Chad O’Shea found himself in a wholly unique position Tuesday.
Never before had the Dolphins’ first-year offensive coordinator been forced to answer questions about a play call that went the wrong way, and ultimately cost his team a win.
This is his first time calling plays on any level during his 24-year coaching career. And Sunday was the first time a game that he called came down to one play.
With the Dolphins down a point to the Redskins and going for two, O’Shea radioed in a wide-receiver screen to Kenyan Drake. If executed properly, it would have won the game. Instead, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s throw was behind Drake, the pass was dropped, and even if it weren’t, the blocking was bad.
So it’s fair to ask: If O’Shea had it to do over again, would he make the same call?
O’Shea had no backdown when asked about any second thoughts Tuesday.
“I think it’s easy to obviously look back at those decisions, and I’ve learned from all the decisions I’ve made,” O’Shea said. “I’ve tried to look back and have confidence in the decisions I’ve made and try not to second-guess myself. I’ve certainly learned from the decisions I’ve made.
“When you put as much preparation and planning as we do on certain plays and certain areas of the game plan, that you have confidence that you shouldn’t second-guess yourself,” he continued, “and I think you always learn from certain things, but certainly you can’t second-guess every call that’s made in the game.”
As a reminder, there was a lot of moving parts on that play. The Dolphins had their backup quarterback (Fitzpatrick), running back (Drake), and center (Evan Boehm) on the field, due to various reasons. That trio of players did not practice that play together all week. And the Dolphins were without a timeout.
A lot could go wrong. And many things did.
“The two-point conversion, as well as other critical situations during the game, are well thought-out prior to the game, are discussed in our planning, both as an offensive staff and with the head coach,” O’Shea said. “I think Brian [Flores] has done a great job of having open communication with us as an offensive staff on those plays that might come up during the game that we consider critical situations. Certainly, the two-point play was.
“It was a play we had talked about and discussed,” he continued. “And it was a play that we thought was best for our team at that time. It’s no different than any other situation that may come up in a game, whether it’s a critical third down or the play before that was a critical play that Fitz made a great play on that we were able to score to put us in position to run the two-point play. Those things are all discussed at length, prior to the game and even discussed prior to the play.”
▪ Fitzpatrick, who came in after Josh Rosen was pulled for ineffectiveness, rallied the Dolphins with a two-touchdown fourth quarter and nearly pulled off the victory. O’Shea said Fitzpatrick got some work with the first team during practice last week but obviously not a lot.
“He provided a spark,” O’Shea added. “I think he came in and we were able to move the ball with him in the game. He’s a veteran player at the position who’s been in this position before, where he’s come off the bench and provided a spark. He certainly did that for us. It was good to see. It was a real positive for us.”
▪ Former first-round pick Charles Harris was on the field for only 12 snaps Sunday, perhaps a sign that the Dolphins were concerned about how he would hold up against Washington’s run-heavy attack. But Dolphins defensive coordinator Patrick Graham suggested Harris could play more going forward — although logic suggests it might not be this week against the Bills, who also run the ball a ton.
“Anything we do in terms of guys being out on the field is game-planned, what we think is best for that week, and all that stuff can change from week to week,” Graham said. “So, nothing’s set in stone. Whatever happened last week, this week’s a totally different deal. We’re going to do what we think is best for Buffalo and utilize the players’ skill set. Charles, Taco [Charlton], all of those guys, we’re going to use all those guys to help us win the game, so that’s usually what happens there.”