The finish to the 2013 season for the Dolphins left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. The struggles against two divisional opponents in the final two weeks to narrowly miss the playoffs was something that has stayed with every member of the ‘Fins organization since December.
With a new season on the horizon, there’s clearly an emphasis this year on getting over the proverbial hump and ascending to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The only way that happens is if all the new pieces brought in this offseason come together, and – according to Brian Baldinger of NFL Network – one side of the ball holds the key to success this year.
In an interview with the Finsiders, Baldinger talked about the new changes on the offensive side of the ball for the Fins, including the addition of new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.
Baldinger believes that Lazor’s fresh style coming over from Chip Kelly’s dynamic offense in Philadelphia could do wonders for the Dolphins, and that we will see a type of explosive offense that we did not get to see that much of in 2013.
“I think you’re going to be really surprised by Bill. Literally just like his name implies, he’s razor-sharp, just laser-focused,” said Baldinger. “I think you could see it up-tempo. I think you could see a condensing of the playbook. I think you’re going to see at times a wide open attack to spread the field to run the ball. I think he’s going to bring an awful lot.”
Baldinger thinks that Lazor’s similar style to Kelly will inject new life into an offense that, at times, showed how deadly it could be with its big play ability.
“I think he has his own ideas, but you can’t help it, even if it’s one year with Chip Kelly, I don’t care who you are. You can’t help but be influenced by what that guy does and how he coaches, and I think it’s going to be a real breath of fresh air,” said Baldinger. “I think it’s going to be like almost mind opening to any Dolphin fan, to the league, and AFC East of what I think this guy can bring to the table.”
Now for the Dolphins offense to be successful at all this year, quarterback Ryan Tannehill obviously needs to be well protected. It’s been a huge talking point since 2013 ended that the Dolphins needed to address the offensive line, and they’ve made a couple moves so far in free agency, including the marquee signing of Branden Albert.
However, Baldinger sees another new player besides Albert having a major positive impact on that positional group: guard Shelley Smith.
“He’s kind of undersized, so that’s the knock on him. But they picked him up off the street in St. Louis and they plugged him in,” said Baldinger.” There was a period of time in St. Louis where maybe two years ago where he was about as good a run blocker at that position as there was at left guard in the league. He could come off the ball and he could roll his hips. He’s a guy you want to keep your eye on as they try to rebuild this offensive line.”
If the offensive line can get it together, that will create plenty of opportunities for 3rd year quarterback Ryan Tannehill to shine, something that Baldinger thinks needs to happen this year. His expectations are high, but warranted given the talent that he and the players around him possess.
“Playoffs. It’s all about going to the playoffs. They had a great chance last year and they folded down the stretch in the last two games. The jury’s out. I like Ryan Tannehill a whole lot but eventually, your quarterback has to win for you,” said Baldinger.
“You have to make the plays and make the throws and you got to win games. Ryan knows that, and it’s that time now. I don’t care what the Jets have done, what Buffalo’s doing or even who the Patriots are, it’s time for the Miami Dolphins to get to the playoffs.”