What Are The Miami Dolphins Building?


Following the 2012 season we questioned what the Miami Dolphins were building with their team. Was it a finesse offense, a bruising defense, a disciplined team like the Shula era? We didn’t know. Then the Dolphins swapped Mike Sherman for Bill Lazor and we thought we might have an idea.

Two years later the question still remains, are the Dolphins building something and if so what exactly is it?

Initially it appeared obvious. The Dolphins offense would look more like the Philadelphia Eagles “spread” offense but this years team only kept the uptempo pace a fraction of games this season. In many cases it appeared that the offense was having someone put the brakes on them. While it can’t be confirmed there were more times than not the Dolphins offense resembled more of the Mike Sherman offense than the Eagles under Chip Kelly where Bill Lazor worked in 2013. Did Joe Philbin put his foot on that break? The team did get very conservative at times.

Defensively there wasn’t much change from the previous years. The team still doesn’t know who to build around. Is it an over 30 Cam Wake? There isn’t one single other player defensively to build a defense around and frankly Wake isn’t exactly a player you build around anyway.

The Dolphins are continuing with the defensive line rotations that have upset players like Randy Starks and Jared Odrick who are taken out in critical game series because that’s how the rotation fell. Players, I can assume, are not getting the opportunity to get a feel for a game as it progresses and let’s not get started on half-time or in-game adjustments.

On offense you would hope the team would build around Ryan Tannehill and while they have added offensive weapons, or tried to, they have failed to fix an oline that has been subpar since the days of Dave Wannstedt. Are they building around Tannehill? Are they planning on building an offense that is supposed to be a Bill Lazor blueprint or is Lazor saddled with a head coach who keeps him on a leash? If it’s the latter then 2016 will see Lazor move on from the Dolphins and find success elsewhere.

The truth is there is no direction for this team. It’s not a high-scoring offense, it’s not a run oriented offense, or a passing offense. It’s a balanced offense that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. It’s not designed to include the tight-ends any more than it’s designed for plays more than 20 yards downfield. The offense isn’t a bruising style that can pick up 3rd and 1’s any more than it’s built for picking up eight yards on first down.

On the other side of the ball Miami isn’t a blitz happy defense. They don’t disguise blitzes, they don’t run stunts, they don’t put constant pressure on the quarterback, and they can’t stop the run consistently. They have solid coverage skills but they don’t create a lot of turnovers and often are placed too far off the wide-receivers. Are they better at press coverage? Zone? Man to man?

Entering 2015 the Dolphins direction is as good a guess as any I have. To me that is a waste of talent. And I do believe that this team is very talented. Talented enough to make the playoffs and chase the Patriots for a division title. I don’t however believe that the coaching staff are using them to the best of their abilities.

Olivier Vernon while having a good season didn’t live up to the expectations after his 2013 season, Dion Jordan is still an unknown, Jelani Jenkins is underutilized, and the list goes on.

Somewhere during this off-season someone needs to devise a directional plan, implement it, and then stick with it because right now nothing is really working well. It’s only working at times and at times does not win you championships.