Bill Lazor, Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator. Picture courtesy of CBS Miami Local.
The Miami Dolphins have had issues with offensive coordinators for quite some time. The last truly decent OC the team had was, in my opinion, all the way back to Scott Linehan who coached with Nick Saban. For one season. Since then we have watched Cam Cameron play double duty. For one season. Watched Dan Henning bring his out of date philosophy to the team for three years. Brian Daboll did a decent job but really didn’t have the overall talent and freedom to do his job. Then came Mike Sherman who, like Henning, brought an ancient and outdated philosophy. Sure the West Coast Offense is a really good one, if you know how to call the plays. Sherman didn’t.
Now we are asked to put our trust into new OC Bill Lazor. Lazor has been an OC for the Buffalo Bills in 2001 and a head coach at the collegiate level. Last year he came back to the NFL to serve as a QB’s coach under Chip Kelly. Kelly’s offense was potent, fast, and scored points. Most of the time. Lazor was credited with the development of Nick Foles. So much so that the Eagles let Michael Vick ride the bench when he got healthy and then the unemployment line.
Naturally the question of who would have the control over the offense has been a hot topic of debate. Many believe that Lazor is the right man for the job. But only if HC Joe Philbin stays out of it. The same people that believe Lazor will do well in Miami also believe that Joe Philbin will exert too much of his own ideas into the offense. Making it more like Sherman than anything else. The Dolphins have tried to truly implement a WC offense with a slight hybrid approach but they lack a seam threat TE that can double up in two TE sets. Something that the WC utilizes quite often. Last year they also lacked an offensive line. A position that every offensive scheme needs to be working properly.
The good news is that the offensive line may have been fixed. With Ja’Wuan James at RT and Billy Turner and Shelley Smith competing for the guard position and Sam Brenner a likely candidate to remain at LG, the Dolphin may have a solid foundation to work the offensive system that Lazor wants to employ. While TE is still a bit of a question mark, lacking a true seam threat they have gotten better at blocking from the position.
Still, the question remains as to how much control Lazor will actually have? If you believe a recent Miami Herald article, he may just have all of it.
The Herald points out that Lazor was told by members of the Eagles not to accept the Dolphins OC job unless he had total control over the plays being made. Including over Joe Philbin. Thus far the players that have seen the playbook and have worked with Lazor on it are excited about what it could bring to the team. To be fair, players are not likely going to bash the system or the coach publicly but privately we should have already heard some grumblings about it. We haven’t so that is a good sign.
In Philadelphia, Chip Kelly ran a spread offense and in Miami they run a hybrid WC style. Players are saying the new offense combines a bit of both with two TE sets, spread formations, under center and shotgun formations. According to the Herald report. For the first time in a long time Miami Dolphins fans might finally get a look at an aggressive play calling OC. And why wouldn’t they? Unlike his predecessor, Lazor is an up and coming coach not one on the tail end of his career. If Lazor aspires to some day run his own team then he could turn a lot of heads by turning around the Dolphins offense.
A lot is riding on the upcoming season. Joe Philbin’s job in Miami. Ryan Tannehill’s job as the Dolphins franchise QB. Dennis Hickey’s job as the GM. To say nothing of the other coaches, scouting department, and even players. Offensively a lot is riding on the shoulders of Bill Lazor and the Dolphins may have caught a huge break getting him now when in another year or two demand could have been much, much higher.