MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Here are two stats that in tandem would have been hard to believe 12 months ago:
Of all the Miami Dolphins‘ offensive linemen, only Austin Jackson has played more this year than Liam Eichenberg (505).
Through the first 13 weeks of the NFL season, no NFL O-line has allowed fewer quarterback hits (37).
Put another way, it’s hard to say who has made a bigger leap in 2023 — Eichenberg or the Dolphins’ line as a whole. But certainly, the improvement of the former has had a direct impact on the latter.
The Remarkable Improvement of Miami Dolphins G Liam Eichenberg
Entering the season, Eichenberg was the fan base’s most scrutinized (and criticized) player on the Dolphins’ roster.
After two shaky seasons to start his NFL career, Eichenberg was a liability, many thought. He was a below-average tackle and not much better of a guard. The Dolphins’ decision to work him at center during spring ball seemed like a desperation ploy. Instead, it was a stroke of genius.
The Dolphins have needed Eichenberg to start at all three interior offensive line spots this year, and when they have, the results have been good — and in some cases, really good.
In Sunday’s 45-15 thrashing of the Washington Commanders, Eichenberg was more than steady at left guard — the third different starting spot for him in Miami’s last five games and part of the Dolphins’ eighth different starting offensive line in 12 games this year.
Collectively, the Dolphins’ line allowed zero sacks and two quarterback hits in 25 dropbacks against Washington.
“I think for Liam, especially, you’ve got to look at the bread and butter,” said Dolphins right tackle Austin Jackson. “I mean, he’s playing great ball. He’s played five different positions and started. He’s still an NFL starter at the end of the day.
“However you want to call it or cut it, he’s still a great offensive lineman in the NFL. He does a good job of inspiring the line just because he shows up to work every single day and executes wherever he’s at. You don’t see his intent change or focus change or his attitude. He’s always on his stuff and he’s always confident in himself. I think that’s one great attribute about him that will take him very far in life.”
It’s a remarkable turnaround for a player who was one of the league’s worst tackles as a rookie, when he allowed 10 sacks and committed seven penalties.
What has spurred Eichenberg’s improvement? Certainly the arrival of Butch Barry as his position coach has helped greatly.
But giving Barry all the credit would be selling him short. Eichenberg put in the work to get better — and kept the faith when many on the outside lost it.
He’s a voracious note-taker in meetings. And carries that information over into walkthroughs, practices, and ultimately, games.
“The one thing about your character that you can speak on is how you respond to that adversity,” said Dolphins fullback Alec Ingold. “Adversity and change is the constant in life and how you deal with that adversity or change is who you are as a man.
“I think everything that he’s taken in stride for as long as I’ve been here is top class. It’s his character. He’s stayed strong. He’s fighting the good fight. It’s just that flywheel of just keep pushing, keep pounding that rock until eventually it breaks and hopefully this is just the beginning. Hopefully there’s a lot more to come for the entire unit.”
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