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Up-tempo is great when quarterback and execution are great

Some of the buzz around the start of Dolphins training camp practices has been about speed and tempo.

The Dolphins are practicing in multiple groups -- first-team offense versus first-team defense on one side of the 50-yard line and second-team O versus second-team D on the other side -- both at the same time.

It is a system that turns what would typically be an 80-play practice into a 140- to 160-play practice.

That's awesome!

But as the Dolphins practice fast and rarely even huddle, the tempo is also intended to carry over to games. That's because the Dolphins want to play an up-tempo, snap a lot of plays, fast-working offense this season.

“It’s a spread open, fast paced, up tempo offense," running back Reggie Bush said. "We run a lot of zone schemes, which, for a running back like me, is great. I’ve always loved the zone running scheme. It does wonders for running backs."

"Part of this whole thing is, while we want to be an up tempo offense, we do want to run a lot of plays at the opposition," coach Joe Philbin said. "We feel like the more plays run, the better opportunity you have to score points. But there’s also a couple of other residual benefits – I mean the conditioning aspect is I think a big advantage for our whole entire football team, offense and defense."

All that has the potential for very good things.

The New England Patriots run a similar attack. So did the Colts when Peyton Manning was the quarterback. Other teams go into this mode when they fall behind as well.

It's fast-break football ...

When it works.

What I mean is working fast on offense is a great weapon against an opposing defense because it doesn't let them catch their breath, it creates mismatches, and creates uncertainty and mistakes by them.

But it does all those things only when the quarterback play is at a very high level and the execution of everyone else on offense is crisp.

When the QB isn't quite so good or the execution of the offensive players isn't nearly perfect, this idea of running a lot of plays fast is a disaster.

It basically translates to having the offense rushing to get off the field. And that exposes Miami's defense.

Think about that.

When a fast-paced offense is performing as intended, it is moving the chains and doing it quickly and the defensive guys are on the bench watching. That's good.

But if the team running the up-tempo attack has three quick incomplete passes, its defense that was just on the field has to go right back out again. And the other team that just had a chance to score is going to get yet another chance almost immediately.

In that case, up-tempo offense turns into a rush to give up the football.

It is a two-edged sword.

Up-tempo is great when Tom Brady is at quarterback. But I wonder how things will be with David Garrard or Matt Moore or rookie Ryan Tannehill pulling the trigger. Philbin's offense places a lot of pressure on the QB as it is. They are responsible for making a lot of changes and making a lot of calls at the line of scrimmage -- moreso than more convential units that huddle up.

But it also asks the quarterback to be spectacular in completing a very high percentage of his passes to keep his unit on the field and protect his defensive teammates.

The approach also is demanding of other offensive players.

Suddenly a sack allowed by an offensive lineman is a bigger problem than usual because the team finds itself in bad down-and-distance situations while rushing into those situations.

Receivers similarly have to be precise with their routes.

One of the reasons Chad Johnson didn't get a lot of playing time last year reportedly was because he didn't know his assignments precisely. Like his days in Cincinnati, he'd stretch a 15-yard pattern to 17 yards and it would drive Brady nuts because the precision was lost.

And as the up-tempo attack cannot afford incompletions, Johnson didn't see the field a ton and only caught 15 passes on the year.

So now in Miami's up-tempo offense Johnson's going to be precise? He'll have to be to make things work for his quarterbacks. Everyone will have to be to keep moving the sticks and keep the offense on the field to avoid exposing the defense to more snaps.

By the way, this idea of a fast-paced offense isn't new in Miami.

Last year, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll tried it some in camp and Miami opened with it against New England.

The result was that Miami threw for 419 yards and rushed for another 98 yards in scoring 24 points. That, by any measure, is very good offensive production. But the offense sputtered just enough to give the ball back to the Patriots more times than what they held it.

And so while the Dolphins gained 488 yards, New England put up 622. While Miami scored 24, New England scored 38.

Miami's offensive players couldn't execute at the same rate as New England's. Miami also couldn't make big enough plays to maximize its time of possession.

