Blog 2: Life on the Line: A behind-the-scenes journey into Jermon Bushrod’s 11th NFL season

October 19, 2017

BY Jermon Bushrod AT 4:13 PM ON 10/19/17

It’s been a crazy first five weeks of the season. Crazy might actually be an understatement — but it’s all part of God’s plan and after another comeback win while staring in the face of adversity, we are in a decent spot at 4-2.

It’s almost surreal to sit back and reflect on everything that’s happened since training camp. Here’s a refresher:

The madness began with Ryan going down and Jay coming in at QB. Then came Hurricane Irma which canceled our first game, took away our bye week and led to sudden temporary relocation to LA. We beat the Chargers, came home and barely had time to check in with our family/friends/neighbors who were still — and continue to — piece their lives together from the hurricane damage. Then there was the first trip to NY where we played terribly against the Jets. Next was a long (nearly 18 hours both ways) trip to London.

A few weeks ago, we were hit with another major hurdle when Chris Forester, my position coach for the last two seasons, unexpectedly resigned. We did our best to lace up our cleats, throw on our pads & helmets and go to work business as usual. Then came a flight to Atlanta — but finding a way to overcome a 17-point deficit, on the road, against the defending NFC Champions makes it worth it all. I have a feeling we might look back at that game as a turning point in our season, but I’m not going to get ahead of myself just yet.

To wrap it all up — we took care of business against the Jets this time around, even with Jay getting hurt and Matt (Moore) having to step in. Matt is an impressive QB. He’s hung around the NFL for a long time — and has proven he can compete with the best of them.

I don’t take this team’s grit lightly. It’s hard enough to win in the NFL when everything is clicking and going right. We aren’t where we want to be, but have been able to stay afloat amongst some of the most adverse situations I’ve seen in my 11 seasons in this league.

All of these “outside distractions” could have derailed our season at any point along the way. We could have used our circumstances as an excuse — but instead — it’s almost as if we’ve used them as fuel. It’s easy for fans to tune into the games and get frustrated when we can’t move the ball, or have a bad play, and I totally get that. But watching every guy do his part to keep us moving in the right direction — when everything is stacked against us — is one of those intangibles that can’t be coached. That’s been the most impressive thing about the 2017 Dolphins… just to see this team react and respond. Trust me, we all know it hasn’t been pretty at times, especially on offense, early in the year. But here we are at 4-2 nearing the midway point of the season. That gives us a chance, and as I’ve learned in this league, that’s all you can hope for.

A few things to cover…

I have a few things to cover as it’s been a while since I put out a blog, but I want to get this out of the way first as I haven’t really publicly addressed it. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in my room trying to let my body heal after the Titans’ game. My phone kept lighting up — which isn’t uncommon considering I’m in several different group chats with my friends. This time was different though. It didn’t stop. I kept getting notification after notification and knew something wasn’t right.

I had several text messages about a video that surfaced online involving Coach Foerster. Let me be clear. Chris is one of the better coaches I’ve been around. He knows what he’s doing and there’s a reason he’s had a consistent NFL job for 25 years.

In saying that — I couldn’t believe what I was watching. It didn’t seem real.

It’s just another example of the behind-the-scenes struggles that so many people face, but we often never know until they hit rock bottom. I’ve shared text messages with Coach and told him I’d be keeping his family in my thoughts in prayers. He can bounce back. He will bounce back. We all make mistakes and as terrible as this looks & seems now, it’s not too big to overcome.

It just meant the offensive line would have to adjust on the fly and communication became even more paramount. We have to have a heightened sense of vigilance, constantly fine-tuning the little things with focused detail. Our performance in Atlanta was a solid start. We added to that with Sunday’s victory over a division foe. We can handle this, just like we’ve handled every other obstacle God has placed in front of us this year.

 Everything coming together 

 I’m quick to criticize myself when I don’t play well — and our offensive unit, especially up front — has been a constant work in progress with plenty of speed bumps since Week 1. I like the way we’ve rebounded as of late, though, with 6 offensive touchdowns over the last two weeks.

We beat the Chargers but I watched the tape closely — and there were a few plays I left out there. I was really critical of myself against the Jets and the Saints. As a unit, those weren’t our best outings either. The Titans game was a step in the right direction up front, and it’s no coincidence that led to our first time finding the end zone in a while.

The Falcons game, though? I’m proud of how we played — from top to bottom — on both sides of the ball.  Sure, we fell in an early 17-0 deficit against one of the most high-flying offenses in the NFL, which only heightened our offensive urgency. I’m proud of how my fellow offensive linemen played — and you can see for yourself how

Jay (Cutler) wasn’t sacked once. Jay Ajayi finally had some nice holes and rattled off 130 yards on the ground. We did our jobs — but don’t get it twisted — there was plenty to fix heading into last Sunday’s game vs. NY.

It was like deja vu against the Jets — starting slow but finding our groove late. That won’t work week in and week out, but it’s been successful for two-in-a-row. We finished the day with 357 total yards of offense, 25 first downs and four touchdowns. Again, not perfect, but we got it done.


Perfecting the craft

 People often ask about being a veteran in this league — and if I feel totally comfortable with my individual play. There’s a notion that I just got it all down pact now, but that couldn’t be further from reality.

I’m always perfecting my craft. It’s a daily grind. The learning process never ends. If anything, now more than ever, it’s vital to stay on top of my game and find new & innovative ways to adjust to the stronger, faster, hungry young players who want to prove themselves against me.

Coaches don’t have to yell at me about the mistakes I’ve made. When I watch the film, I already know exactly what I did wrong and what I can do to change it. When it comes to offensive linemen and the difference between doing our job correctly or giving up a bad play — most of the time — it has to do with technique. Your technique has to be tighter. You have to be more crisp, you have to hit the correct landmarks when you’re up front. When I went back and looked at the tape after the first Jets’ game, I noticed I had a BAD TFL (tackle for loss) up the middle.

I thought it was because I missed with my hands, but it was actually my second step. My second step wasn’t good enough. It went vertical instead of diagonal and I had no chance of making the correct block the way I wanted to. My technique failed me. I got the QB hit once, it wasn’t a sack but it was a hurry on Jay. When I broke that play down, I noticed my pass set wasn’t where it needed to be. When I couldn’t cover up the defender like I wanted to and my hands weren’t in the right target, it made Leonard Williams’ job easier. He double-hand swiped me and went around my right side because I didn’t cover him up like I knew I was supposed to. Because of my position, my hands couldn’t be where they needed to be to make the play.

One thing I ALWAYS try to do is watch film of other players, on both sides of the ball. What are they doing to perfect their craft? How can I learn from them? It’s all about constantly adjusting and checking yourself to avoid complacency.

Right at this moment in time? I feel like we are in a good place as a team. Now, we have to just keep building and moving forward — without taking any steps back. This is the time of year where teams start to break away from the pack. I have a great feeling about this group.

Until next time,