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Good news came Wednesday for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins have chosen an offensive coordinator who has the credentials and the expertise to help take Tannehill to another level. That alone makes this hire well worthwhile.
Bill Lazor is a former quarterback at Cornell and has spent his coaching career working with quarterbacks. His most recent accomplishment was helping to turn Philadelphia’s Nick Foles into the league’s most improved quarterback. How sweet would it be if he could do the same for Tannehill?
“I’ve watched Ryan,” said Lazor. “I’m really excited to work with him.”
Tannehill was clearly a better player in his second season. But that improvement was tempered by his struggles in the final two regular season games. It is undeniable there are elements of his game that still need considerable work. His pocket presence. His deep throws. His decision-making. And just a general refinement of everything he does.
You look at Lazor’s bio, you evaluate what he has done both in college and the pros, and you see why the Dolphins were so interested. You see why other teams were interested as well. Lazor shares Joe Philbin’s affinity for the West Coast offense. That’s good. That will make the transition easier.
But there’s more to it than that. Lazor worked last season under Eagles coach Chip Kelly and got a first hand look at Kelly’s innovative ways. The no-huddle. The hurry-up style. All the shifts and the formations that cause so much confusion for a defense. I would imagine this aggressive approach intrigues Philbin. It should. It got the Eagles into the playoffs in Kelly’s first season.
There is little doubt at this point that the Dolphins offense requires the most attention this offseason. The offensive line needs to be rebuilt. An evaluation must be made of the talent level at running back. And plays must be installed that take advantage of Tannehill’s skills. All will fall under Lazor’s guidance.
It’s good to get a fresh approach, good to bring someone into the fold who can take a step back and evaluate the players and the strategies. Lazor brings with him a wealth of experience and has worked for some excellent offensive minds – how does Mike Holmgren and Joe Gibbs sound? Needless to say, he’ll have plenty to draw upon in his first professional stint as an offensive coordinator.
Those who know Lazor say the Dolphins could not have gotten a better man. They point to his intelligence, his creativity and his work ethic. He’ll have to call upon all three to help turn this offense around.
But, at the end of the day, it all comes back to Tannehill. There is no limit to the impact that the right coach can have on a quarterback, especially a young quarterback.
Look at Foles with the Eagles. Under Lazor’s guidance, Foles went in one season from a back-up role to having the third best quarterback rating in league history. That’s heady stuff. Now, it wasn’t all Lazor’s doing. But you know he had an impact.
As Joe Philbin put it: “Bill has been instrumental in helping players reach their full potential.”
More than anything else, that will be his challenge with the Dolphins in general and Tannehill in particular.
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