Just nine days after creating a vacancy at their offensive coordinator position, the Miami Dolphins today hired former Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor as Mike Sherman’s successor.
One of three candidates interviewed for the job, Lazor brings with him an impressive background that includes having worked under the likes of Joe Gibbs, Mike Holmgren and Dan Reeves. He clearly left a strong impression on Head Coach Joe Philbin, who is entering his third year at the helm and came from a successful offensive system in Green Bay.
“Bill is an accomplished coach and will be a great addition to our coaching staff,” Philbin said. “Bill has been instrumental in helping players reach their full potential, as players and people, at both the college and professional level. He also has a proven track record of success working with a wide variety of offenses. I want to welcome Bill and his family to the Dolphins family.”
Lazor joined rookie head coach Chip Kelly’s coaching staff last year and developed second-year quarterback Nick Foles into the NFL’s top-rated quarterback with a passer rating of 119.2, which is the third-highest in NFL history behind only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (122.5 in 2011) and Peyton Manning (121.1 in 2004). Now he’ll get the chance to work closely with Miami’s
Thanks to his success with the Eagles and specifically with Foles, Lazor was highly sought after in recent weeks by other teams besides the Dolphins, but he chose to join Philbin’s staff. The 41-year-old former Cornell quarterback feels like this is the right fit for him at this time and credited Philbin with making it an easy sell.
“It was Coach Philbin himself,” said Lazor, who thanked Kelly and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie for giving him the opportunity to coach the quarterbacks last season. “It’s about people and it’s about trusting the person that you’re working for and working with and you want to be around people with character. You want to be around people who are committed to winning and doing things the right way and I want to be around football people, which is what Coach Philbin is.
“He has a great reputation and we’ve known each other a little bit maybe casually for a number of years. But the more that I researched who he is and then when I had a chance to meet with Coach Philbin and the interaction that we had as far as talking football, talking schemes and going back and forth, it really sold me on the fact that this is the kind of person that can lead an organization. He’s the kind of person that is committed to winning and who I felt like I could come and help and picture myself working with to build a winner.”
It’s way too early to get into the nuts and bolts of what type of offensive system Lazor plans to run in 2014 and he admitted as much. He has done some research on the talent he’ll have available to him but not enough to come out with a concrete answer today other than to confirm that he will be calling the plays. He’s also looking forward to meeting the rest of the coaching staff and getting himself settled as soon possible in South Florida.
Something else Lazor shared during his conference call with members of the South Florida and Philadelphia media was how much he learned not only from Kelly, but also from Gibbs, Holmgren and Reeves. That kind of experience is priceless, especially for a young up-and-comer.
“The number one thing that I think was common among all of those coaches was that they had a vision of how offensive football should look,” Lazor said. “They had a vision of what the football team was going to look like and every single day when we went out to practice, they made sure that what they saw on the field was heading towards that vision. And that’s the job of the coaches to keep pushing it in that direction. … As coaches what I’ve learned from them is when we sit down and we put together the offense and make our plans, there has got to be a vision that doesn’t change, that we’re all committed to. And then every single day that we’re with the players and have a chance to impact them, we keep driving in that same direction.”
In Philadelphia, Foles threw 27 touchdown passes and was intercepted just twice in 13 games with 10 starts after taking over the job for Michael Vick and had a streak of 19 touchdown passes without throwing an interception. He also tied Manning’s record for most touchdowns in a single game with seven at the Oakland Raiders in a 49-20 win in Week 9, put together nine games with a passer rating of 100.0 or better and led the league in yards per pass attempt (9.1) and touchdown percentage (8.5).
The third-round pick out of Arizona played well in his team’s last-second 26-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wildcard game, completing 23-of-33 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. His 6-foot-6, 243-pound frame gave Lazor a lot to work with in Kelly’s fast-paced offense and though he wasn’t known as a mobile quarterback, Foles managed to rush for 221 yards and three touchdowns for an average of 4.4 yards per carry.
Tannehill rushed for 238 yards and a touchdown with an average of 6.0 yards per carry, finished 10th in the entire NFL in passing yards with 3,913 and tied for 12th in touchdown passes with 24. His skill set is something that intrigues Lazor and he is looking forward to working with the first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
“I was coaching in college when he came out so I did not have the chance that maybe some others had at that time to evaluate him,” he said. “But I’m excited to work with him because I see a lot of ability. From what I see it appears that he has the ability to play the game but it would be premature to make an evaluation of what he can be and what he can do because I haven’t been around him that much.”
Prior to going to Philly, Lazor spent 2010-12 as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Virginia after holding offensive coaching positions with the Seattle Seahawks (2008-09), Washington Redskins (2004-07) and Atlanta Falcons (2003). His first coaching job was at his alma mater, Cornell, where he worked with the running backs, receivers, quarterbacks and tight ends as well as serving as the school’s junior varsity coach from 1994-2000. Lazor’s final two years with the Big Red were as the school’s passing game coordinator and recruiting coordinator and his first offensive coordinator job was with the University of Buffalo from 2001-02.
Lazor’s hiring comes a little more than a week before the 2014 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., which leaves just enough time for him to get his ideas across about what type of players he likes on offense. From there, the NFL Scouting Combine is next on the horizon, so there is no doubt he will be hitting the ground running.
“I’m a competitor. I compete. This is what I’ve done and this is what we enjoy,” Lazor said. “I always enjoyed football. When I got done playing at the college level it was time to pick the next thing and to me it was the greatest way to continue to compete. I love helping to build a team; I love having the chance to impact young men’s lives, but first and foremost I love the football and going out there on Sundays and having a chance to put it up against someone else’s best and competing to win. That’s what we’re going to do everyday. We’re going to compete in the meeting room, in the classroom, on the practice field and on Sundays.”