The point is that, as with everything else, the idea of running an up-tempo offense sounds wonderful and definitely is when players are executing and the quarterback is playing at a high level. But one reason more teams don't do this is because they don't have a Brady or Manning running the attack and they don't want to expose their defense.

This year the Dolphins will try to run this attack with neither Brady nor Manning at quarterback. It'll be interesting to see how well that works for both the offense and defense. 


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Mando, same can be said for Sparano's "careful" offense. Sure, they held the ball for 45 minutes against the Colts, but when the Colts only need 45 seconds to score, they were able to win the game. Plus, how many 3 and outs did we see from Sparano's offenses. ALL THE TIME! Used to make me nuts. I prefer this offense because at least it gives players a lot of chances to connect and make plays. And if the defense is playing more aggressively (unlike Nolan's defense at the beginning of last year that seemed to be trying to protect the offense by being more careful) then hopefully you don't let teams score 38 points.

You're right, there are positives and negatives to this offensive philosophy. But this year is about getting the scheme down. And the future will be about putting the right people in the positions to make that machine work perfectly.

Good Point DC.

We have the quickness and speed at RB and WR to perform, it comes down to the QB being accurate enough. That's where Tannehill can shine....next season

Glad to hear today that Tannehill is starting strong in camp

The WR's are the worst in the league. The only thing D's need to stop is Reggie Bush to shut down the offense.

Gotta love the media, damn if you do, damn if you don't.

Good morning guys,

I like the idea of an up tempo offense. I also like the West Coast offense. I am a fan of smash mouth football more then finesse offenses but I have to admit the finesse offenses is what the NFL is about with Pats, Saints, Eagles and even former bruising teams like Steelers and Giants. The change was neccessary. I hope they are better conditioned then last seasons disasterous opener when every DB was gasping as Brady shredded them.

My early years as a Fins fan was all Marino all the time and anything but smash mouth so I am willing to adapt for the sake of a winner. I also remember my early Dolphins years as Miami being a time when teams hated playing in the sweltering heat but thanks to a business first, win second owner the only home field advantage Miami ever had is gone. Just sayin.

DC you are correct, better to be up tempo then to run that 1970's offense that Sparano loved. I can not wait until they start hating him in NY because of all the FG's that his offense produces. If you want to win in Fantasy football always take Sparano's kicker. LOL.

If you teach an up tempo offense and get players to run it, even if they do not have them all this year, then at least the team will learn and get better with that offense and eventualy it will be productive and maybe Tannehill will look like Brady some day (not drinking the kool aid yet though).

Hey Andy, good to talk again. I totally agree on the conditioning aspect, I think that will be huge. Not only will the defense be ready for up-tempo offenses, but when they play in the Miami heat, they'll have a leg up having conditioned up-tempo in THAT environment. That SHOULD set them apart during home games early in the year.

Hey Mando,

Nice article. I totally agree. The one thing no is mentioning is that Tanny has wheels!! This guy can outrun LB's and safeties. Having a mobile QB the way Aaron Rodgers is will be huge. Rodgers sustained so many drives with his feet last season.

Another dimmention!!

Mike @11:00 am,

Seems like it thats for sure. I'm hoping and it's a BIG HOPE that Miami finds their Victor Cruz type. Not saying they will find someone to match his production or ability because that's not something that comes around too often but a legit starting threat at WR who is young and up and coming is what I hope for.

I know I have no reason to believe or not believe in this coaching staff but I choose to believe Philbin is cut in the Green Bay cloth of developing and cultivating talent. I know that's not what Sparano was capable of. Sparano was from the cloth that we line up our guys because we are more fundamental and the toughest SOBs out here. Well that style doesn't cut it anymore. I believe Philbin will find a diamond in the rough and somewhere in the season that player will be a consistent threat and play maker.

The candidates are underwhelming to say the least but so was guys like Victor Cruz, Donald Driver, Rod Smith (broncos), etc before they became household names to a degree.

My favorite of the bunch to succeed is Roberto Wallace. I just keep reading good things from him about his size/speed combination and think he is a good fit for a run after the catch/West Coast offense. Sure enough he might not make the team but if not him someone will realize their potential through Philbin and his staff.

