“We’re going to be snap that ball at 33 seconds every time,” Garrard said. “It’s going to be non-stop, and defenses will be tired because they won’t even get to put their hand on the ground. You’ll see a lot of d-linemen just standing up, just trying to do the best that they can.”
That tempo has been the most consistent overlying theme of the on-field portion of the offseason, extending to all facets of the team, defense and special teams included. Players, especially those who were in Miami for the past few seasons, quickly noticed that the new coaching staff wanted to speed things up. Garrard said it really is unlike anything he witnessed in Jacksonville.
“You’d might have one period where you called organized chaos,” Garrard said. “When I first got here, it seemed like all the way through practice, it was run here, run there, tempo, tempo. People were flying everywhere. Now that we kind of have an understanding of what they want, we’re still not going as fast as what they want.
“When we’re actually going to their tempo and their speed, it must just be faster than a two minute drill. It just seems like we’re rolling.”
Since rookie Ryan Tannehill played in Mike Sherman’s system for four years at Texas A&M, it’s set up an interesting dynamic: the rookie knows the playbook better than the veterans. Garrard never really had that type of luxury when he was in Jacksonville, dealing with a handful of coordinators, each brought in to attempt to recharge the Jaguars offense. The ten-year veteran admitted this caused him to have a difficult time digesting new offenses early in his career.
Now, though, he’s been able to grasp Philbin and Sherman’s West Coast attack quickly, even surprising himself.
“I’ve been around a few different coordinators now,” Garrard said. “I’m kind of picking up everybody’s little different things. Really, once you just figure out this name goes with this play, it’s pretty easy.”
No athlete ever wants to miss action because of injury but the ability to remove himself from the insulation of a full season’s grind helped Garrard look at things differently. By mid-season, he had reacquired his competitive fire, diving into last season’s action and watching the NFL with a totally different perspective. It wasn’t really about just watching what was happening; it was about trying to figure out why teams were succeeding. He noticed that teams that were able to keep drives alive with short-to-intermediate passing and timely running, staples of Philbin’s offense in Green Bay, succeed the most.
As he’s become engrossed in West Coast philosophies, he’s noticed that a lack of a strong running game is a common misperception.
“You have to be able to run the ball, so that you can set up the play action and take that shot down the field,” said Garrard, a Pro Bowler in 2009. ”It’s not just all quick game. You have to be able to do that. You have to be able to stay ahead of down and distances.”
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