Last month, Miami Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano and General Manager Jeff Ireland participated in a conference call for Season Ticket Members that lasted over 30 minutes as the duo addressed numerous questions from fans. Yet, it wasn’t until the last question of the night, from a Season Ticket Member named Eric, that Sparano was asked the question that has been on the mind of fans all off-season.
Sparano’s reply: “If the offense is anything like the offensive coordinator, then it’s got to be more aggressive. …He’s not afraid to cut it loose a little bit. I think the offense will be much more exciting and what I would also say is that it will be a lot less predictable.”
More aggressive and less predictable … sign me up. The stats show that in 2010 the Dolphins offense struggled to create big plays as only three teams in the entire league had fewer passes of 40+ yards than the Dolphins did. The Dolphins don’t need to become a run-n-shoot offense; in fact, the team will still rely heavily on the running game but taking a few more chances down the field could greatly aide the unit this fall. Of course, part of being more aggressive is having players capable of making big plays and the Dolphins have added speedster Edmond Gates along with the young legs of running back Daniel Thomas to the offense and there’s the possibility of more additions in free agency.
The new, more aggressive, less predictable approach figures to help the Dolphins offense in 2011, but the larger question is, “Will the quarterback play improve in 2011?” While the Dolphins still may add a quarterback when the league year begins, one way the team can get better production from the position would be improvement and development from Chad Henne. Is Daboll the right guy to help Henne take the next step? Mary Kay Cabot, Browns beat reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer had a chance recently to speak with The Finsiders about Daboll, who she covered for the past two seasons during his tenure with the Browns, and she said, “the thing that I was most impressed with him about is what he was able to do with Colt McCoy last year, getting him ready to play as a rookie against the Steelers, Saints, (Patriots) and Jets. Colt did a really good job in those games and I attribute a lot of that to Brian Daboll.” Indeed, McCoy did help lead a Browns offense to a pair of games with 30 or more points in wins over the Saints and Patriots after stepping in for an injured Jake Delhomme.
During his time working on the offensive staffs of the Patriots and Jets, Daboll has had a chance to work with Tom Brady and Brett Favre. While Brady and Favre are obviously elite all-time QBs, Daboll is careful not to expect that out of every quarterback according to Cabot. “He tries to figure out what you do well and then he tailors the game plan around the things that he knows the players will feel comfortable with on that day,” she said. “He really listens to the players and develops a very good repertoire with the players.” If Daboll can help design an offense around the strengths of Henne, the Dolphins young QB could be primed for a breakout year.
We have also heard great things about the type of guy the 36-year old Daboll is. As Sparano told fans, “this guy is completely out there in the left lane and he goes as fast as he can all the time. Anybody that knows Brian knows that he’s going to come with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of excitement.” Cabot also says that Daboll is cut from the same cloth as Sparano, a man known to arrive to work well before 5 a.m. “The first thing that Brian brings to the table is just an unbelievable, tireless work ethic,” Cabot said. “Last year he burned the midnight oil with Colt McCoy.”
The question keeps getting raised by skeptics of Daboll, “Why would you hire a guy from Cleveland, a team who had the 31st ranked offense in 2010?”
Well, as important as coordinators can be, it’s hard for even the best of coordinators to overcome a lack of talent in certain situations. For instance, that Packers defense that ranked #2 in the NFL in points allowed in 2010 and helped lead the team to a Super Bowl victory over the Steelers was coordinated by Dom Capers. Yes, that’s the same Dom Capers that couldn’t save the injury riddled 2007 Dolphins defense.
In Daboll’s case, the 2011 Cleveland offense was hamstrung in part by a lack of talent at the wide receiver position. The Browns top two wide outs last year were Mohammed Massaqoui and Chansi Stuckey. With all due respect to them, neither is in the same class as Brandon Marshall or Davone Bess, whom John Congemi says might be the best WR duo in the entire NFL. Daboll will have Marshall and Bess at his disposal this fall along with Brian Hartline, Edmond Gates, Anthony Fasano, Charles Clay and other talented receiving options.
Daboll is yet to call his first game as the Dolphins offensive coordinator, and the true measure of his success will be the production on the field, but so far it’s good to hear what’s being said about the new man at the helm of the team’s offense.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.