The Dolphins’ big offensive line investment left them with 6 sacks, one hurt QB vs. Bills

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There are two “terrible things” for an offensive line to see, Austin Jackson said, and the Miami Dolphins’ saw both things over and over on the first two drives of a 35-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.

Tua Tagovailoa got sacked twice on the Dolphins’ first drive, then hurt on their second and Miami’s offensive line felt at least partially to blame when the quarterback had to get carted into the locker room with a rib injury.

“You never want to see your quarterback hurt or on the ground,” Jackson said. “Those are two terrible things that we all kick ourselves over. ... It’s tough, it sucks, it hurts, but next play.”

The problem is the Dolphins (1-1) didn’t really improve from there. On his third play after Tagovailoa’s injury, quarterback Jacoby Brissett got sacked for a 4-yard loss and Miami had to punt at the end of its second three-and-out of the game.

The Dolphins gave up six sacks and 12 quarterback hits Sunday, and got shut out for the first time since Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season. Sacks and pressure fall on more than just line play, but Miami’s offensive linemen didn’t try to duck blame.

“That was a rough day for us,” guard Robert Hunt said. “Everyone saw that.”

Tagovailoa played all of eight plays, and got sacked twice and hit once more. Brissett got sacked twice more in the first half and took two more hits. Miami trailed 14-0 at the half and then only got across midfield once after halftime.

The offensive line meltdown came in the week the Dolphins finally got to use their full-strength line for the first time. Jackson, who didn’t play last Sunday because he missed the prior week of practice with COVID-19, started at left tackle and sent rookie Liam Eichenberg to the bench.

It didn’t help. If anything, Miami’s line played worse. The Bills’ two sacks and hit on Tagovailoa both came when the rusher got through untouched. The two sacks were by defensive backs, who were left unaccounted for, and the injury-inducing hit came when Buffalo defensive end A.J. Epenesa blew clean past Jesse Davis at right tackle.

The Dolphins used seven NFL Draft picks on offensive linemen in the last three years and four of them — Jackson, Hunt, and interior linemen Michael Deiter and Solomon Kindley — started Sunday and it still wasn’t enough for Miami to handle the Bills’ defense.

“The thing about the NFL is there’s a lot of disguises, a lot of hidden things,” Jackson said. “I’ve got to look at the film to see what they did because they definitely did some different stuff than they put on tape.”

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) carted out the field after getting injured in a play during first quarter of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, September 19, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) carted out the field after getting injured in a play during first quarter of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, September 19, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Injury updates: Tagovailoa, Grant, Davis

Brian Flores did not provide further updates on Tagovailoa, Davis or wide receiver Jakeem Grant after all three didn’t play in the second half Sunday.

Tagovailoa has bruised ribs, NFL Network reported, and Flores said he will get further tests.

“I don’t know the severity of the injury right now,” the coach said, “but we’ll run some tests tonight and tomorrow morning.”

Flores’ updates on Davis and Grant were even less substantial.

Davis was late coming out of the locker room for the second half because of a knee injury and Eichenberg replaced him at right tackle for the entire second half. Grant sustained an ankle injury late in the second quarter and didn’t play in the second half, either.

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