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4 posts from January 15, 2014

January 15, 2014

Bill Lazor: Assistants, offense to be determined

Bill Lazor is excited. He's eager to get to work as the Dolphins new offensive coordinator. Although he has known coach Joe Philbin only casually he says, "he's a winner ... the work coach has done is lay the foundation."

Indeed Lazor says the reason he took the job with the Dolphins was "about coach Philbin himself."

"It's about people," he said today. "It's about trusting the person you're working for and working with. You want to be around people with character and who are committed in doing things the right way. I want to be around football people, which is what coach Philbin is ..."

Lazor was vague about several topics. He declined to comment whether he was indeed on his way to Detroit as was reported Tuesday by ESPN. More importantly he couldn't give specifics about what type of offense the Dolphins would run -- although it's believed it will be mostly a West Coast attack with other elements of other schemes peppered in as well.

"The clearest way to say it and it's probably disappointing is this will be the Miami Dolphins offense," Lazor said. "The one factor in how we do it, specifically how it works is the ability of the players we have. I've done a little bit of research ... but I haven't done nearly enough to be able to answer that question."

Lazor said he is not certain if he'll be able to bring coaches he's familiar with to the Dolphins.

"Coach Philbin is charge of the structure of the staff and he and I have not had all our conversations about the structure of the staff. What I do know, and I did my research, is I know we have good coaches on the staff and they have great reputations. I'm excited to get to know them and that's something that will be handled going forward."

(So Philbin and Lazor interviewed and they didn't talk about offensive assistants? The offensive line gave up a franchise record 58 sacks and the OL coach was not discussed?)

Lazor, the Eagles QB coach in 2013, did not call plays for the Eagles. He confirmed he will call the plays for the Dolphins.

Before the 2013, former offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill would be the most improved second-year quarterback in the NFL. He wasn't. The most improved second-year QB in the NFL was Nick Foles in Philadelphia.

The quarterback Lazor coached.

So what does Lazor think of Tannehill?

"I see a lot of ability. Physical ability. The ability to play the game," Lazor said. "It would be premature to say what he can do and what he can't do because I haven't been around him much. But I think there's a nucleus here in a lot of way with the staff and the talent I've seen so far to work with these players."

Tom Gamble not going to interview with the Dolphins

Four days ago the Dolphins asked and received permission to interview Philadelphia Eagles vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble. No interview was set, however.

And no interview is going to happen -- barring a stunning turn of events.

Gamble, considered among the league's best personnel men, has decided he won't interview for the Dolphins job because he is happy in his current role with the Eagles, isn't thrilled about the structure Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has outlined for his football operations, and is confident other opportunities will come along in the future.

Multiple sources familiar with Gamble's thinking say he wants the opportunity to be a general manager but wants the job when he has full power and authority over the roster and has the ability to make a decision over the head coach and other people in the organization.

The Dolphins GM will not have the power to decide the fate of head coach Joe Philbin or others within the organization. The GM, coach and others will report directly to Ross and not each other.

Gamble was apparently puzzled why the Dolphins were already searching for an offensive coordinator with no input from the GM. It should be noted the fallout between former GM Jeff Ireland and head coach Joe Philbin had its genesis in Ireland's distaste for offensive coordinator Mike Sherman's work.

The Dolphins today hired Bill Lazor of the Eagles to be the new OC.

That, by the way, is the move that leaves this quickly closing door still slightly ajar. As Gamble knows Lazor, he might be convinced to reconsider the Dolphins if certain interview accommodations are met.

But the Dolphins, I'm told, aren't likely to make such accommodations.

Gamble thus becomes the third GM candidate the Dolphins have contacted that turned down an interview, joining Baltimore's Eric DeCosta and Seattle's Scott McCloughan. The Dolphins request to interview McCloughan was turned down by the Seahawks at his request, according to an NFL source.

The request to interview Gamble will basically just fade into forgotten Dolphins history but it bears mentioning that in failing to even get in front of him, the Dolphins will not be talking to someone highly respected around the league and someone who comes with a very strong recommendation from former Bills, Panthers and Colts general manager Bill Polian. 

Gamble will be an NFL GM someday. Just not in Miami.

Bill Lazor is Dolphins new OC

The Dolphins have hired Philadelphia Eagles quarterback coach Bill Lazor, The Miami Herald has confirmed.

Lazor, 41, has been well traveled during his 10-year coaching career but the only time he has called plays for an offense was in 2010-12 when he was the offensive coordinator at the University of Virginia.

The Dolphins are getting a coach who likes to run and wants to run the West Coast offense. Lazor got his background running the offense when he served as the Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach under Mike Holmgren.

But Lazor can be something of a chameleon as well. He cut his teeth under Joe Gibbs system which was an offshoot of the Don "Air" Coryell system. That is a vertical passing attack. He also spent the last year under Chip Kelly and his fast attacking style.

