THE UNSUNG HERO OF THE MIAMI DOLPHINS
In today’s NFL, we have sportscasters and pundits constantly reminding us of the franchise quarterback, diva wide receiver and high priced defensive player signings. We are constantly being reminded of the players that score the big touchdowns, make the long run or the crucial stop to save a game.
One position that always seems to go unnoticed during the season, and is just as important as the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and the premier defensive player, is the left tackle position. Many of the great left tackles are remembered on few occasions, but few are mentioned on a daily basis.
If you open the pages of the Miami Herald or visit your favorite Dolphin’s websites, there isn’t a lot of daily praise about the Miami Dolphin’s franchise left tackle. It is as if he is often forgotten during the season and when it ends, we remember him only because of his pro-bowl selection or the many accolades that he has received.
Remember two years ago when the Miami Dolphins drafted Jake “The Giant” Long as the first overall pick in the ‘08 draft, all the talk was how Miami should not pass up on Matt Ryan. ESPN’s Mel Kiper said he would never be nothing more than a right tackle, how could Miami pass up on a franchise quarterback like Matt Ryan? Scouts and draftniks everywhere kept saying Jake did not have the quickness to be a premier left tackle in the NFL; they questioned how a team with no quarterback could pass up on a future franchise QB like Ryan. You could count with the fingers on your hands the few who said Jake would be a future franchise left tackle in the NFL.
Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano paid no attention to ESPN, the NFL Network or the draftniks. They did their research and days before the ’08 NFL Draft, the Dolphins would go on to sign the former Michigan product to a contract that would make him the highest paid tackle in the league, no pressure at all for a twenty-two year old rookie coming into a league of men. On the day of the ’08 NFL Draft the commissioner took the stage and announced Jake Long as Miami’s first overall pick of the draft.
From that day forward, all eyes were on Miami and Jake Long. If Long failed, the Dolphins would have been set back for years and Jake would have been compared to the likes of Tony Mandarich, Mike Williams and Robert Gallery. If Long succeeds, the Dolphins find themselves a franchise left tackle for years to come, only to follow in the steps of the great Richmond Webb.
Needless to say the Dolphins won big on that day. The Trifecta found the Miami Dolphins and Dol-fans around the world a very special player for years to come. Jake Long in two years has become the corner stone of Miami’s o-line. In his rookie year, Jake helped protect the blind side of Chad Pennington in Miami’s Division Championship and playoff run.
Jake has already earned himself two pro-bowl invitations in his young and stellar career. He has excelled in pass protection, something draftniks said he would never do as a left tackle. The Dolphin’s franchise left tackle has also excelled in run blocking helping the Dolphins have back to back 1,000 yard seasons from their running backs.
He was a big part of the Wildcat’s unbalance line formation, which required him to switch to right side of the line. In two years Jake has allowed only seven sacks, almost half the tackles in the league allow that in a season. The young giant has played every snap and has proven not to be injury prone. Jake is a silent leader, who leads by his play on the field.
I wanted to provide Dol-fans here on Finheaven with a little more info on Jake “the Giant” Long, so I asked Sam Monson of Profootballfocus.com to let me in on some key stats of our franchise left tackle. In the email he provided us with an excellent article showing us just how good Jake Long really is. The following is an excerpt of the email he wrote:
Throughout the year most have been impressed by Jake Long, with his sophomore year going a long way to dispel initial concerns that he was more suited to play right tackle. If anything, his pass blocking has been better than his run blocking, with fine performances throughout the year giving him the lowest (and therefore best) Pass Blocking Productivity Rating of 2.37"
He has 6 games on the season where he failed to allow a single recordable QB pressure and another 5 games of 1 single QB hit or pressure without a sack allowed. That's 11 total games with no sacks allowed and just a single QB pressure or hit in 5 of them. Long saw 100% of Miami's offensive snaps last season, and in his 611 snaps pass blocking he allowed measurable pressure (including any sacks) in just 20 of those snaps. That's a measurable pressure in every 30.55 drop-backs on the season.
As if all that wasn't enough, he's a pretty good run blocker too!
Wow!!! Those are some amazing numbers for Big Jake, it can be said he is one of the best left tackles if not the best left tackle in the league. We all know how difficult it is to find a franchise left tackle in the NFL. With the NFL Draft just around the corner, there will be plenty of teams looking for players of Long’s potential, but Dol-Fans can sit back drink a cold one and scratch left tackle off of our Mock Drafts. What Big Jake has done for the Dolphins in his young career should not go unnoticed especially by us the fans. That is why, Dol-Fans, I hope that with my first column I have reminded you all of The Unsung Hero of our Miami Dolphins, Jake “The Giant” Long.
Thanks go out to the entire staff of Finheaven.com for allowing me this opportunity and Sam Monson of Profootballfocus.com for providing me with info on Jake Long.
Reference material: Article on pass blocking productivity
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