Miami Dolphins

Dolphins’ next play-caller talks offensive philosophy, what he wants in a QB and more

What do you want to know about Chad O’Shea, the guy tasked with fixing the Dolphins’ broken offense?

That he spent childhood years playing catch in the parking lot of the Orange Bowl, where his father Mike served as the Hurricanes’ athletic trainer for a half-decade under Howard Schnellenberger?

That he was the quarterback and captain at the University of Houston in the mid-1990s, and got his start in coaching at his alma mater after graduation?

That he so badly wanted to work in the NFL that he did it for free for a season on Dick Vermeil’s staff in Kansas City, barely keeping afloat financially in what was basically an unpaid internship year?

That on Sunday, he will coach in his fifth Super Bowl since joining Bill Belichick’s staff in 2009?

No, Dolphins fans, you want to know what system Chad O’Shea will run as Miami’s next offensive coordinator, a job he is expected to take as soon as Monday. He will call plays for Dolphins’ coach-in-waiting Brian Flores, his colleague for the past decade.

O’Shea, of course, cannot yet talk about that, not with work unfinished. He is still the Patriots’ wide receivers coach through Super Sunday, so this week is about getting Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett ready for the Rams.

But O’Shea, during a nearly 15-minute interview with the Miami Herald Wednesday, was more than happy to discuss his philosophy and New England’s scheme and what he wants in a quarterback. And there’s nothing stopping the rest of us from taking that context and projecting it forward.

Will he bring the Patriots’ consistently successful Erhardt-Perkins system with him to Miami? We’ll find out next week, but based on the way he praised it Wednesday, it’s a safe bet.

“I think we’ve been able to put players on the field that share some common traits that are very important in offensive players,” said O’Shea, 46. “Dependability, consistency, ability to adjust, whether it be a different game plan for a different opponent. Whether it be a position that they might not have played previously that we feel is the best role for them to be successful in winning the game. I think that’s something we’ve always asked our players. We’re going to ask you to be in a role that’s to try to win the game.

“It might not be a role that you’ve been best suited for in the past, but it’s a role in which we’re going to put you in because we think it’s the best thing for the team.”

But he won’t squeeze a round hole into a square peg. There’s no better example of this than Julian Edelman, who arrived in Massachusetts as a converted quarterback the same year O’Shea joined Bill Belichick’s staff. Edelman has a rare ability to get open and catch the football, but he did not necessarily fit the Patriots’ system. So New England changed its system to suit his ability.

Ten years, 499 catches and 30 touchdowns later, Edelman’s place in Patriots history is secure. But his story might have been different with a different position coach.

“Coach O’Shea’s had a huge impact on my career,” Edelman said. “We both came in 10 years ago. He’s not only coached me a lot but he’s been kind of like a figure that keeps me intact mentally. He knows how to deal with people in a real way. We have a special relationship because we came here at the same time. I love having him as a coach.”

Added Patriots receiver Phillip Dorsett: “I don’t want to be biased, but he’s one of the best receivers coaches I’ve had. He’s helped me a lot.”

In Miami, O’Shea won’t be responsible for five or six players. More like 25.

And he all but acknowledged Wednesday that, if he doesn’t get the right quarterback, nothing else really matters.

The Dolphins are expected to move on from Ryan Tannehill this offseason, and will surely draft his replacement high, either this year or next.

And the traits most important to O’Shea in that position? Accuracy and leadership.

“I think in the end, the decisions the quarterback makes are very important,” O’Shea said, “but the accuracy has as much to do with the success of a quarterback as any other trait he would physically have.”

So keep that in mind as we evaluate the draft class in the next three months. Arm strength is important, but it’s useless without accuracy.

“I truly still believe in the player,” he added. “I think that you can have a system in place, but if you don’t have the right players to fit within that system, the system isn’t going to work. I think it’s important to identify what your players that you have available to you do best and to try to build the system around what those players do.”

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Adam Beasley has covered the Dolphins for the Miami Herald since 2012, and has worked for the newspaper since 2006. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and has written about sports professionally since 1996.
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