Bill Lazor’s job description with the Dolphins – offensive coordinator – doesn’t go far enough.
He doesn’t need to simply coordinate the offense; he needs to fix it.
The Dolphins ranked near the bottom of the NFL in total offense last season, and hired Lazor, who had been the quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles for a whole year, to do something about it. It is possible Lazor was the reason quarterback Nick Foles progressed from project to star, but it is also possible Lazor was just an assistant who benefited greatly from the offensive creativity and genius of head coach Chip Kelly.
Now, Lazor is assigned the task of making Miami respectable, if not dangerous, when it has the football. He’ll call the plays.
The initial review from Friday night’s preseason-opening 16-10 loss at Atlanta was favorable simply because the Dolphins popped a 10-play, 73-yard, five-minute touchdown drive on the only possession during which Ryan Tannehill played.
Tannehill completed all six of his throws for 62 yards and the score.
Nice stuff, that.
Well done, and congrats.
But the most impressive thing Lazor did Sunday after practice when the subject of Tannehill’s effectiveness came up was slow down the hype (short, in this case, for hyperventilation) machine.
“I thought he had 10 good plays,” Lazor said.
It was only a tiny piece of the pie chart, in other words. No need to get carried away.
Oh, sure, Lazor was pleased with Tannehill, but wasn’t effusive in praise.
“He showed command,” Lazor said. “He was very decisive. He has a good grasp of what we want to do. The ball came out of his hand on time.”
He covered the basics.
But the 42-year-old Lazor mostly spent Friday night taking inventory. He hasn’t decided if he’ll be a sideline or an upstairs coach, for example, but chose to be on the ground against the Falcons to study best what needed studying.
Tannehill, that is, and not just in on-field action.
“I liked the attitude,” Lazor said. “I wanted to look in their eyes and see what the leadership was like and what the poise was like. I got a lot of questions answered. I liked a lot of what I saw. We’re not quite done. There’s no, ‘I got it.’ Never.
“From the way the team responded to him, he was getting the job done.”
The coach-player connection between Lazor and Tannehill remains in its formative stage, of course. But it figures to be an important season for Tannehill, who’ll be in his third year as a pro and has been the starter since the outset of his career. He has to make a big jump in showing he was worth Miami’s stretch to use the eighth overall pick to get him.
There will be no coddling.
“My job right now is to push him,” Lazor said. “I’ve got to make it very hard for him out there on the practice field. I heard a rumor that someone reported that we’re making it hard on him. It’s on purpose. It’s how you build a quarterback.”
And building a quarterback is the cornerstone of building an offense.
Lazor is demonstrating a nice touch, so far. He seems not the least bit overwhelmed by the job, and looks comfortable having moved up the chain of command. He understands there is significant pressure on Tannehill to continue to improve, and on him to provide his quarterback a program that can best facilitate the process.
Can the coordinator do the fixing necessary for Tannehill to make the best use of his talent and for the running game to be of consequence and for the line to shed its weak-like reputation?
Lazor, like Tannehill, had 10 good plays.
If it turns out to be the modest start of something worthwhile, well, Lazor could live with that.