Dolphins Left Guard Competition Opens With Larsen As Starter
Quality of play at Left Guard will be a huge determiner in this season’s success
Front and center to the Miami Dolphins success in 2017 will be the play of interior Offensive Line–right that check on that and take it to the bank.
Mike Pouncey‘s ability to work the second level is crucial in the Zone Stretch, and there’s no one on the team that can duplicate his skill set. So the news that he is as healthy as can be expected was damn good for the organization and fans alike.
But just behind Pouncey’s health, as a crucial win to the Fins success in 2017, is the quality of play at Left Guard.
Laremy Tunsil did an excellent job in pass protect in 2016, but his run blocking left much to be desired. This isn’t a knock on Tunsil. You can’t blame a Porsche for not winning a demolition derby. But, the reality is, the last complete LG Miami has had was Richie Incognito… and it’s been a while since then.
This year’s contenders for starter at LG are Ted Larsen, Kraig Urbik, Issiac Asiata, and Anthony Steen.
Adam Gase decided to open up this year’s camp with Larsen as the starter at LG. It doesn’t mean that he’ll be the starter Week 1, but he does get the first crack.
Looking over his body of work, I’m not sure he will stick as lead dog.
Can Larsen win the Left Guard battle?
But two things are an absolute truth: Gase knows a whole lot more than me, and I get it wrong on occasion.
Yet, despite my wife’s love of validating the latter, Gase did miss on Turner and Dallas, and I–and many others–didn’t… so, snowballs sometimes do have a shot in hell every now and then.
I did a film study on Larsen (check it here if interested), and I couldn’t find a good reason for him to be the best case scenario to start at LG.
At 6’2” he has limiting factors in measurables of reach and physical tools. Yes, Zach Thomas is an ever present reminder that measurables aren’t and end-all be-all, but Larsen is a late biter for a reason. He’s a solid technician and a good fit at Right Guard–but LG… hmmm, that gives me a bit of concern, unless he’s a real late bloomer.
But like I said, Gase knows more than me, so it will be a very interesting and critical position battle.
Although, to tip the hat in Larsen’s direction, the best pay per head services know pass protection was his strong suit in 2016 with the Bears.
Urbik looks the part of a prototypical Left Guard
I’m still in the camp of Urbik being the best candidate at LG (here is his film study).
Urbik has the measurables at 6’5” 330lbs and a higher plateau of a career. His 2013 campaign was supposed to be the launch pad for an excellent career as per PPF.
I’m his personal cheerleader… so I’ll be rooting for him to win: ‘Go Urbik, Go!’
Then there is Asiata, the wildcard. If somehow he can seize the spot, it would put a big feather in the cap of the 2017 Draft. But I’m just not sold on a rookie protecting Ryan Tannenhill‘s blindside–especially given he is coming off a serious knee injury.
But Asiata certainly will have his chance to prove me wrong.
Gase has set the Left Guard position up to be a Rumble Royal. Right Guard seems to have Jermon Bushrod engraved on it–then again, maybe not. But LG is certainly totally up for grabs and is one of the key battles for this camp. This regime went light on acquiring players to help the interior Offensive Line in the off season, so they have signed their names on this one in bold… whatever happens they own it lock, stock, and barrel. We fans have our fingers crossed and eyes wide open. Go Fins!!!