Clyde Christensen is a reporter’s dream. The Dolphins’ offensive coordinator is candid, funny and always accommodating.
The man just loves to talk, and he’s never dull. And given his stature (Christensen is in his 22nd NFL season), he can get away with saying almost anything.
He went for 20 minutes Tuesday. But instead of poorly summarizing what Miami’s offensive coordinator had to say, here is the best of the best, straight from the source.
Among the topics on which Christensen opined:
▪ The NFL relaxing its celebration rules: “I can’t keep up with it. I know this, coach [Adam] Gase and I have our biggest arguments over those. I’m probably the old conservative guy. ‘We don’t need penalties.’ And [Gase] is ‘Hey, cut it loose and we’ll make up for it somewhere else.’ (laughter) We probably have our biggest arguments on penalties and celebration penalties, taunting and swagger and all of those things. I’m probably old school. ‘I don’t know, maybe we can cut those babies down just a little bit and still have our edge.’ Hopefully we can get both. I don’t know. I don’t want it to be a big deal. I want it to be a fun game. I enjoy the game. I enjoy celebrating with the best of them. You don’t want it to be obnoxious; somewhere in the middle. I hope they’ll get it right and we’ll move on. It shouldn’t be a factor. We shouldn’t be talking about that. That’s how I see it.”
▪ Gase projecting 350 carries for Jay Ajayi: “We’re going to have to increase his medication right there if he’s going to hand him … That’s a lot of runs. (laughter) We’ll see. All kidding aside, I think he can. I do think that’s what the good teams [do]. ... I do think he could carry it. He’s a big guy. He’s a physical guy. I was really impressed with him last year taking the beating he took, really, for the first time ever playing a 17-game season. He kept going and stayed strong. I kept looking for him to flinch and shy up from some hits, and he keeps going. I don’t have any doubt he could go 350 carries.”
▪ Ryan Tannehill sliding differently in his brace: “I do think you have to learn to slide with that thing. I’ve been around some ugly sliders; some good quarterbacks who were ugly sliders. It is a learn thing. All of a sudden that thing catches and contorts you around. I do think there is a knack to it. I do think it’ll be a, ‘Let’s make sure he’s healthy first, and then we’ll worry about practicing that.’ But there will be a point in training camp and I think preseason where you do address it and make sure … You don’t go overboard. I don’t know that we’ll send him up to the Yankees or anything, perfect it that far. (laughter) But it is a funny deal, because that thing kind of sticks out and it protrudes and all of a sudden catches and flips you at bad angles and stuff. It is a factor, and you do have to do it. It’s kind of one of those things where you start on the turf, which is an even surface, and then you do it a little bit on grass and then you just go down the road and you don’t want it to be a factor; but you do have to address it.”
▪ The Dolphins’ competition at guard: “I think we’re going to end up deep again. I think we’re even better prepared. It’ll be the silver lining of [Mike] Pouncey’s thing is that we’re rotating a lot of guys through there. The rookie [Isaac Asiata] is still in the learning phase, but I think that he can keep getting better [and] can get into the mix. We’ve got a pool of guys there that I think we’re going to end up being pretty darn deep. We’ll have more experience and more depth than last year at this time, again. Then you get the injection, the shot, the shot of getting Pouncey right back in – and all those guys have had some quality reps under their belt – I think it can really end up being a heck of a situation for us when we get to opening day.”
▪ How the offense makes another leap in 2017: “I think the glaring thing is third down and I think penalties. You can’t stop drives. We tease about it, but it is hard to come back from first-and-25, first-and-20, end up being third-and-14. That’s a low percentage way to play football. I do think it’s probably third down and cutting the penalties down – the penalties in the red zone. Almost everything we did as far as studying the offense this offseason went back to, ‘We did some good things. We just didn’t have enough drives in the red zone,’ or, ‘We didn’t have enough snaps,’ or, ‘We didn’t have enough carries.’ If you multiplied them out to a decent number of snaps, they all multiplied out where you were probably better than what we thought we were. But they didn’t. We didn’t get those snaps, so it wasn’t good enough. I think that is … Those are the two things that jump out at me are the turnovers in critical games, third down throughout the season, penalties. We can’t get stupid penalties and put ourselves in … And have to get lucky to keep drives going. You can’t stop drives with a penalty. [It’s the] same thing [with] field position and all those things. The penalties stopping drives, they’re hard to overcome. You get a holding call, you jump offsides – all those things, those are crushers. It’s hard not to do it (and) get 10 yards in three downs. All of a sudden you make it 20 yards and two downs or 14 yards and one down. Now all of a sudden, it’s uphill. It puts too much stress on everybody, and that’s where something snaps in those big games it did on us.”