MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Once the final whistle of the Super Bowl is blown, NFL fans begin counting down to the next time they can see their respective teams strap on pads and helmets and get back to work. Those countdowns came to an end this week as NFL teams around the league took the field and began preparing for the 2014 season.
In total, 25 NFL teams began or resumed their organized team activities (OTAs) on Tuesday while six more teams waited until Wednesday to get started. The only team not holding OTAs this week is the St. Louis Rams, who begin their organized team activities on Tuesday, June 3rd.
The Miami Dolphins are one of the teams that began their organized team activities on Tuesday of this week, allowing the veterans and rookies the opportunity to take the field together for the first time. With so many new faces on the Dolphins in 2014, every chance the team gets to work together on the field will be extremely valuable.
Much of the focus, especially in these early days of workouts, will be on Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense. The third-year quarterback is entering the most important season in his young career and needs to prove that he is the long-term answer for the Dolphins at that position.
Tannehill has shown flashes of greatness but his overall performance needs to show more consistency. With a 15-17 record and no playoff appearances in his first two campaigns, Tannehill will be given every opportunity to succeed in this make or break season.
The Dolphins offense will be operating under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor who arrives in Miami with a long pedigree of success and is coming off of a very successful 2013 season as the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback coach. Lazor is widely credited for the success of rookie quarterback Nick Foles, who led the NFL with a 119.2 passer rating and set an NFL record for touchdown-to-interception ratio (27:2).
Lazor began his NFL coaching career in 2003 for the Atlanta Falcons under then head coach Dan Reeves as an offensive quality control coach. Reeves wasn’t the only coaching legend that Lazor was able to tutor under as he also had stints in Washington under Joe Gibbs and in Seattle under Mike Holmgren and Jim Mora, Jr.
After that Lazor became the offensive coordinator for the Virginia Cavaliers, where he stayed from 2010 to 2012 before returning to the NFL to work under Chip Kelly with the Philadelphia Eagles. Following a successful 2013, several teams courted Lazor but he choose to come to Miami and help build up an offense that already has several key components in place.
For the Dolphins offense, there is nowhere to go but up. Over the past two seasons Miami is tied with Jacksonville for the fewest number of games with at least 30 points. In 32 games played between 2012 and 2013, the Dolphins and Jaguars cracked the 30 point plateau just two times apiece.
It will be up to Lazor to turn things around and find a way to get the Dolphins in the end zone more often, and he’ll have to count on Tannehill to lead the way.
Miami’s first priority this offseason was to shore up the offensive line, and new General Manager Dennis Hickey wasted little time in doing so. He signed free agent left tackle Brandon Albert and drafted rookies Ja’Wuan James and Billy Turner in the first and third rounds respectively.
All three are expected to be starters on the Dolphins revamped offensive line, but Hickey also added depth by signing free agents Shelley Smith and Jason Fox to compete with returning players like Dallas Thomas and Nate Garner. Miami’s offensive line was awful in 2013 but its already looking to be much improved, a great sign for Tannehill who was sacked a franchise record 58 times last season.
As for the rest of the Dolphins offense, the talent is there. Playmaking receivers Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, joined by rookie second round pick Jarvis Landry, lead the way in a very deep pool of wide receivers.
Charles Clay is coming off of a breakout season in which he emerged as a top tight end in the NFL. Miami also drafted rookie tight end Arthur Lynch out of Georgia who has both size and skill and could emerge as a major asset to the Dolphins with both his blocking and catching abilities.
Dennis Hickey didn’t stop there; adding running back Knowshon Moreno who also has a skill set that covers several areas of need for Miami. Blocking and pass catching are both areas that Moreno has excelled, and at just 26 years of age the former 12th overall pick continues to work hard at improving every aspect of his game.
Even with all the talent that Miami has compiled on the offensive side of the ball, none of it will matter if the Dolphins can’t put points on the board come September. The task falls on the shoulders of head coach Joe Philbin and his new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.
“We’ve got a talented offensive staff,” said Philbin following the Dolphins first OTA practice on Tuesday. “We’ve got guys that have worked very hard. They work well together. I’m really pleased about where the staff is at this particular point in time.”
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