When Adam Gase spoke about why the Miami Dolphins signed veteran guard Ted Larsen in free agency, he noted that the Chicago Bears utilize a “mirror-image” offense.
“(Chicago) started doing some more outside-zone scheme and we were able to see what he looked like doing that,” Gase said at the NFL owner’s meetings in Phoenix.
Larsen played 16 games for the Bears last season, with eight starts. Larsen, 6-feet-2, 315 pounds, was ranked the 44th-best guard by Pro Football Focus.
Larsen agreed to a 3-year, $5.65 million contract with a cap hit of $1.42 million in 2016, which according to spotrac makes him the 56th-highest paid guard in the league.
This is a very reasonable contract for a potential starter. Larsen started at right guard for Chicago, but Gase indicated he might play the left side if Jermon Bushrod holds onto his starting position on the right.
Bushrod is also vulnerable to competition from a draft choice or another free-agent acquisition.
Gase said that there are coaches on Miami’s staff who have worked with Larsen before and recommended him. Gase also said: “I’ve heard he’s our type of guy and we’re just kind of excited to see what we’ve got.”
Miami’s plan was to add a guard (and they might not be done, as the draft approaches) who would not break the bank and yet seemed a reasonable scheme fit capable of, well, playing capably.
The Dolphins finished 8th in the NFL with 4.5 yards per rush last season. And the Bears finished 6th with 4.6 yards per rush. Miami is hoping Larsen’s contributions to those rushing plays will translate to South Florida.
In a review of each offensive play from the tape from two Chicago Bears games from 2016, it seems Larsen’s play is solid.
The Daily Dolphin chose to review both of Chicago’s games against Minnesota (10/31 and 1/1) because Pro Football Focus mentioned Larsen in each weekly recap and because Bears running back Jordan Howard had his two best games in those contests (153 and 135 rushing yards).
Here are some notes on Larsen, the 29-year-old who was once a 6th-round draft choice of the New England Patriots:
• Moves his feet from the right side to the left side of the offensive line quicker than expected. Shows good mobility on outside-zone run plays.
• Generally holds up OK at the point of attack against strong interior linemen. Often ties up pass-rushers inside with his hands.
• At least gets in the way on most run blocks. Generally keeps his feet moving and shows required intensity. At times, loses balance falling forward.
• Can be susceptible to a speed rusher, as many guards are, when facing a spin move or outstanding size/speed combination.
• Should be able to help create some holes for running back Jay Ajayi, as he did for Jordan Howard, because he was seen on multiple occasions successfully sealing potential tacklers both to the inside and outside.
In summary, Larsen seems a reasonably athletic, generally steady, slightly above-average run blocker who seems capable of being at least an average overall starting guard in the NFL. He also provides emergency depth at center.
If it plays out as Miami expects, Larsen will allow the club to limit liability at guard at a reasonable price.
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