2016 Dolphins Preview: Coordinators

Image courtesy of the Miami Dolphins
Image courtesy of the Miami Dolphins /

The Dolphins enter 2016 with a new head coach and two new coordinators.  How well they can teach these young players will go a long way towards determining who the Dolphins will be this upcoming season.

Offensive Coordinator (OC):  Clyde Christensen

Clyde Christensen comes to Miami with 20 years of NFL coaching experience to serve as the new offensive coordinator.  While he broke into the NFL coaching ranks with Tampa Bay in 1996, it’s his 14 years in Indianapolis that made him an appealing commodity to the Dolphins.

Over the course of his first 10 years with Indy, he helped coach them to a Top 15 ranking in points scored every year except two; his first year with the team (2002) and the year Peyton Manning broke his neck and missed the entire year (2011).

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2016 Outlook:

Although head coach Adam Gase will be responsible for the play-calling to begin the season, Christensen’s fingerprints will be all over this Dolphins offense.

Expect a faster moving, not be confused with ‘up tempo’, offense with more decision-making ability being made by the quarterback at the line of scrimmage.

Miami got alot of press last year because it was believed that Ryan Tannehill lacked the ability to audible at the line last year.  Under this new offense, he will not be limited to the “run/pass” options he had his first few seasons.  Instead, can analyze the defense and choose the play he thinks will succeed under those circumstances.

While some believe that there was good reason why Tannehill wasn’t given this power in the past, all reports out of minicamp indicate that he is thriving with his newly given freedom.

Defensive Coordinator (DC):  Vance Joseph

Vance Joseph, like Kevin Coyle before him, came to Miami after serving as secondary coach for the Cincinnati Bengals.  Also like Coyle, he has no experience as an NFL defensive coordinator at the time of his arrival in Miami.

2016 Outlook:

Joseph comes to Miami looking to play a “Wide 9” defense.  It’s a version of the 4-3 defense where the DEs line up about a yard outside the OT allowing them to take a more direct path to the QB while also containing outside rushing lanes.

This will allow the DTs to get penetration because it will be harder to double team them.  The OT has to set up further outside to pick up the end.

The second attractive feature to Joseph’s scheme is the ability of Miami’s corners to play ‘press man/zone’.  Most of the time, fans will no longer have to watch their corners retreat five yards off the line at the start of the play.  By putting pressure on the WRs at the beginning of their routes, that should take away the ‘easy/short’ throws that killed the team last year.

The biggest downside, from the Dolphins perspective, is that the ‘wide 9’ scheme increases the run-stopping responsibilities for the LBs.  While Miami hopes the addition of Kiko Alonso (and moving Koa Misi back to his more natural position on the strong side) will vastly improve the linebacking corp, it remains to be seen whether that hope will come to fruition.

Whether the players can grasp & implement the offensive/defensive schemes quickly enough will ‘make or break’ the 2016 season but, either way, it should be an ‘interesting’ ride!