DAVIE — Nobody needs to tell Laremy Tunsil last season didn’t go well for him. It’s been on his mind for months.
In his move from left guard back to his natural spot at left tackle, he struggled with missed assignments, inconsistency and just straight-up getting beat by defensive ends. The Dolphins’ coaching staff thought it’d be an easy transition for him, but that’s one of the toughest positions in the game regardless of how familiar a player is with it.
Tunsil’s not hiding from how poorly he played, but he’s not going to stay stuck on it, either.
“It was a bad taste, a horrible taste,” he said today when Miami wrapped up its offseason practices. “I just wanted to improve my game. That’s the main thing I was dwelling on. I know I could’ve been better.
“Now I’m here and it’s a new season, new person. Let’s get it.”
Burying the past is probably for the best, and Tunsil’s right to think of this as a fresh start.
He spent a lot of time analyzing film of his mistakes in the offseason, zeroing in on his worst games and thinking through the corrections. New offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn has been an uplifting influence on him after a chaotic year for that unit last season and he’s intent on keeping everything positive for Tunsil. He’s also got a new wingman at left guard in Josh Sitton, a four-time Pro Bowler with a decade of experience.
All of those elements are working together to set Tunsil up for a bounce-back year.
“I just wanted to work on my overall game: pass, set, run game — anything,” he said. “I just wanted to be a complete player.”
Sitton’s presence, both as a mentor and as a better player than anyone Miami had at left guard, is gives the Dolphins good cause for optimism with Tunsil. If he stays healthy, he’ll make Tunsil’s job easier and steady the line.
Sitton said last month he’s eager to help Tunsil and their relationship is already off to a good start. They’ve spoken extensively throughout the offseason, and Sitton is setting the example the Dolphins want Tunsil to follow.
“The guy you’re playing next to, you see how he operates,” coach Adam Gase said. “You see how he works in meeting rooms and then comes on the field and works individually. That’s the thing I’ve been most impressed with.
“I think (Tunsil) being able to talk to him every day, as far as, ‘Hey, what do we want to do here?’ or ‘How do we want to set on these pass rushes?’ — those two guys working in tandem is going to be a big thing for us.”
The Dolphins’ overhaul of their offensive hinges largely on whether Tunsil is able to establish himself as the top-quality left tackle they envisioned when they drafted him 13th overall in 2016.
They started him at left guard because Branden Albert was at left tackle, then offloaded Albert to Jacksonville to make room for Tunsil’s triumphant return to the position last season. It didn’t go as planned.
“I never assumed it was going to be easy,” said Tunsil, who was a left tackle his entire career prior to his rookie season. “Playing left tackle at the highest level of football, I never thought it’d be easy.
“It’s very natural, but it’s the highest point of the game. You get what I’m saying? You’re going against some of the best athletes in the game. It’s always going to be a competition every week.”
Now they’ll line him and Sitton up on the left side next to new center Daniel Kilgore, a much more affordable option than three-time Pro Bowl pick Mike Pouncey. Jesse Davis is done jumping around and has settled in at right guard next to tackle Ja’Wuan James. Those moves won’t matter much, though, unless Tunsil turns it around.
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