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The 2015 Miami Dolphins have been a major disappointment through the first month of the season. After entering training camp with high expectations due to the talent on the roster, the team started the season and has looked just awful in all four games they’ve played.
Owner Stephen Ross had seen enough and less than a day after the Dolphins lost to the Jets in London, he fired fourth year head coach Joe Philbin and replaced him with tight ends coach Dan Campbell.
Philbin’s tenure in Miami will always be remembered for its mediocrity and lack of intensity. It’s a safe bet that the same won’t be said about Campbell, for however long he keeps the job.
The first thing he did in his first practice with the team is put them through the grueling Oklahoma drill, which has become an unofficial no-no amongst NFL teams due to the extensive concussion protection protocols that are practiced now-a-days.
Campbell has two weeks of practice to begin to change the culture in Miami. We’ll get our first look at the post-Philbin Dolphins in two Sunday’s when they travel north to face the Tennessee Titans.
In the meantime, here are the top questions surround the Dolphins as they work through the bye week.
Will Dolphins players respond to Dan Campbell’s aggressive coaching manor?
From the moment his introductory press conference began it was clear that things would be much different under Dan Campbell than they were under Joe Philbin. Campbell comes across as a direct, no-nonsense kind of guy who isn’t going to put up with professional football players being passive or lethargic. While he’s expected to bring a new kind of intensity to Dolphins practices, he doesn’t come across as a ‘rah-rah’ head coach who only tries to pump up his players with long speeches and silly clichés.
Can the Dolphins defense get any better…or worse?
Through four games so far this season the Dolphins defense ranks near or at the bottom of several key statistical categories. Despite having players like Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, Brent Grimes and Reshad Jones, the unit has struggled mightily regardless of who they’ve played against. They have made mediocre quarterbacks look like Pro Bowlers and average running backs look like LaDanian Tomlinson in his prime. It would seem that things can only get better but another month of efforts like what we’ve seen can make things a whole heck of a lot worse.
Is it possible for Miami to be successful with the current offensive line?
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has peeled himself off the grass countless times during his short NFL career. He rarely, if ever, has time to drop back and set up in the pocket and allow his receivers to run their routes. The offensive line has been so bad that Miami brought in an offensive coordinator who could implement a fast-paced offense with a lot of short and quick routes to try and neutralize the poor o-line. While that offense seemed to have success last season, the line has gotten so bad that even those short, quick routes don’t have time to develop.
The playbook is so limited due to there being no time for the quarterback to throw that the offense is basically playing with one hand tied behind its back. Between constantly playing from behind and the lack of efficient blocking, the run game has been almost non-existent. It’s a BIG problem, this offensive line, and it doesn’t seem that there’s any way to fix it. Better players are what is needed and there aren’t any on the current roster. The front office counted on their draft picks to greatly improve instead of spending money to bring in solid, consistent players with proven records. And now because of that poor decision and lapse in judgement, the Dolphins offense is going to continue to suffer. Miami could be the first team to employ a 6-man offensive line… maybe that would work.
Are changes to the coaching staff going to make a difference?
Making Dan Campbell the interim head coach wasn’t the only change to the Dolphins coaching staff this week. Campbell hired veteran assistant coach Al Saunders and his 40 years of experience to be a senior offensive assistant. He’ll work with Phil McGeoghan and the wide receivers. Other changes include naming former assistant quarterback coach Ben Johnson the new tight end coach, replacing Campbell. Mike Wahle was named the new assistant tight end coach. Kevin O’Keefe will move from being the receivers coach to now becoming a senior offensive assistant.
The thing to notice about all these changes is that they are all on the offensive side of the ball. For now, Kevin Coyle and his defensive staff will remain in place. That could change in a day, or not for the rest of the season. The decision is now Campbell’s to make. There are reports that Coyle went to Philbin last week after the defense had their ‘airing of grievances’ meeting and asked to change things up based on what the players said. Philbin said no, wanting to keep doing what they’ve been doing in hopes that eventually it would click. Now the only click Philbin will hear is when he turns on his television from his couch at home.
Has the time come to bench Ryan Tannehill?
So many people have been quick to throw Ryan Tannehill under the bus and label him as a bust, especially during the first month of this season. You cannot, I repeat, CANNOT fairly evaluate a quarterback when he’s only played behind an abysmal offensive line, especially a quarterback that has only been in the NFL for a few years. Tannehill has ascended every year of his career despite playing behind a horrible offensive line. No quarterback has been sacked more than Tannehill since he came into the league in 2012. He could very well be the quarterback of the future (and present) for the Dolphins but to say he isn’t without giving him a chance to make decisions in the pocket is a joke.
Be sure to check out our FinsOn4 Live Dolphins Blog where we will be posting season-long coverage, updates, photos, video, commentary and more throughout the entire 2015 season.
Watch Miami take on the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, October 18th at 1:00 p.m. on CBS4, your official Dolphins station!
Follow David on Twitter (@DavidDwork)