The Miami Dolphins opened training camp on Friday morning and will continue to drill the players for the next two weeks before they break camp and begin preparation for their pre-season schedule and the start of the regular season. One of the biggest questions coming into this training camp was what Joe Philbin, the new team head coach would bring with him from Green Bay. While it doesn’t begin to touch the surface, day one saw a bit of the Joe Philbin thumbprint.
The Dolphins according to several sources of fans and media were taken back by the speed of the practice orchestra. The Dolphins ran everywhere. They held two offensive drills at the same time at opposite ends of the field giving both competing QB’s more than enough reps as well as getting Pat Devlin involved. It wasn’t just the QB’s that saw that fruition of the “positive vibe” one player called today’s practice.
The wide-receivers worked both ends of the field as well giving the 12 man unit plenty of reps. Roberto Wallace lined up in the slot and was noticeably faster off his breaks. Don’t take my word for it, Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith made that observation. While Brian Hartline appeared to be slowed by his off-season injury, un-drafted rookie Jeff Fuller turned some heads. Matt Moore raved about the Chad Johnson‘s ability to catch “everything”.
While the two offenses were getting reps for their QB’s and WR’s in this new fast paced offense, the running backs were involved as well. From back-field receptions to dives and sweeps, the stacked running back corp saw Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas be joined on the first unit by Steve Slaton.
Philbin spoke throughout the off-season of getting the team ready to play. He said that the concept of the offense was to drive down the field and score points that the ground and pound game style of Dolphins past was about to be replaced with a system that lends itself to speed. If Friday morning was any indication, the Dolphins are going to be a lot faster in 2012.
The pace of practices does two things. One, it gets the player ready to run that style of play while at the same time, conditioning the players outside of the normal conditioning exercises. Fast paced practices means better conditioned players, which means faster real game situations, and inevitably, wearing down visiting opponents under the hot Florida sun.
For all of us, fans and media alike, we have yet to witness the full view of the Joe Philbin landscape. In fact, it’s likely that Friday mornings practice was nothing more than the first visible mountain and a range ahead. What we do know is that this is not the pace of years past and this is not the same coaching on the field. Joe Philbin doesn’t yell and stomp his feet. He teaches and works to correct. It’s a philosophy that his mentor Mike Sherman instilled in him. We are only seeing the tip of that.
This new found pace may not get Miami to the promised land. It may not turn the franchise around any more than those who have come before Philbin. We don’t know and it is too early to tell. However, the players believe that this new pace is exciting and fun, that their coach is understanding yet stern. They like the pace of the practice and the system that requires it. They like their coach and want to win for him, they want to win for themselves. This time doesn’t seem like idle rhetoric. This time it seems like they may actually believe it. If they do, then Joe Philbin has made the first step in rebuilding this franchise and has done something that previous coaches have failed at, he has convinced them that they can.