When I asked Reeves what he thought of the chances new Dolphins offensive coordinator Brian Daboll might be able to re-energize the Miami version of the Wildcat — the Browns got plenty of mileage out of Josh Cribbs in that set the past two years — Reeves made it clear it’s about the players, not the scheme.
“They’ve got an exciting guy running the Wildcat,” said Reeves, coaching the East team at this week’s East-West Shrine Game. “I don’t know if there’s anyone better than Ricky [Williams] or [Ronnie] Brown. They’re both studs. I did several games with them. They’re both outstanding football players. … If you’ve got those two guys as free agents, what are you going to do with those two guys?”
Reeves, who took four teams to the Super Bowl and turned 67 on Wednesday, cautioned that Daboll as a young coordinator must be careful not to try to fit square pegs into round holes. Flexibility was one of Daboll’s buzzwords this week at his formal rollout as Dan Henning’s successor.
“It’s the coach’s ability to use the talent he has,” Reeves said. “Whether it’s the Wildcat or no huddle, whatever. You can’t force a system on players. You’ve got to have the abilty to use what the players do best. I think that’s what he did. He took what he had in Cleveland and said, ‘This is what’s best for us.’ Everybody’s situation is different. You had a young quarterback [in Colt McCoy] this year most of the time, a rookie quarterback. So you got to do things different.”
Reeves, an NFL analyst for Sirius Radio, added he has never had the chance to sit down and talk with Daboll, currently the league’s second-youngest playcaller for the second straight year. Josh McDaniels, recently hired as the Rams’ offensive coordinator, is 34 and almost exactly a year younger than Daboll, 35.
McDaniels and Daboll are tight, by the way, from their championship-winning days on the Patriots staff.
Seattle recently fired Jeremy Bates, who was the league’s youngest OC last year at 34.
“I don’t know him,” Reeves said of Daboll. “I know the name. He’ll have to really utilize what he’s got. In watching the Dolphins, they’ve got some good talent. It’s always the quarterback position that is the key. That’s going to be again the key for them.”
That, and what to do with the rest of the offensive backfield.
As for putting in a new system during an offseason of labor uncertainty, Reeves agreed that could make things even tougher on Daboll.
“The lockout possibility is really difficult,” Reeves said. “But all you’ve got to do as a coach is prepare as if there isn’t going to be one. If there isn’t one, which we’re all hoping for, then you’re ready. So it’s not going to come as a surprise if there is a lockout. Then that’s a total ‘I don’t know.’ There haven’t been many of those, and nobody has any experience with it, so hopefully it won’t happen.”