Uptempo will be great when you have 3 Stiffs at Quarterback and no Wide Receivers.

It will make the 3 points on the scoreboard look a lot more exciting.


Likewise bro. Yeah I remember teams melting late in games in my version of the good old days 88-96, 97 when Miami was a legitimate team year in and out. But those days seem so long ago. Miami consistently slow starts and lack of conditioning early in the season makes it seem even longer ago.

I remember guys have no legs Nolan Carrol just being targeted by Brady for like 2 straight drives in last seasons opener. It was embarrassing to watch. I know the lockout caused many guys to come in fat Dansby, Clam Crowder (probably why he was cut), even B. Marshall came in above his normal weight. This new up tempo, more reps practice hopefully pays off in Miami being the better conditioned team at some point. And hopefully Miami will reap the benefits of some big plays with guys burning out.

What's your prediction? I'm a realist I go 7-9

I think it fair to say that this years version of the fast paced offense will be a little better prepared than last. Mando brought up some solid points to consider; I alos believe our D was gassed by half time which led the blow out against the Patsies and part of the reason for the 0-7 start! One thing is certain; we will be in shape on both sides come September. Though unproven and NFL-tested, this coaching staff are well organized and will have the team mentally and physically prepared. Execution, skill, and a little luck will determine our fate. I feel like a little kid waiting for Christmas.

top 10 pix = day 1 starter. . .

Philbin Clipboard,

I agree with you on that. Tannehill can run and that adds another dimension on the field. He doesn't have to always force throws because if he sees a lane on 3rd down he has the speed to beat guys with his legs too. I think Tannehill eventually gets a start at some point. I think it comes late around December when there is no pressure to win because Miami will be around 5-8. I'm not being negative just being honest that this team is a rebuilding team with a whole new system and the new system needs the players in it to succeed. Too many left over parts from Parcells/Sparano of big, strong and slow to do what Philbin wants in year 1.

DC & Andy I agree with your both your points. In addition, the TE's will be HUGE for this style of offense. My biggest concern though is still the right side of our o-line.

I would have a lot more confidence if we had landed Jeff Fisher. Doubtful that Philbin is any better then Cameron or Sparano.

Well, what we've been doing the last few years hasn't worked real well. So, maybe the ground-and-pound has its place in certain situations and against certain teams. But, so does the air-it-out offense. Philbin doesn't consider his to be a pure West Coast style offense but more diverse. The difference may be in the play calling and game planning.

I'm not going all DOOM-N-GLOOM like the media (and Mando) quite yet on this team. We won't know until about week 4 or 5 whether we're going to be any good or not this year. I've got to see Philbin in games to really know what kind of coach he is. Same for the players on the field. But, to say we suck without having played the first snap is just plain stupid! Stop drinking the mainstream media kool-aid! They're almost never right. Dolphins great, we go 1-15. Miami's bad, we're 11-5. May be getting over the hump, we hover at .500. Now, they've decide that we suck....and Mando's taking the bait! Hope you get to eat crow this year along with all the other naysayers.

they haven't ate crow since '95. they r all starving.

As long as Ireland is the GM the team will continue to stink.

duh dave.
saban sux.
cam can't.
the scum trio.spaz.ire and fatcells.
j phil.????
should have kept bates.lol

Andy, DC, happy new (football) year!!

I'm excited about this fresh start. For one, there was a new philosophy in the draft that tarrgeted players that should have the skill set to succeed in today's NFL.

And we finally invest in a QB!! Hope this guy pans out because I can't afford to wait for another 40 years before we get another.

Andy, like yourself, I believe that once the QB play improves, then someone will stand out amongst the receivers. I believe that system and QB play makes the receiver. I mean, if you want to look at the ebst WRs in the NFl today, most have a prolific passer. I think you can count on one hand the number of WRs that a Pro Bowl worthy despite having lacklustre QB play. Unfortunately we just traded one away although I never was a huge fan of his anyway.

\_..2012,see the trend yet.?.lol

there is no fixing sux.


