When the Miami Dolphins selected Joe Philbin to be their next head coach, they brought him to Miami knowing what he could bring to them….an exciting offense. Philbin and Mike McCarthy worked together in Green Bay and ran a version of the much talked about West Coast Offense. Philbin said in his press conference that he wouldn’t simply bring his playbook from Green Bay and slap a Dolphins logo on it. Philbin realizes that he must design an offensive system that fits the players on the Dolphins, in order to be successful.
To understand exactly what type of offense Philbin will bring to the Dolphins, it’s best to look at the origins of the ‘West Coast Offense”. Do you know who coined the term West Coast Offense? Ironically, it was none other than the mastermind himself, Bill Parcels. After Parcells’ Giants beat the 49ers in 1985, he said “What do you think of that West Coast Offense now?”. He was, of course, referring to Bill Walsh’s 49er offense. The primary theory behind the West Coast Offense is that you spread out the defense and rely on short, horizontal passing routes to ‘open up’ the defense. You essentially set up the run by passing the ball. The Dolphins, in recent years, have done quite the opposite….running the ball to open up play action passes and luring safeties into the box.
This may be a philosophical change for the Dolphins, but if they can find the right QB, it will work with their personnel. The West Coast Offense relies on short drops by the QB, 3 and 5 step drops. Word out of the Dolphins (off the record of course) is that they are setting up to make a run at a new QB. Peyton Manning is first on their list, followed in some order by Matt Flynn and trading up for RG3. Having an accurate QB that makes the proper reads and decisions, is vital to a West Coast attack.
This offense relies on wide receivers running quick, precise routes. The receivers do not necessarily have to be speed demons (Clyde Gates), but must run their routes correctly every time. The offense is predicated on rhythm and timing, so practice will make perfect. Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, and Brandon Marshall should be able to adapt to the offense well.
The West Coast Offense relies on offensive lineman holding their blocks for a shorter period of time, while opening up passing lanes for the QB. With Jake Long and Mike Pouncey the only sure things on the line, expect the Dolphins to look to free agency and the draft to rebuild that unit. In addition, it also helps if you have 1-2 running backs that have good hands and can pass block, when necessary. Good route running tight ends can also be a weapon in this offense. Look at how productive Jermichael Finley has been with the Packers. It all amounts to a pretty exciting brand of football, even though it might be a little different than we’re used to. The key, will be to identify the quarterback that can run the offense properly.
As we mentioned before, Philbin will look to bring in people for his staff that he is familiar with. If Mike Sherman does not get the Tampa Bay Bucs job, I’d pretty much guarantee that he will be the Dolphins Offensive Coordinator. Sherman was Philbin’s high school teacher and brought him to the Packers when he was the head coach. If not Sherman, Tom Clements (Packers QB Coach) is a possibility. However, word out of Green Bay is that he is a prime candidate to take over as offensive coordinator in Green Bay.