By Abraham Gutierrez
A pair of 4-7 teams fighting for their playoff lives will lock horns Sunday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium when the Baltimore Ravens pay a visit to the Miami Dolphins in Week 13. Despite coming in as the team that’s expected to lose, it’s no secret that the visiting Ravens – winners of two straight games – will have momentum on their side versus a Fins team that’s lost two in a row entering play.
Having that said, one predicts that the most recent changes to the coaching staff will help Dan Campbell improve his record to 4-4 as Dolphins head coach. In fact, the firing of offensive coordinator Bill Lazor – who was handed his pink slip following the Dolphins dismal showing against the New York Jets last week – will be a blessing in disguise for this club.
Most Fins fans would be willing to admit that, in retrospect, Lazor should have joined former head coach Joe Philbin and ex-defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle in the NFL’s unemployment line. Truth is that a fresh start, a system the players can buy into, along with less pressure and expectations, are just some of the things this particular Miami team needs to perform at its fullest potential.
During the first two weeks after Philbin’s firing, the Miami offense responded by scoring 38 points against the Tennessee Titans and 44 versus the Houston Texans. That’s due in part to the freedom that the changing of the guards created, as well as the element of surprise – given the fact that Lazor was able to open up the playbook and take more chances as expectations dropped tremendously with Philbin’s departure.
However, this offense was guilty of going to the well too many times (with its play-calling), as tasting success for the first time all year got them drunk pretty quickly. Thus, it became easier for opposing defenses to prepare knowing that they were offensively challenged due in part to a limited number of plays that actually worked.
Luckily, things are about to change, yet again. However, this time, it should play into the Dolphins strengths, as quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor takes over as OC, and Phil McGeoghan has been promoted to wide receivers coach.
This could enable the Dolphins to take the emphasis away from the running game, which is non-existent due to personnel, and instead allow Ryan Tannehill to show if he’s indeed the future of this franchise, or just another name in a long list of failed signal-callers.
With wide receivers like Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews, along with tight ends such as Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims ready to become a focal point of this offense, the Dolphins are better suited to open the playbook for Tannehill to showcase what he can do, prior to making a decision on his future.
The idea that a team has to have balance on offense is simply a myth. With that understanding, it would be wise for the Dolphins to stop pretending that Lamar Miller is big enough to be a full-time NFL halfback, and instead utilize him in open-field situations.
The sooner the Dolphins can come to the realization that letting Tannehill determine their fate is their best bet (with what they have), the faster many questions may be answered, including weather he’s worthy of the moniker “franchise quarterback.” This will also allow the flow of the offense to run smoother (throwing the ball on every other down, if necessary), rather than continue to break the offensive rhythm by forcing an ineffective running game to try and pick up the slack.
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, Examiner.com and other online publications.