Dolphins hire veteran assistant Butch Barry to coach offensive line

Al Diaz/

The Dolphins filled one of several assistant coaching openings on their staff on Wednesday, hiring Butch Barry as their new offensive line coach, according to a league source.

He replaces Matt Applebaum, who was not retained.

Barry was Denver’s offensive line coach last season, brought to the Broncos by former coach Nathaniel Hackett. But several of Hackett’s assistants, including Barry, were let go after Hackett was fired in late December after less than one season in the job.

Barry is skilled at running a wide-zone scheme that’s compatible with Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel’s offensive approach.

Last year, the Broncos lost starting left tackle Garett Bolles and center Lloyd Cushenberry to injuries, limiting them to five and eight games, respectively. And the remaining personnel did not seem well-equipped to run a wide-zone scheme that was a change in approach from the 2021 Broncos.

Denver allowed a league-high 63 sacks last season, but that was at least partly a byproduct of quarterback Russell Wilson holding onto the ball too long. Denver was tied for 16th in yards per carry at 4.4.

Barry spent the 2021 season as assistant offensive line coach with the San Francisco 49ers, where he worked with McDaniel. He spent the 2020 season as a senior analyst with the Green Bay Packers.

Barry was the University of Miami’s offensive line coach in 2019. Before that, he was the assistant offensive line coach for four seasons (2015-18) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Previously, he was Central Michigan’s offensive line coach (2014) and tight ends coach (2010-13), North Greenville University’s offensive coordinator/offensive line coach/recruiting coordinator (2009), Michigan Technological University’s offensive line coach (2006) and Southwest Minnesota State’s offensive coordinator/offensive line coach (2007-08).

He first entered the coaching ranks as a graduate assistant at Central Michigan from 2002-03.

Last season, the Dolphins allowed 35 sacks, which was tied for ninth-fewest in the league. Tua Tagovailoa receives some credit for that because of his quick release.

But the Dolphins’ 4.2 rushing average ranked 23rd in the league and Miami had the league’s fewest rushing attempts.

One player said late in the season that there had been missed assignments and mental breakdowns on the offensive line over the course of the season, though it’s unclear if that was the driving factor in McDaniel changing offensive line coaches.

The Dolphins committed 35 offensive pre-snap penalties last season, the most in the league. Denver committed 28, which was 28th in the league.

Barry takes over a line with three very good starters in left tackle Terron Armstead, center Connor Williams and right guard Robert Hunt. General manager Chris Grier suggested after the season that left guard Liam Eichenberg and right tackle Austin Jackson would have an opportunity compete for starting jobs. Both were opening day starters in 2022, but Jackson missed 15 games and Eichenberg missed seven due to injuries.

All five of those players are under contract for 2023, as is versatile guard Robert Jones.

Offensive coordinator Frank Smith also took an active role in assisting with the offensive line last season, and he’s well regarded among the players.

Barry’s hiring leaves the Dolphins with at least two assistant coaching openings - outside linebackers coach (replacing Ty McKenkie) and safeties coach (replacing Steve Gregory).

Vic Fangio, who intends to become the Dolphins’ new defensive coordinator, is expected to have input in those hires.