It kills me to see New England have both Gronk and Hernandez when we could of had at least one of them but went Misi and John Jerry and both are suspect NFL talents. Not to mention Jimmy Graham went after Jerry too in round 3.

Well out with the old and in with the new in Miami. They added some legit playmakers except at WR of course. But you can't get everything in one offseason or one draft particularly when its apples and oranges philosophies with Philbin and Sparano.

I hope Engnew is the vertical TE Miami needs. He won't be Gronk or Graham but I will take a Brent Celek type. I also am a big fan of Charles Clay. Sparano never used him enough. He's a versatile player that can line up in a number of spots. Then there's also Fasano who is limited but is smart and finds a way to get open in zones. The TE group looks promising.

As far as right side of the line there will be some bumps along the way but I think Martin will settle in just in time to stabilize things for whenever Tannehill becomes the future and the present. As far as RG anyone's guess but Steinback is who I'd put money on as the starter and should be solid enough to not be a problem.

Ross is arguably the worst owner, Ireland is the worst GM, and Philbin is an unknown unproven rookie HC. So the chances for success are very very slim. The team is also seriously lacking any talent at WR and to a lesser extent at QB. I cant see this group winning more then 5-6 games despite the easy schedule. BTW, the out of division home schedule couldnt be more boring.

77, 5 wins and no barkley.

Fin 77 sounds like he needs a hug.......or the phins to win some games soon

This is about as close to a non article as you can possibly get....

Armando..save your analysis and opinions for week day stories during the football season....

For now...JUST give us camp updates and facts....both should be easy to come by this time of year....

I I have heard the last ten years is offense, offense, offense from the Miami media. Now that we are finally evolving from the stone-age NFL to the 2012 NFL, the media still questions what we are doing. Thanks for stating the obvious Salguero, you must think we are all stupid on this blog. How many times in the past have we held time of possession advantage in a game or grinded out a 12 play drive for a TD only to see Brady, Manning, Brees come back and score in 2 minutes. I am excited about this offense and if the fans are patient as we get pieces for it, we will all be happy in the near future. I often wonder what the Miami media would complain about if we ever went 19-0.

kris, they're off today. mando has to put sometin' up.

2 Watt, we all notice you, we just don't care. Now settle down and behave young man. No need to be acting like a 2 year old who didn't get his hug today.

mark. 2 watt has been correct about the phins since 2000.remember.?.

Got it 2 watt...I didn't know that...

Well in that case...the article makes perfect sense....

Mark Toronto,

Happy Football season to you as well. I see someone out of the big WR group Wallace, Fuller or someone else emerging as a legit talent to start. It's typical fan-hope on my part but there has to be a reason Philbin/Ireland ignored WR the way they did. I believe Philbin feels he can find a talent out of the bunch because he believes in himself that much. Just a hunch. But the Dolphins definitely added talent at several spots that excites me

QB - Tannehill is what this whole regime is riding on they ride and die together and that includes Ireland. I like his athleticism and familiarity I think by 2013 he is a full time starter and the second best QB in the AFC East to Brady of course.

RB- Lamar Miller you can't teach speed and word is he has Chris Johnson type speed. Not saying he will be CJ2K but I say he finds a way to score a minimum 3-4 TDs as a rookie. A great pick in round 4. Could be a future star.

TE - Egnew he comes from Missouri and I think Chase Coffman but unlike Coffman Egnew is an athlete and not just a good college player. Egnew ran a good 40 somewhere in 4.6 was tops in vertical leap for TE as well. I hope by 2013 he is the starter but as a rookie don't think he's strong enough but Miami's new philosophy may split him out some too so hopefully he makes some plays.

Anybody know the deal on Braylon Edwards...

are they still talking....

Damn i wish some of yall would remember when yall are trashing our phins before they hit the field, how would ya feel had we won those stupid 3pt games last sept. and oct. I know its wouldve, couldve stuff but dang we gotta build on something. If this is really your fav team how can u repeatly say we are goin to suck and these guy just got on pads???

kris, that was suppose 2 b hush hush but hbo threw that out there for the media.
j phil got pixxed.lol

But last year, at least from what I've heard, the Dolphins practiced slow. You can't practice slow and then

gotta luv these posted by's.

aloco,is that u?

thanks 2 watt....

here kris.
Adam Schefter‏@AdamSchefter

Braylon Edwards is going to sign a. 1 year deal with Seattle.


