ESPN projects modest growth from Dolphins’ OL in pass protection

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The Miami Dolphins are entering into the 2021 season with plenty of stability on the defensive side of the football, but the offense must once again prove themselves as capable and illustrate their ability to build upon a 2020 season that saw a slew of rookies taking snaps for the team. No group better embodies that than the team’s offensive line; which had three rookie starters by the end of the season in Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt and Solomon Kindley.

The Dolphins are holding competition for just about every job on the field this summer, but it certainly feels as though there will be a starting five that includes each of these three players come September.

How much better can they be? The Dolphins themselves are eagerly awaiting the chance to put on pads and find out; as the line will serve as an essential layer to Miami’s season and their bid to make a postseason run. And with another rookie potentially starting in 2021 with former Notre Dame tackle Liam Eichenberg, the mystery and intrigue factor is ramped up even more.

One outlet is willing to forecast a modest bump in efficiency in pass protection for the Dolphins’ front. ESPN’s current forecast for Pass Block Win Rate (which measures instances of holding a block in pass protection for more than 2.5 seconds) isn’t necessarily promising: their 54% pass block win rate is 30th in the league. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants project as worse.

But it is better than the team’s 2020 outcome in the metric, as Miami scored 51% in their pass block win rate last season. That number was at 51% — tied for 25th through 28th in the league.

If you’d like to choose that as a silver lining, go right ahead. One area of potential hope to outperform this projection lies with Eichenberg. The ESPN model automatically assigns a below average grade to any player who did not play over the last two seasons — so if Eichenberg starts (say at right tackle) right away and plays well, he could be the catalyst to a bigger jump in efficiency from Miami in their pass protection versus expectations.