Jonathan Martin's Struggles Should Be Miami Dolphins' Primary Camp Concern

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Jonathan Martin's Struggles Should Be Miami Dolphins' Primary Camp Concern
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

If the Miami Dolphins season rests in the hands of left tackle Jonathan Martin, they're doomed.

Luckily for the Dolphins, football games are not won or lost by one player.

Up to this point in training camp, though, it's not been pretty for Martin.

Rookie defensive end Dion Jordan had his way with Martin at Wednesday's practice, which caused a bit of a stir among fans and reporters alike:

This is not the first we've heard of Martin's struggles in camp. In fact, he was being beaten handily by defensive end Olivier Vernon "a lot," according to Miami Herald beat reporter Armando Salguero.

The Dolphins tried to re-sign free-agent left tackle Jake Long but lost out in a bidding war with the St. Louis Rams. Thus, the Dolphins were faced with two options: replace Long via free agency or the draft, or move Martin to left tackle and find a new right tackle. They went with the latter of the two options, signing former Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Tyson Clabo.

The problem is, as bad as Martin was at right tackle, he was worse on a play-by-play basis in five games at left tackle. He gave up more pressure on a per-snap basis on the left side than he did on the right.

It makes sense since he was up against better competition with the defense's best pass-rusher typically lining up across from him.

Will Martin's struggles at left tackle be the undoing of the 2013 Miami Dolphins? It's too early to tell.

If he doesn't turn it around before the season starts, the Dolphins will be faced with some tough decisions.

The contingency plan behind Martin isn't very promising, though.

Nate Garner filled in at right tackle when Jake Long went down last year, with Martin moving to the left side. The Cowboys signed Jeff Adams as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and cut him before the season began. Only after a trip on and off the Bengals practice squad did Adams make his way to Miami.

Will Yeatman is listed as the third offensive tackle, but he is a converted tight end and weighs 270 pounds.

You know things are bad if we see any of those three players get any significant playing time at left tackle. 

It would take a similar disaster to force the Dolphins' hand in switching Clabo to the left side. He has less experience at left tackle in his seven years in the NFL than Martin has in his one year.

They could consider helping Martin by putting a tight end next to him in protection. The problem with that plan is, it eliminates a potential threat in the passing game and consistently tips the Dolphins' hand with regard to protection schemes, making it easier for the defense to draw up a weak-side blitz.

It certainly doesn't bode well for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who would probably love to have some extra time in the pocket to find his weapons in the passing game.

Tannehill was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL when throwing under pressure in 2012, but unsurprisingly, his completion percentage was higher when there were no defenders in his face.

Clearly, a little pressure on the athletic and mobile Tannehill won't be the end of the world, but in a sport where all 11 men are required to do their job in sync and where one weak link can make the whole chain fall apart, the Dolphins need to be mindful that their weak link could result in the illustrious plans for their passing attack going awry from an early stage.

 

Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all stats obtained from the Sports-Reference.com network and all quotes obtained firsthand or via team press releases.

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