Forget putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg, the Miami Dolphins are now trying to put that tiny little adhesive bandage on a raging house fire.
Just hours after their latest embarrassing loss, a 38-20 rout at the hands of the shorn Ryan Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets, the Dolphins parted ways with offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, blaming the former Chip Kelly acolyte for the troubling regression of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is fresh off a six-year, $96 million contract extension in the offseason.
Lazor’s pink slip came just seven weeks after Miami bid adieu to his former boss, Joe Philbin, and his Doppelganger on the defensive side of the ball, ex-defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.
It’s now abundantly clear the Dolphins are clearing the decks for 2016 and interim head coach Dan Campbell sees the writing on the wall.
“There’s nothing I can say that’s going to make that look better,” Campbell said after the loss to the Jets. “We got whipped. We got whipped the first time and we got whipped the second time. Those are the facts.”
For now Lazor serves as the latest sacrificial lamb for perhaps the NFL’s biggest underachiever with the spin designed on saving the perceived franchise quarterback in Tannehill.
Lazor was Kelly’s quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia before defensive coaches around the NFL figured out Kelly’s scheme and that made Lazor a hot commodity because the Eagles offense was a top-five unit perceived to be on the cutting edge.
Philbin brought in Lazor to implement Kelly’s vision in South Florida minus the constant focus on tempo, something akin to buying a new car without the engine.
After all, now that defensive coordinators around the league have removed the emperor’s clothes in Philly, it’s evident that the Eagles coach is a one-trick pony and pace is S-8 on his play card.
When Kelly was riding high, his offense was often described as “quarterback proof,” meaning he could succeed with any signal caller, be they Joe Montana or Nick Foles.
The real description should be “dumbed down,” however, because the last thing Kelly wants, and by extension Lazor, is a quarterback who thinks for himself.
It’s one-read and go in order to get to the next play in Kelly’s scheme and the leader has no ability to audible out of a bad play and into a good one, making QBs like Montana, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning ill-suited for the scheme.
And when you have no desire to take advantage of the smartest guy on the field, well it’s time to look in the mirror.
The Dolphins often rave about Tannehill’s football IQ, but Lazor limited his ability to change things at the line of scrimmage. And if “limited” is indeed the right adjective to describe what was going on, Lazor proved to be a lot more malleable than his teacher in Philadelphia, who does not allow it.
“It’s mind-blowing, it’s frustrating, it’s disappointing,” Tannehill said after losing to the Jets. “It’s tough to find enough words to describe it. I think it’s hard. It’s hard to see and take a realistic look of where we’re at and see why we’re here. It’s hard.”
It’s only going to get harder from here for Tannehill because the training wheels must come off.
Simplifying things at every other position in the NFL can work wonders, but not at quarterback. And the feeling in Miami now is that Lazor’s modified Kelly-light scheme was the reason Tannehill’s game was atrophying.
The rest of 2015 will be a mulligan for the former Texas A&M stalwart with his quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor trying to undo some of the damage.
Next year it’s sink or swim, hopefully with the right coaching staff.
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.
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