With Tony Sparano now under contract through the 2013 season and the player personnel phase of the offseason still being several weeks away, the most pressing need in Dolphin land nowadays is the hunt for an offensive coordinator. Because the Dolphins are young and promising on the defensive side of the ball, expect this to be the first of many posts focused squarely on improving the Dolphins’ anemic offense.
A new coordinator calling the shots certainly doesn’t guarantee that the offense will even come close to turning the corner, but any change will be embraced as refreshing after the Dan Henning debacle we were all forced to witness this season. Sure, it’s hard to point the finger exclusively at Henning, especially considering some of the dumbfounding decisions Chad Henne made in his second season as the starter and the fact that the front office blew up the interior offensive line from a year ago, which in turn forced Henning to abandon a non-existent running game more often than not.
So a new face up in the booth certainly isn’t going to upgrade the Dolphins’ offense to respectability overnight. After all, great players are usually the ones who tend to make offensive coordinators look like geniuses. Something the Dolphins have very few of on the offensive side of the football.
Fans were quick to praise Dan Henning when the Chad Pennington led Dolphins took the AFC East in 2008. Did Henning have a fine season calling the shots? Sure he did. But it wouldn’t have happened without the stability Pennington brought to the position week in and week out. Having said all of that, I’m as ecstatic as the next guy that Dan Henning walked away following the disastrous year that is still fresh in all of our minds.
The fact of the matter is, while Pennington made Henning look smart in 08’, he was also the perfect fit for the style of offense Henning likes to run. A ball-control, low-risk style of play was just what those 08’ Dolphins needed and it fit Pennington’s mistake-free way’s like a glove. When you play that style of football, though, your margin for error isn’t much.
The Dolphins weren’t a very talented team back when Henning first took over and that style of play was the ideal fit because it kept them in most games. They would compete with playoff caliber tams but also come right down to the wire with some of the league’s bottom feeders. That’s great when all the bounces go your way. But in 2010, when it seemed like the Dolphins just couldn’t get a break, that small margin for error ultimately doomed their season.
Now, Stephen Ross is calling for an offensive coordinator who is going to come in with an aggressive mindset. Not a guy who is going to play not to lose, but a guy who wants to score early and often. A lot easier said than done for a Dolphins’ offense without a franchise quarterback, a decent interior offensive line, or a promising young running back. But the first step in righting the ship is finding a play-caller, so that’s where we begin.