the Dolphins — but all of the investments Miami has made as of late hope to eventually change that narrative. Week 1 of the 2021 regular season brought a surprising twist, however.

2021 2nd-round draft choice Liam Eichenberg got the start at left tackle despite the fact that 2020 1st-round incumbent Austin Jackson was available after missing the week of practice due to COVID-19 protocols. It would be easy explanation if missing the week of practice left Jackson ill-fit to suit up. But when asked on Sunday night about the decision to play Eichenberg over Jackson, head coach Brian Flores offered a different kind of assessment of the situation.

“Just playing – trying to play the best five guys. You know, Liam has done a good job throughout camp, played multiple positions. We just wanted to start the best five guys,” said Flores.

That isn’t to say that Jackson isn’t among the “best five guys” when he’s not immediately coming out of the COVID-19 protocols. But this response also doesn’t eliminate the possibility that the Dolphins perceive their five best linemen to not include Jackson in general. This, without clarification, becomes a fascinating subplot for Miami’s offensive line construction.

As far as how Eichenberg played?

“I mean, without watching the film it’s hard to say whether he played well or didn’t. Look, there’s a lot of corrections to make from the game I’m sure, but I think Liam fought – actually I know that. I didn’t watch the film but I know he fought his butt off, and I’m sure there are some corrections to make really for him and everyone on our team. It’s good to make those corrections with a win.”

Indeed it is.