The Dolphins made a handful of coaching changes after last season and the most important one will be the addition of Brian Daboll to become Miami's new offensive coordinator. Although initially skeptical about that hiring because all I saw was the fact the new coach's offense ranked lower than Miami's last year, I've completely changed my mind on this addition.
Brian Daboll is instilling a more aggressive, more dynamic offense for the Dolphins this year than you've seen recently. The success of the unit will fall on the talent running it, but I'm encouraged by what little the Dolphins have shown in practice and Friday in the preseason opener.
The offense attacks, which is what an offense is supposed to do. It does multiple things, making harder to prepare against. And I've yet to see Daboll call the incongruous end around at exactly the wrong time.
The second most dynamic addition to the staff?
You'll hear a lot about Cox in the coming days for all the wrong reasons. Simply, the Dolphins will make him available to the media Tuesday and so the pack will write about him because its a seemingly easy story: Former Dolphins Pro Bowl player returns to South Florida to coach where he first played.
That is not the reason this hiring is important.
The hiring is important because the Dolphins are entrusting their most valuable defensive playmaker to Cox. It is up to Cox, who recorded 14 sacks in 1992, to help outside linebacker Cameron Wake make the next leap in his progression. (No, he's not fully formed yet.)
Wake led the Dolphins with 14 sacks s in 2010. So what is the next step for Wake? Well, the toughest assignment in the NFL is not having one good season. The toughest assignment is gaining everyone's attention with a good season and then following it with more good seasons.
Consistency suggests the player is maintaining a level of play, but in truth, consistency means the player is getting better because he is managing the same high level of performance despite the fact opponents are now trying to stop him, adjusting for him, scheming to erase him.
Wake has to get there. How?
He's explosive. He's got God-given gifts. Now, under Cox, the idea is for Wake to become a craftsman, a technician. Yes, he still has that amazing first step, but to remain elite he has to learn the tricks, the hand-fighting, the use of his hips and leverage.
I get the feeling Cox will also talk to Wake about harnessing his emotions. Cox was a master at it. Wake is more controlled. Maybe a little letting loose could help here.
Cox has work to do with Jason Taylor and Koa Misi as well. Misi, a grinder, needs to learn to play his position perhaps more than any Dolphins pass rusher. He gets his mostly on athletic ability and sheer determination. He needs work on his technique.
Taylor knows pretty much everything he'll ever know. But Cox is not beyond challenging his players, milking them. Cox and Taylor together are a couple of great pass-rush minds.
It is no secret I'm a fan of the Cox hire. I covered him throughout his Dolphins career. I loved the guy then and still do today. The Dolphins of the early 1990s were a finesse team. They didn't have a reputation for being able to push anyone around.
I loved the moment in 1991 when, as a rookie, Cox challenged the Cincinnati Bengals bench after they laid a hit on kicker Pete Stoyanovich. Here this almost anonymous fifth-round pick was leading the charge of standing up for Dolphins pride. Amazing.
In the summer of '92, I went to East St. Louis, Ill. with Cox when he went back home to the old neighborhood. I went to see first-hand what kind of place this guy had molded this fearless, confrontational, often angry man. I remember him asking me, "Are you crazy?"
East St. Louis was then and I suppose remains today a tough place. The most obvious example of how tough this place was is the city government had street lights flashing red and yellow starting at dusk rather than running through their natural progression. The idea was to let motorists stop only momentarily at the lights rather than sit there for a couple of minutes -- because that way drivers wouldn't get jacked up or pulled out of their cars as often.
I visited with Cox and his family for three days. After my visit one day, I announced it was time for me to go back to my hotel. It was around sunset. Cox, obviously concerned I kind of stood out in the neighborhood, asked if I needed him to follow me out of town.
"Do you want to borrow my gun?" he offered.
If I had been smarter I would have said, "You betcha!"
Obviously it was a cool experience for me. Cox was always open and honest. The guy hated Buffalo and he said so -- remember the Bills at the time where Miami's biggest rival and the reason the the Dolphins didn't make at least one Super Bowl.
The Cox dual one-finger salute of the folks at then Rich Stadium is a classic detailed below. It led to so many stories and a feud between Cox and the NFL that I could not possibly detail them all here. It was, shall we say, interesting. And, believe it or not, it served to unite the Dolphins defense behind Cox because all his teammates were enraged at the situation.
Cox played with vengence and the team lost something the day he went to the Bears in free agency. He's back now. There's gray in his beard and his belly is a bit larger than it was then.
But is this going to be a good hire by Tony Sparano?
[Please be sure to catch my radio show, Armando and the Amigo, this morning and every weekday morning 6-10 a.m. on 640-AM in South Florida and 640sports.com on the web.]