I've been dropping hints here and there that earlier this camp the pace of the Dolphins practice, particularly in their offensive drills, was not exactly fast.
It has improved. And last week coach Tony Sparano talked about how things have sped up and how one practice finished 10 minutes ahead of schedule. That's good ....
... but not good enough.
Now that the Dolphins have apparently picked up the practice pace, I implore them (yes, I know you coach types read this drivel) to go faster still. Like really, really, really fast.
Because speed is a wonderful weapon when found in the legs of a player. And t is also a mighty weapon when used by an entire offensive unit against an unprepared or slightly off-kilter defense. A quick pace puts the defense on its heels. A quick pace works against a defender's head as well as his body.
A fast-paced offense (run a play, get back in the huddle, jog out of the huddle, ID the mike, and GO!) dictates to the defense. The last few years, I've heard too many Dolphins coaches and players talk about "taking what the defense gives us."
Good offenses take what all they can. All of it. Even some stuff the defense doesn't really wish to surrender -- such as the pace of the game.
Take last night's Patriots versus Bucs preseason game in Tampa, won handily by New England 31-14. It was a classic case of an offense simply out-pacing the defense. New England's pace was so good, the Bucs couldn't get lined up.
"A lot of times we’d get the call but we couldn’t get lined up," Tampa Bay defensive lineman Gerald McCoy said. "They were moving the ball so fast. Now we have to learn to recognize formations to attack quicker. Tempo. That's why I love our head coach so much. He made things more difficult for us tonight on purpose. He did. That’s how you learn.
"(DE Adrian) Clayborn came to me and was like, ‘Oh my god, it was so fast!’ I said, ‘I know! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!’ It was a reality check, we needed that.
"Man, I’m telling you man, they came out, they’d turn around huddle, snap, oh, 'There’s the Mike, Go!' I was like, ‘Dang! Um, Mr. Brady, can we line up?’ He didn’t care. He was like, ‘You’re not going to line up.’ When we turned around one time I checked back around and my hand was going to the grass and they were like, ‘Hut!’ And I said, ‘Noooooooooooo!’"
I want that for the Dolphins. The Dolphins should want that for the Dolphins.
I recognize the Dolphins are installing a new offense. I recognize they do not have Tom Brady at quarterback. I get all that.
But I also understand the Dolphins will be on the same field versus Tom Brady and the Patriots in the regular-season opener. And if they're going to keep up, they have to get an offense going that can, well, keep up.
So I'm simply saying that means putting the defense back on its heels. That's one way to seize the initiative. We shall see tonight against the Carolina Panthers if the Dolphins are closer to picking up the pace. One expects it should be better than last week against Atlanta when Miami didn't really look good enough versus the Falcons' starting D.
The Panthers should be another story. Better be another story.