When Clyde Christensen interacts with Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins’ new offensive coordinator tries to channel Randy Newman.
Christensen’s message: You’ve got a friend in me.
“It’s a lonely position in this league,” Christensen said Thursday. “It’s lonely in the locker room, it’s lonely on the street. It’s hard to find friends. It’s kind of a unique position.
“So I always felt like the No. 1 job I have is to be an ally, to be a safe place where a guy can talk and communicate and have a relationship where you can bounce things off and generate ideas.”
If Christensen’s deeds match his words, he’s already an upgrade over the Dolphins’ previous offensive coordinator.
Bill Lazor was fired midseason, in large part, because of his dysfunctional relationship with Tannehill. The Dolphins quarterback couldn’t audible and had very little input in the game plan.
Christensen, introduced to South Florida media Thursday, seems determined not to repeat those mistakes.
“I visited with him and his wife [Lauren] when I came in for the interview and had a great breakfast with them,” Christensen said. “I’ve been extremely impressed with him. He’s been extremely productive and he’s played some awful long stretches of good football and seems to have all the things you’re looking for: a guy who wants to be good, who has it in perspective. I’m really looking forward to seeing him on the field a little bit.”
Christensen will be able to focus all his energy on jump-starting Tannehill because he won’t call plays. Adam Gase will.
But his fingerprints will be all over the Dolphins’ system, which will have elements of what the Colts and Broncos ran with Peyton Manning.
That’s the tie between Gase and Christensen, who never coached together. But both coached Manning, who is headed to his fourth Super Bowl.
And while Gase has not shed much light on what his system will look like in Miami, Christensen filled in some of the blanks Thursday.
“The attraction to this job is I really enjoyed those years in Indy where we were aggressive, we were no-huddle, the players had fun,” Christensen said. “I would say this is the way I’d like to play. We did it an awful lot of years in Indy and it’s kind of fun. There’s always something new. … It’s wide open and you spread them out and you pop some runs in there. I like this style of play.”
All three Dolphins coordinators spoke with reporters Thursday — Christensen, Vance Joseph and Darren Rizzi. Joseph will run the defense after coaching the Bengals’ defensive backs; Rizzi will again lead the Dolphins special teams.
Takeaways from their time with reporters:
▪ Joseph, who will run a 4-3 defense, said his philosophy is “built with rushers and corners. If you can rush the passer and cover outside it helps the schematics during game weeks.”
▪ Joseph wants Brent Grimes — whose play dipped in 2015 — back in Miami for a fourth season.
“I hope, because he’s been a really good player in the past and, again, having corners who can cover outside is vital to playing great defense,” Joseph said. “He’s still a corner in this league that can compete with the best receivers and that’s important for us to have.”
▪ Joseph has a plan to get more out of Ndamukong Suh, who missed the Pro Bowl for just the second time in his career.
“We can help him get some more single-block, more one-on-one opportunities because if not he’s going to get doubled every play,” Joseph said. “We’ve got some ways to do those things but I won’t share those right now.”
▪ Rizzi said he was “thrilled” to be back in Miami for an eighth season — which, in his mind, was no sure thing. Rizzi said he was under contract for another year, but “when the head coach gets fired after four games,” doubt can creep in.
▪ Rizzi is one of nine assistants from Joe Philbin’s staff retained by Gase. He pushed back against the narrative that perhaps nine were too many.
“From where I sit, there were 17 coaches from last year who won’t be back,” Rizzi said. “I’m as excited going in with this new coaching staff as I’ve ever been. … [Gase] has put a great coaching staff together.”