Could New Position, New Scheme Bring Out the Old Eichenberg? – Sports Illustrated


Liam Eichenberg will have to change positions again while adapting to a new “attacking” running scheme.
“It's a completely different offense, as you guys probably can tell from watching San Francisco film,” Eichenberg said. “So, just different new coaches, new style, new scheme. So, kind of just focusing now on the present and trying to improve every day, trying to learn the offense as best I can.”
The former second-round pick from Notre Dame is looking to bounce back from a rough rookie season that included multiple position changes, while allowing 62 quarterback pressures, according to PFF.
Eichenberg played 943 snaps at left tackle last season, but with the Dolphins signing Terron Armstead in free agency, Eichenberg’s chance to see the field is at guard or right tackle — head coach Mike McDaniel said after the Armstead signing that he was the left tackle and every other position was open for competition.
Eichenberg spent last offseason working at guard but started the season opener at left tackle, and then played the next three games at right tackle before spending the rest of the season back at left tackle.
In his three games at right tackle, he allowed eight quarterback pressures and 11 quarterback hurries, according to PFF.
Eichenberg said he feels comfortable at left guard but what position he’ll play isn’t at the forefront of his mind. Becoming an expert in Miami’s new running scheme is.
“It's more about understanding the offense right now,” Eichenberg said. “We're moving around; just depends on the day, so just try to understand everything from a whole scheme standpoint, and just understand the playbook.”
Eichenberg hopes new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel’s heavy wide zone scheme (the Dolphins ran mostly inside zone last season) can help him live up to his second-round billing.
Eichenberg’s former Fighting Irish teammate and current 49ers right tackle, Mike McGlinchey, gave McDaniel’s scheme a good review when speaking with Eichenberg about the change.
“(McDaniel’s scheme) is great,” Eichenberg said. “It's not about guessing or hesitating. It's just kind of run off the ball, and then whatever happens, happens. You've just kind of got to deal with the outcome, make changes on the go.”
Typically, a wide-zone running scheme lends itself to offensive linemen with above-average athletic ability and arm length. While his 32-inch arms don’t lend themselves to success, Eichenberg’s short-area quickness certainly does.
He finished in the 82nd percentile in the 20-yard dash and the 79th percentile in the three-cone drill at the NFL combine — two drills that project well to success in a wide-zone rushing attack.
Another way to make up for his lack of length is with technique, something Eichenberg is harping on this offseason.
“I think a lot about technique, and I pride myself on that,” Eichenberg said. “So I think it's good for us that a lot of guys are getting the hang of it and improving. So just one day at a time.”
Regardless of where Eichenberg ends up playing this season or if McDaniel’s scheme helps him get back to his college form, Eichenberg is enjoying working with the new coaching staff.
“All I know is (McDaniel) said that he believes in us,” Eichenberg said. “I mean, that's all I can ask for. So, you know, him giving us an opportunity to compete and play and believing in us is the most important thing. So it's good having a coach, you know, he's a good dude, and he obviously believes in us.”



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