Tuesday, January 28, 2014

John Benton named assistant OL coach

It might come as a shock to you that the Dolphins' offensive line did not perform at an ideal level in 2013. To that end, the team has added a quality name to the coaching staff in John Benton, who spent the past eight seasons as the Texans' offensive line coach but was let go upon the arrival of Bill O'Brien.

Benton coached one of the most successful
offensive lines in the NFL in Houston.
Prior to joining the Texans in 2006, Benton worked with the Ram' offensive line in 2004-05. He became his career as a graduate assistant at Colorado State (1987-90) followed by a stint as OL coach and recruiting coordinator at California University (Pa.). He served as Colorado State's offensive line coach from 1995-2000, while adding the title of co-offensive coordinator from 2000-03.

Despite the regime change in Houston, it's a little surprising that he was let go given the immense success of the Texans' offensive line in recent years. His tutelage has led to Pro Bowl selections of center Chris Myers, tackle Duane Brown, guard Wade Smith (a former Dolphins castoff), and, indirectly, running back Arian Foster.

Benton joins offensive line coach Jim Turner on Joe Philbin's staff, though it remains to be seen whether Turner will maintain his job in Miami in 2014 after such a dismal performance by his unit last season. Some have speculated that he could be made the scapegoat after the Wells report investigating the Martin-Incognito scandal comes out next month, but I personally would rather have severed ties at the same time Mike Sherman was let go and just be done with it rather than waiting for a chance to fire him with cause.

For now, Benton will assist Turner in the monumental task of shaping and building what looks to be a very different offensive line. Only center Mike Pouncey is a lock to return in 2014 (barring any legal issues in the Aaron Hernandez case), while the team's free agents include Bryant McKinnie, Tyson Clabo, Richie Incognito and John Jerry.

The Dolphins are certainly looking at 3-4 new starters in 2014, quite likely a mixture of free agents (high-priced or stopgaps) and draft picks. Benton installed a highly-successful zone blocking scheme in Houston, which is something the Dolphins' have lacked the personnel for in the last two years despite it being Philbin's style as well.

If the Philbin, Turner, Benton and new GM Dennis Hickey can all get on the same page, the impact of this hire could eventually be a great one with a fresh start in 2014 and the potential to build a quality, cohesive line for years to come.