The Sports Xchange

Dolphins banking on tempo translating to points

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor wants his offense to play fast.

"I'm trying to get them out of the huddle faster," Lazor said. "And sometimes it's uncomfortable. Sometimes it's uncomfortable for the line to make the calls that quickly. The quarterback might want them to settle in and to make the calls.

"We don't want it. We want to go. Every single day it's a push. They know it, they understand it. They also understand it's hard, and they're trying. I'll keep pushing."

Lazor is charged with improving an offense that averaged 19.8 points per game last season, which ranked 26th in the NFL.

For years Dolphins fans have heard their team was going to play a faster, more exciting brand of football. Former coach Tony Sparano preached it, and so did coach Joe Philbin during his first two years. But it never happened, and Philbin knows the reason.

"Part of it I think is you have to get some first downs to generate (tempo)," Philbin said. "That certainly helps the tempo. I mean if you throw an incomplete pass or you're third-and-long, you get sacked, it's tough to generate the tempo that you're looking to create.

"So I think part of it has been a function that we haven't been super productive on offense. And let's get that out on the table. That's a fact."

So far the Dolphins' offense has been so-so at consistently getting first downs to keep the tempo high.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been efficient at short and intermediate passes so far in training camp, but his deep passes have been inconsistent, which was the case last season.

Lazor, Philadelphia's quarterbacks coach last season, brings an offense marked by pre-snap motion designed to get players in one-on-one situations with defenders. But more than anything they have to play fast.

"I think the No. 1 thing we want to do is play with great tempo," Lazor said. "There are a lot of different definitions of that....At the snap of the ball we want to be fast, that's including our offensive linemen coming off the ball in the run game. Part of it is knowing what to do and being decisive. In this league you've got to play fast and be physical."

Whether the Dolphins can satisfy Lazor depends largely on the offensive line, which will open the season with five new starters, and Tannehill. But Lazor made one thing clear: the personality of this offense is going to be defined by the players, not a scheme.

"It's got to come from the players," Lazor said of his offense's personality. "I'm going to stand up in front of the group, they're going to hear my voice on the practice field....

"At the end of the day I'm going to try to guide them and direct them, but it's up to them and they've got to take it and go with it. It's got to be their team. We can do our best as coaches to push them. The answer will be easier once we start going and we see the guys step up."

--Wide receiver Rishard Matthews replaced Mike Wallace (hamstring) in the starting lineup Wednesday. Matthews, the third-year undrafted player from Nevada, has been having a solid camp and blended well with fellow starting wide receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. Add in rookie wide receiver Jarvis Landry and arguably the Dolphins' best unit looks really strong.

--Coach Joe Philbin, whose team was dogged by a bullying scandal last season, said he has grown as a coach from a year ago.

"I think I have a better rapport, chemistry, with the players on the ball club," he said. "I've spent more time communicating with them in a one-on-one manner and in team meetings. I've been doing the bed check every single night at the hotel and just knocking on their doors and making sure that they're OK, busting their chops a little bit if they're awake."