10 and 6 for the season. Flame me now, cause by the end of the season you'll all be fin fans again.

I also predict the Jets to have a serious meltdown this year, can't wait to see it.

Texans (L)
Raiders [W]
Jets [W]
Cardinals [W]
Bengals (L)
Rams [W]

Bye (3-2 @ bye)

Jets (L)
Colts [W]
Titans [W]
Bills [W]
Seahawks [W]
Patriots (L)
49ers (L)
Jaguars [W]
Bills [W]
Patriots (L)

Uhm -- the New England game was lost by the defense. We scored and moved the ball with ease. Despite Marshall dropping two balls in the end zone we should have still won that game with even DECENT play by our defense. Remember? New England stops us on their 1 -- they get the ball back and go 99 yards the next play. That had nothing to do with up tempo offense. Our defense was rested after a long drive and they gave a up a big score the very next play. Our defense blew more games over the past 3 years than what anybody remembers. But because we are so CONVINCED by stats we go blind to looking at what really happened.

Who cares about Edwards...The Dolphins should try and get Mike Wallace...Offer the Steelers a 3rd rounder...Miami has 2 of them next year...I understand signing him to a long term contract is a bit difficult but he's worth it...Nothing against Bess, Hartline, Wallace or Johnson but none of those guys are in the same league as Wallace...

Montreal, What scares me about giving up that much for Wallace or any other wideout is how much of his success was a result of the system he was in and that multi super bowl winningQB he had? He is a huge vertical threat in Pitt but how does that translate to Miami?? I don't have the answer but my point is that sometimes and for some reason more with WR's it seems, it's not as easy as plug and play.

Mark, I know...I agree with you...I'm tempted because we have two 3rd round picks...And let's face it, WR is a major weakness on this team until proven otherwise...And now Hartline is injured...I don't see it happening...Knowing how Ireland does business, it won't happen...

If these jokers ever go 8-8 they'll throw a parade lol

I just hope we are healthy at opening day, because we gong up against a team we havnt beaten yet...I keep reading on the negative about the team... Like for example QB WR. OL. Secondary.. Coaches. Etc etc
Can we please. Just give the coaches a chance the QB a chance who ever that might be!! The receivers. The OL.. It can't get any worst than last year! Remember we started 0-7. I just dont see us starting again like that! It's a new scheme and coaching staff!
Let's give it a chance to see what kind of team we have! The first 4 games will dictate the season if we stay healthy! LETS GO PHINS WHOOP THE JETS THE PATS THE BILLS!!!

I'm sick and tired of getting my hopes up every year and then having them crushed. Its old. The team stinks and will continue to stink for the foreseeable future.

If Braylon goes to Seattle, great!!! We don't need him. Let's give these young buck's a chance!

Everything from the draft, to the coaching staff, and training camp has been looking great and really creating a lot of optimism.

For anyone to think that this team is 5 win team is WAY OFF!


Looking at Tannehill. Throw the ball in camp for what I seen so far and read is positive!
But one thing I notice and I'm not a coach and I never can even try to be, but his release is kind of slow, he doesnt have a quick release, but what I know right! I mean I only saw Dan the Man throw the football for 17 year! Maybe is because he wasn't in pads and in game situation! But again what do I know, I'm just a dumb a s s Dolpfan!
Hahaha! I know I know I put my self down alot! It's better not to know to much and stay humble!

The Suck for Luck campaign is still going strong I see. This time being lead by Armando.

Mando, you need vacations again.

#1 Montreal, WTH are you smoking in Montreal to make you think the Steelers would part way with a Top 7 WR for a third rounder, at least a second rounder would have to be in play. Also what makes you think Irealnd wants to sign a WR a Megatron, Andre Johnson, Larry Fits type contract which Wallace is looking for.

We got exactly what we wanted at WR's a bunch of scrubs..

ray lucas

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