AFC East: Ruben Riley

Dolphins unhappy with O-line development

January, 14, 2009
1/14/09
9:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The Miami Dolphins, not content with their 11-5 record, have fired veteran offensive line coach Mike Maser.

Maser's next media guide entry will state he helped the Dolphins pull off one of the greatest one-year turnarounds in league history, shaped the line for an offense that set a record for fewest turnovers in a 16-game season and sent running back Ronnie Brown to the Pro Bowl.

Not bad. But obviously not enough to keep his job.

Miami Herald beat writer Jeff Darlington reports New York Giants assistant offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo is the leading candidate to replace Maser. Here is DeGuglielmo's bio from Giants.com.

Two days after Tony Sparano took over as head coach, he named Maser his first assistant.

The Dolphins ranked 11th in rushing offense, averaging 118.6 yards a game. They surrendered only 26 sacks.

But as I wrote in a blog the day after the Baltimore Ravens ousted the Dolphins from the postseason, there are serious questions about a ground game many expected to be elite behind Brown and Ricky Williams.

In 11 games, Brown failed to rush for at least 60 yards. Williams failed to reach 60 yards in all but two games. Seven times, Williams ran for fewer than 30 yards.

The Dolphins had trouble locating serviceable depth and patching together their three interior linemen, especially after left guard Justin Smiley went down with a season-ending leg injury in Week 13.

Second-year center Samson Satele was one of the rare bright spots of 2007, but he turned into such a liability the anxious Dolphins signed Al Johnson off the street Nov. 29.

Sixth-round draft pick Donald Thomas surprisingly emerged from training camp as the starter at right guard but suffered a foot injury in the season opener. Even so, disappointing fourth-round pick Shawn Murphy was inactive every game.

The list of free-agent centers or guards the Dolphins signed and cut included Mike Byrne, Steve McKinney, Ruben Riley, Pedro Sosa, Trey Darilek and Evan Mathis. Matt McChesney was an in-season free agent who landed on injured reserve.

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