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Offense Features A Lazor-Like Focus On Tempo

Posted Jul 29, 2014

Tempo is a word that comes up a lot when you talk to Dolphins players about the new offense.

New Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor addressed the media after practice Tuesday, giving quick and decisive answers to every question thrown his way.

In essence, he conducted the interview pretty much the same way he wants his players to run the offense.

“I think the No. 1 thing we want to do is play with great tempo,” Lazor said. “There are a lot of different definitions of that and I think you have a chance to see enough of it on the practice field. At the snap of the ball, we want to be fast. That’s including our offensive linemen coming off the ball in the run game. And part of it is knowing what to do and be decisive. In this league, you’ve got to play fast, you’ve got to be physical.”

Tempo. That’s a word that comes up a lot when you talk to Dolphins players about the new offense.

Sure, there have been other changes made, starting with more pre-snap motion and getting players in space, but it seems it always comes back to tempo and playing fast.

Lazor is happy with the way the offense is progressing, but that doesn’t mean he won’t keep pushing. The goal is to always go faster.

“Every day, every day,” he said. “I don’t know much you can hear me, but my voice is like this because I’m yelling, ‘Tempo.’ I’m trying to get them out of the huddle faster. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable for the line to make the calls that quickly. The quarterback might want them to settle in and make the calls. We don’t want it. We want to go. We want to go. Every single day, it’s a push. They know it. They understand it. They also understand it’s hard and they’re trying. I’ll keep pushing.”

Listening to Lazor talk, it’s clear the man has a lot of energy.

His players feed off that energy.

“His tempo, it’s exciting,” wide receiver Mike Wallace said. “The plays. Every single day when he comes in with a new play, he’s excited about the play. So when he gets excited, we automatically are going to get excited. It’s fun. It’s a fun offense to play in.”

Lazor took over as Dolphins offensive coordinator on Jan. 15 after he spent one season as quarterbacks coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

It was one memorable season, though, as he helped Nick Foles — who began the season as a backup before replacing the injured Michael Vick — finish with a 119.3 passer rating. That figure led the NFL and was the third-highest in league history.

Lazor was asked what it was that made Foles so successful last season and how that could apply to Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

“At the quarterback spot, it’s a couple of things,” Lazor said. “Number one, it’s accuracy. Number two, it’s decision-making and then after that you’ve got to have a certain level of toughness. You’ve got to be able to stand in there. It’s not easy. And there’s no way to prepare for it until you come out to these practices.

“I think (Tannehill is) an extremely hard worker. He’s shown to be accurate out here. He’s shown to get the ball out quickly. I think he has all the zip on the ball that you need. Ryan is extremely willing to do it the way we want him to do it. He’s just trying as hard as he can to learn it. Some of the things are different maybe than what he’s done in the past, but that’s football. We’re just going to try to give him opportunities to grow and keep going forward.”

In the new offense, Tannehill is likely to be asked to roll out more often and he could find himself carrying the ball on zone-read plays, too.

There’s clearly an adjustment period for Tannehill, who played the past six seasons in the system of former Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who previously had been his head coach at Texas A&M.

“It’s a completely different system,” Tannehill said. “I think there are always some similarities between offenses. But we have some new concepts, some things we haven’t done in the past, pushing the ball downfield in many different ways. Spreading the field is going to be a big key. Noticeably from the stands, you can see as far as spreading the field in the run game and in the passing game.”

Another staple of the new offense is that any receiver can line up anywhere on any given play.

That puts a premium on having versatile players, and the Dolphins certainly have their share of those. At the top of the list is tight end Charles Clay.

“I’m excited about Charles,” Lazor said. “I think Charles is a unique guy at tight end. I’ve had the opportunity to be around a lot of good ones in this league. I think he’s a very sudden player. There’s lots of pictures of him on video last year getting matched up inside and just being explosive with his quickness, being hard to cover. On the practice field, what we see is just a continued development in route technique. We want to open the world of more things for him to do. We want to utilize his speed, his explosiveness. I think also, he’s not as big as some guys, but he’s shown his willingness to stick his face in there. We’re going to try to help become an all-around player at the position. I’m really excited.”

Having to face the new offense on a daily basis, the Dolphins’ defensive players clearly have noticed the changes.

“A lot of tempo, fast pace,” is how cornerback Brent Grimes described the new offense. “A lot of movement, a lot of changing parts and just keep the defense off balance. That’s what they try to do.”

Ultimately, what Lazor wants to accomplish is make a difference. That’s what he said after being hired, and he elaborated on that Tuesday.

Basically, Lazor said he was putting the responsiblity on himself to make a difference as opposed to trying to draw attention.

Above all, though, Lazor just wants to keep driving his players.

“What I would say is, part of your job as a coach is to provide energy,” Lazor said. “If they have energy, then it’s a lot less work I have to do.

“It’s my job to show them that they can go faster. It’s my job to take them places that maybe they didn’t think they could get to. And then every time you do that with a player, you see his eyes kind of widen and he’s like, wow, I can be better, I can be better. That’s what we’re looking for.”
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