The Dolphins have scored the sixth-fewest points in the NFL this season and ran the ball the fewest times of any team, in spite of the interim coach repeatedly saying he wants to run the ball more.
Those two factors were enough to doom offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who was fired Monday and essentially replaced by quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor.
“Offensively, we’ve been anemic for five weeks,” interim coach Dan Campbell said. “I want to see points. I want to see production.”
The Dolphins haven’t had nearly enough of either. They’re 26th in yards and 27th in points, having failed to top 20 points in nine of their 11 games.
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Taylor, 32, will be the team’s de facto offensive coordinator, though he wasn’t given the title. He will call the plays on offense, something he has never done in his career.
Taylor, in both a meeting with his players and a subsequent session with reporters, made this very clear:
“We are going to run the ball. OK?” Taylor said. “I can’t sit here and say we’re going to run 10 straight times. [But] it’s important our players have that mindset.”
The Dolphins have run the ball just 218 times this season despite averaging 4.6 yards per carry — which ranks seventh in the league.
Miami had just 12 yards rushing on nine carries in Sunday’s 38-20 loss to the Jets, dropping their record to 4-7 overall and 0-5 in the AFC East.
“I don’t think we scare anybody in the AFC East and that bothers me,” Campbell said. “We have to find a way to become a more physical offense. We need more of a physical presence. We need to find a way, even if it is two yards and a cloud of dust. If it brings a little thump and a little attitude, it may be worth it.”
Asked if his philosophy differed with Lazor’s, Campbell said: “I am a more run-oriented person. I like a more balanced approach. …
“We’ve tried to do a number of different things and it didn’t work out. I wouldn’t make this move [firing Lazor] for a spark. I made it because it gives us the best opportunity to win.”
Taylor said the offense will be simplified and streamlined but said the team’s basic offensive system would not be overhauled.
“We believe in this system, what we’ve been doing,” Taylor said. “We just have to find ways to be more effective. We’ve had success in this system.”
Lazor had caused some frustration by refusing to allow quarterback Ryan Tannehill to audible to a play that wasn’t given to him by Lazor. Tannehill said he had discussed that issue with Lazor, but Lazor declined to loosen the reins.
Will Taylor give Tannehill that freedom to audible?
“Those are things we’re still discussing,” Taylor said. “Everything is on the table.”
Campbell said it was his decision to fire Lazor, though he said he spoke with owner Stephen Ross and team executive Mike Tannenbaum before making the move.
The Dolphins ranked 11th in the NFL in scoring at 24.3 per game in 2014, Lazor’s first season with the team after replacing Mike Sherman, who is Taylor’s father-in-law.
But the Dolphins are averaging just 20.4 points per game this season.
Taylor, who previously coached tight ends at Texas A&M, has been the Dolphins’ quarterback coach since 2013. He was the 2006 Big 12 Player of the Year as a quarterback at Nebraska.
“I have not called plays before [but] I have called 1,000 games in my head,” he said. “I have absolutely prepared [for this].”
Campbell said he believes Taylor is ready to call plays because “he’s a very bright guy. He understands the protections … the run game … the pass game. I have a lot of faith in Zac. We’re all going to have input.”
Taylor said he will seek advice from Sherman, who was the offensive coordinator during Tannehill’s first two seasons, because “he has been a huge influence in my life. I learned a lot of football from him. I talk to him almost weekly.”
But Taylor said the circumstances of his promotion are “not ideal. This is not how I dreamed up the situation happening. Bill Lazor was awesome to me. He took the fall for us.”
In the past two months, the Dolphins have fired their head coach (Joe Philbin), defensive coordinator (Kevin Coyle) and now Lazor.
The move also ensures Tannehill will play under his third different offensive system in five years. Tannehill signed a big-money contract extension this offseason, but has regressed.
The Dolphins made one other move Monday, promoting Phil McGeoghan to wide receivers coach.
Miami Herald reporter Adam H. Beasley contributed to this report.