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Take it from Captain Negative: Miami Dolphins offense is going to need time, patience to build

So here's some breaking news: The Dolphins offense is slow right now.

Ryan Tannehill is holding the ball longer in the pocket than he probably should. Plays aren't busting loose as quickly as they should. Receivers aren't getting open as quickly as they should. The offensive line isn't coming together as quickly as it should. The tight ends aren't beating mismatches as quickly as they should -- or at all sometimes. The red zone offense is not efficient. The blitz pickups are poor. Nothing is really, truly synched up like it should be, at super fast NFL speed.

You know what that means?

The Dolphins' offense is probably right on schedule.

Look, Adam Gase and his coaching staff are installing a new offense. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is learning this thing. Sure, they had a good dose of it in the offseason. And yes, there is a lot of classroom work being done.

But the truth of the matter is most of these players are simply thinking their way through practice and obviously through the game last week in New York. And that process by which a player is going through his mental notes to make sure he's got his assignment, is thinking about his options depending on what the defense offers, and is thinking about the new techniques the coaching staff is teaching, all takes time.

And taking time in the NFL is begging for problems.

The team that plays fast, even as it makes some mistakes, is usually playing better than the team that is even one blink of an eye slower. And make no mistake, the relative slowness of this offense right now is pretty obvious to even inexpert eyes.

Tannehill is taking an extra beat in the pocket. I told you as much in a post on Aug. 9. (Yeah, the reason you read this space is to get inside stuff first, not a step slow). And today, offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen only confirmed what I told you last week when he was asked whether Tannehill is getting the ball out quickly enough.

"No," Christensen said. "I don’t think anything is as quick as we want. Nothing – not the protection, the run game, the pass game, the routes. Nothing is as quick as we want. But again, that’s what has to all speed up. It has to speed up if we’re going to get where we want to go. Especially (with) the up-tempo and some of those things, it all has to become second nature. Again, I hope in these next two weeks, we’ll start seeing some results of everything."

Yeah ... no.

Dolphins coaches are kidding themselves if they think that within the next two weeks -- timed as if by magic for the start of the regular season -- everything will suddenly begin to click with a quickness because they need it to so as to play at Seattle. Sorry. Not the way it works.

It is my experience that when teams are installing a new offense, it typically takes half a season to get into a groove. So I'm thinking late October when this offense will start hitting a stride -- if that's what it is going to do at all.

Why do I sound like, as one Dolphins coach called me this week, "Captain Negative?"

Because this ain't my first rodeo. I've seen things. And I've seen all this before. I've been through ten trillion new Dolphins head coaches and offensive coordinators. And it takes a while to get everyone locked in, particularly on offense.

It takes time to get 11 men together. On time.

It takes time for guys to know. And to know that they know -- as Bill Parcells would tell me.

It takes time for guys to play on instincts rather than via a thought process.

It will not happen in the next two weeks.

And here's the thing: It might take the Dolphins longer than most to get this thing to work.


Because they're asking a rookie who never played guard in college to go from tackle to guard. So the transition to the NFL is new. The offense is new. The techniques are new. And the position is new. That's a lot of new the Dolphins are heaping on Laremy Tunsil.

Arian Foster is new to this offense. And while he can get by on his vast experience in the Texans zone blocking, one-cut and go attack, the Dolphins do more than just that. And Foster missed all of the offseason. He's been in this offense all of one month.

The most veteran offensive lineman on this team is Jermon Bushrod. This is his tenth season in the NFL. And so he's seen it all, right?

Wrong, because he's seen it all from the left side of an offensive line. He's on the right side now. And as he told me for my column today that is almost foreign to him. Still. So veteran or not, Bushrod cannot simply lap the competition in winning a job because he's still figuring out left foot or right foot first, and thinking about it before he takes that step.

Kenny Stills? He's in his third offense in three years. He didn't adapt quickly enough and perform to his expectations last year. And then what happened? The Dolphins hired a new staff and now he's learning a new offense. Again.

DeVante Parker? He missed much of last year's training camp. He wasn't a factor in that offense until late in the season. So the Dolphins change systems and he misses part of this offseason because of a hamstring injury. He missed some time the past two weeks of training camp with a hamstring injury. He missed the preseason opener. He's a second-year player. The team is trying to make sure he does life skills things like gets a good breakfast every morning and hydrates. And so figuring out the ins and out of becoming a great NFL wide receiver is atop all those fundamental things he should already know. Yeah, it is going to take him a minute.

Tannehill? He won the starting job as a rookie and that showed great ability to learn quickly, right? Except you may forget Tannehill actually had been in that 2012 Dolphins offense for several years at Texas A&M. So he knew what he was doing better than most veterans back in '12. This offense, meanwhile, is his third in five years. So, yes, he's thinking.

Everybody is thinking, my friends!

“I put it into (the category of) the early camps when we were installing (in Indianapolis) when (Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Chuck) Pagano came in and all of a sudden that first year you’re putting in (former Colts Offensive Coordinator Bruce) Arians’ offense," Christensen said. "It’s similar to the times when you just started. It was a dream world when all of a sudden you had all of those veteran guys and you’re in your 10th year together. The first day of training camp, you’re picking up blitzes and throwing hots and running double moves and all of that stuff. But those guys had been together for 10 years, and that wouldn’t be fair to compare the two right now. We had been through it. We were through it those early years in Indy. We were through it again with Pagano and we were through it again when Coach Arians went on to Arizona, and we had to put in a new offense. It’s not easy.

"This league is fine tuned. All of a sudden, you do something new and it takes a while to fine-tune this thing up. It’s just kind of gross movements initially and then by opening day they’ve got to be more fine movements and fine tuning."

That is the hope, that is the plan.

I see a different reality.

As Captain Negative I see an extremely young Dolphins offense going to Seattle, which is a terrible place for visiting offenses, and against a loud crowd and veteran defense, on the road, guys who are still new to this team and this system are going to have everything come naturally?

That is quite an uphill slog of a request.

Captain Negative doesn't see how it can all come together so quickly.

Oh, there's another thing. The Seahawks, a veteran team, have established their culture. The New England Patriots, a veteran team and the opponent in Week 2, have established their culture. The Cincinnati Bengals, another veteran team and the opponent in Week 4, have established their culture.

All those teams will be at home.

Have the Dolphins established their culture? Do they even know themselves who they are?


Will they be at home for those games so the crowd can be quiet when they have the ball, allowing players a good environment in which to think and figure things out?


But it's all going to fly straight and fast as if this offense has been together for five years?

Captain Negative says no.

This is what I see: I see the 1981 Washington Redskins.

That team was a franchise with a great history and storied tradition. It was awesome. But they had fallen on hard times when they hired this hot shot offensive coordinator who was a Don Coryell disciple. His name is Joe Gibbs.

Gibbs installed an innovative offense that summer of 1981. And early in the fall that offense stunk. Terrible.

The Redskins started 0-5.

But you know what? The thing eventually started to click. Suddenly the counter-trey became a thing. Suddenly the Fun Bunch started enjoying their more frequent trips to the end zone. Suddenly John Riggins got rolling behind a massive offensive line. Gibbs, calling the plays, hit a groove.

And the Redskins were 8-3 over the final 11 games to salvage an 8-8 season.

The next few years that offense was dominant.

I'm not saying that is exactly what will happen to Adam Gase and this Dolphins offense. I'm just saying even an offense with the potential to be record-setting, as the Redskins of yesteryear were, starts slow and needs time to build.

That's where I see this Dolphins offense now.