Ryan Tannehill’s relationship with his offensive coordinator was, at times, contentious.
On Monday, that relationship ended, at least professionally, and Tannehill doesn’t seem overly broken up about it.
A possible reason why: He appears to be move’s No. 1 beneficiary.
Tannehill said the perfunctory things when asked Wednesday about Bill Lazor’s termination; “It’s tough to see a guy work so hard and get let go,” he said.
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But in the next breath, Tannehill raved about Lazor’s replacement, Zac Taylor.
“I’m excited about the step we’re taking,” Tannehill said. “I’m excited about some new things that we’ll be doing on offense and having Zac at the helm.”
Those “new things” are plays and concepts that Tannehill likes, as opposed to the calls Lazor demanded. Tannehill will be given far more ownership in the offense moving forward, according to Dolphins coach Dan Campbell.
The biggest change: Tannehill will be allowed to audible some at the line of scrimmage, which he could not do with Lazor in charge.
“There’s things that we’re going to be able to do, that we are going to do,” Campbell said. “We’re not going to live in that world, but we have a few plays where Ryan’s going to have the luxury to get us to the best option available.”
Under Lazor, Tannehill was either forbidden from changing the play at the line, or allowed only to switch to one that Lazor had provided in advance.
In the weeks to come, he will be given “more latitude” to go off-script, Campbell said.
Futhermore, Tannehill will have a hand in writing that script.
Tannehill met with Dolphins coaches on Monday to suggest concepts and ideas he would like used Sunday against the Ravens.
“He’s got ownership in it as well,” Campbell said. “I think it’s like anything else. If you have an idea and you’re willing to step up on a table for it, you’re going to do everything it takes to make it work. ... I’m a big believer that your quarterback should have influence on what he likes and what he doesn’t like in the game plan.”
Left unsaid: Lazor wasn’t as receptive to outside suggestions.
What’s more, Lazor’s infamously strong personality often clashed with his players. That works when team are successful. When they stink, it wears thin.
So the move Monday to replace Lazor with Taylor “had to happen,” according to prominent voices inside the organization, and it was as much about eliminating dysfunction as it was winning the season’s last five games.
Campbell also wasn’t pleased with Lazor’s run-pass ratio; the Dolphins had a staggering 6.8 passes for every run against the Jets on Sunday.
“They emphasized to us Monday, that we’re going to run the ball,” said Lamar Miller, who has carried the ball just 12 times in the last two weeks. “Us as running backs, of course we got happy.”
Taylor, who has been Tannehill’s position coach since 2012, stressed the same to reporters Monday.
The Dolphins have struggled to find the right fit for Tannehill ever since he entered the league; Mike Sherman wasn’t the ideal coordinator for Tannehill, they decided after two seasons.
And already this year, both Lazor and Joe Philbin have been shown the door. Campbell and Taylor will likely be next, unless they finally figure out how to maximize Tannehill’s abilities. But they need their quarterback to make the throws that are there, which has also been an issue.
“I think if coordinators are getting fired then, ... to some extent, players are not getting it done,” Tannehill said. “I think Bill had some good stuff, had a good offense and ultimately we weren’t getting it done on the field.”
Tannehill added: “Yeah, I think a lot of it goes on myself and the other players on offense, that we weren’t scoring enough points, we weren’t moving the ball effectively and that’s what makes that move a little tough.”