Lazor has work to do. The Dolphins are tied for last in the NFL with the fewest games scoring 30 points or more the last two years. The team they're tied with? The Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Dolphins have not yet made the announcement of the hiring.

ESPN was the first to report the news. On Tuesday, ESPN reported Lazor was on his way to Detroit to become the Lions offensive coordinator. But the network is correct this time. Lazor has agreed to join the Dolphins.

Time for Dolphins OC search to make haste

Making a wise and thoughtful decision requires time. You typically don't go with the first contractor you call, you rarely marry the first girl you date and you shop around for the best deal on most things you buy. That is apparently how Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is conducting his search for an offensive coordinator.

Orderly. Methodically. Systematically.

Kind of how the Dolphins play, come to think of it.

And there's nothing wrong with that in a perfect world. But the world is not perfect. And the world is full of competition. And the Dolphins exist in that less perfect, competitive, cut-throat world.

And so what is definitely an orderly attempt to hire an offensive coordinator is now starting to look like something of a slow attempt to do so.

Consider that Miami announced the firing of offensive coordinator Mike Sherman on Jan. 6 -- which is nine days ago. The Dolphins did not conduct their first OC interviews until Jan. 10, according to the team's own accounting of events.

So even if one ignores that Sherman was a pretty much a goner after the season ended Dec. 29 and Philbin had to know, sources close to math say it took the Dolphins four days before interviewing Eagles QB coach Bill Lazor and Redskins former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

It took eight days before Green Bay quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo came to town to interview on Tuesday. And by the time McAdoo got here, he'd already reportedly interviewed with the Cleveland Browns for their head coach job and the New York Giants for their offensive coordinator job.

And, by the way, the search for an offensive coordinator took the weekend off on Saturday and Sunday. 

Now, compare that to how other coaches who are looking for coordinators are doing business.

In Tennessee, Ken Whisenhunt was hired Monday and Tuesday it was reported by ESPN that John McNulty was "pretty much hired" as the OC. So that took one day.

Whisenhunt left the San Diego OC job on Monday and on Tuesday the Chargers promoted quarterback coach Frank Reich to OC.

One day.

Detroit's Jim Caldwell apparently works even faster. He was hired by the Lions Tuesday afternoon and by Tuesday evening there were reports from ESPN that Lazor was headed to Detroit to be the OC. Lazor, obviously, cannot serve as Dolphins OC if he's the Lions OC so that's that if ESPN's reporting is correct.

In Washington, Jay Gruden was named head coach January 9 (last Thursday) and within hours there were reports Sean McVay would become the OC. Those reports were accurate as McVay signed his new contract Tuesday.

The Bengals lost Gruden as their OC and within hours Cincinnati had a new OC in Hue Jackson.

The point is coaches are working fast to fill their staffs. And teams that are losing coaches to promotions are replacing them quickly because they feel they have candidates in-house capable and ready to step up.

The Dolphins so far are not working as quickly. And Philbin so far has looked elsewhere other than considering a promotion for quarterback coach Zac Taylor to the OC job.

(By the way, if your QB coach isn't ready to take the next step to OC when the opportunity presents, why is he your QB coach?)

Now, for the sake of being fair, it can be that slow and steady wins this race. (Yawn). The most optimistic of Dolphins fans are suggesting that just as the Dolphins passing on Matt Flynn a few years ago was the right thing to do, so was the passing on McAdoo and the others that have interviewed.

Maybe. Time will tell.

But from an outsider's perspective, I feel like I'm watching Uncle Joe from Petticoat Junction -- yeah, look it up if you're too young. Like Uncle Joe, this search is moving kinda slow. It also seems to me there is one name out there that glows in neon and deserves not just consideration but a contract:

Gary Kubiak.

Kubiak, 52, was fired as the Texans head coach weeks ago and is hoping to land interest from either the Cleveland Browns or Minnesota Vikings as a head coach candidate. That hasn't happened so far.

(I use "so far" a lot in these posts because the NFL changes fast and the words here do not, so I have to let you know that this is not the Gospels.)

Anyway, Kubiak runs a West Coast offense, which is what Philbin wants to do. He's tutored great quarterbacks like Steve Young and John Elway and the Dolphins need such a tutor for Ryan Tannehill. Kubiak has won three Super Bowls as an assistant, so for a Dolphins staff that sorely needs pelts on the wall, that also makes sense. And, by the way, if you're interviewing Kyle Shanahan, why aren't you doing that with the man Mike Shanahan had as his offensive coordinator before young Kyle?

Speaking of interview, who needs an interview? I spit on interview. Call the guy. If he is open to coming and understands Philbin is the boss and he's the assistant, what the heck else does the Dolphins coach need to do, run a background search to see if he's an New York Jets spy?

Offer him the job. Hire him.

Chop-chop!