Miami Dolphins: How Ja’Wuan James overpowered, dominated Chargers

This is the Ja’Wuan James the Miami Dolphins want to see. (Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images)

DAVIE — The tape is beautiful to watch, if you are an offensive line coach.

There is Ja’Wuan James, the Miami Dolphins right tackle, doing everything right against Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, two of the premier pass rushers in the NFL.

“Probably the best game that he’s played since we’ve been here,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase gushed Thursday.

This was James at his best. This was James living up to his first-round draft pedigree.

This was James stonewalling pass-rushers, down after down after down.

This was James burying linebackers at the second level, opening gaping holes for Jay Ajayi.

This was James anchoring his position and sometimes throwing faster, quicker men right to the ground.

“He fought,” Gase said. “He was battling the entire game.”

The Dolphins exercised a fifth-year option on James before this, his fourth season. But the Dolphins have asked James for more. They’ve believed he can be more consistent. They’ve believed he can be more aggressive.

If this tape was the one used to evaluate James, a long-term offer would already have been made.

“I thought I had a better game sometime last year,” James said of Gase’s comments. “But I guess it’s a good thing. It’s a compliment.”

James knows he played well.

Anyone who studied this tape could see he utterly dominated the men playing for Los Angeles (or San Diego, or whatever.)

James shared with The Daily Dolphin the biggest key to his success last Sunday.

“Really this year, the focus is the hands,” James said. “Being confident in shooting with your hands. When you play good guys like that, you’ve got to create separation. Because if they get in your body, their hands are so good that they can disrupt you and the passer. So it’s really just being confident with your hands but not leaning on them too much or not short-arming it. Just really be confident in what you’re doing.”

Travis Wingfield of the LockedOnFins podcast, put together a great string of James highlights on Twitter. Here are three of the clips Wingfield posted (story continues below):

There were times last season when James didn’t execute the correct assignment.

But one of the reasons he feels he can perform at a much higher level this season is repetition.

“I’m more confident in what I’m doing with a second year in a second system,” James said. “I’m more confident in the plays so I can play a lot faster. When you know what you’re doing you can see stuff before it happens, because the game slows down. That helped as well.”

James explained what he would tell any young offensive linemen facing a Pro Bowl-caliber pass-rusher.

“On film, a lot of guys when they face somebody good like that, they wade or they just try to get in front of them,” James said. “You’ve got to take it to them. Because if you wait to take it to them you’re halfway beat. So you’ve got to go ahead and match them with whatever they’re doing.”

Gase wants more and more of what he saw on tape from James on Sunday.

“I thought he was physical in the run game,” Gase said. “He did an outstanding job in the run game. That’s why we had a lot of those big runs (that) came on his side. He did really well in pass protection. He was very sound execution-wise. As far as things that he has been working on technique-wise, things went really well. If we get that from him game-in, game-out, I’ll feel really good about our tackles.”

If James, 25, can play close to the level he did on Sunday all season, the Dolphins would be in a position where they really want to offer James a long-term contract before next season.

“I just have to maximize my opportunity right now, my moment right now,” James said. “On this team right now. Who knows, I might be somewhere else next year. I would love to be here. But it’s the business side of it. I’ve seen guys go. But it’s about maximizing these games. I love being here. I love playing next to these guys like (Jermon) Bush(rod) and LT (Laremy Tunsil) and Mike (Pouncey) and everybody. I’m just focused on right now. So whatever happens after this happens.”

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[RELATED: Photos from the Dolphins’ Week 2 matchup against the Chargers]

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