Armando Salguero

Up-tempo, no-huddle might become the personality of 2017 Miami Dolphins offense

Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler will play a key role in the team’s decision to use its up-tempo offense.
Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler will play a key role in the team’s decision to use its up-tempo offense.

LOS ANGELES -- Think of the Miami Dolphins offense for a moment: We have Jay Ajayi carrying the ball 900 times this coming season because coach Adam Gase promised. We have a new quarterback who has been with the team six weeks. We have an offensive line that played together for maybe 80 combined snaps in training camp and the preseason.

There are a lot of moving parts. There are a lot of new parts. There is talent that suggests take it slow and be methodical.

And, of course, that kind of worked last year when the Dolphins won 9 of 10 games in one stretch.

So it makes sense to do that again, right?

Right?

Nope.

The 2017 Dolphins want to be up-tempo. Fast. No huddle.

“A lot of our offense is no huddle,” receiver Jarvis Landry said Thursday. “We just decide to slow it down. We’re not really a huddle team. We’re a no huddle team that decides to huddle when we want to. That’s a better way to put it.”

Last season you’ll recall the Dolphins decided they wanted to huddle most of the time. But the truth is coaches decided they had to huddle for the following reasons:

1. To protect the defense because after the up-tempo approach led to a bunch of three-and-outs, it put the defense on the field for 70-80 plays in games -- and that led to a lot of points by opponents.

2. To protect offensive players from themselves because there were just too many mistakes being made when the team was trying to go up-tempo. The offense was better, more efficient when it go rolled back and, yes, dumbed down.

This season, however, the Dolphins would like to try to go back to the original plan -- if not a full-time crazy up-tempo Peyton Manning Denver Broncos 2013-14 no huddle, then something less nutty but still more than last year.

The Dolphins want to press issue more. And they want to work the up-tempo, no-huddle thing well enough that they’re putting pressure on the opposing defenses rather than their own.

It should be fun to watch if it works.

(If it doesn’t work it will get shelved again).

So why do the Dolphins think they can consider doing what proved ineffective a year ago?

It begins with quarterback Jay Cutler. He’s been surprisingly good in practice running the no-huddle stuff.

“I hadn’t been around Jay much. I think probably the thing that surprised me is how natural he is with the no-huddle stuff,” said offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen. “He’s an even-kneeled guy. He picked up things so quickly. I thought it would take a little bit of a while just to get back in rhythm; but again, it just shows he has done it for so long, and he’s a veteran guy.

“How smoothly he came in and picked up and went with the thing, I don’t think I would have anticipated it being quite as smooth and efficiently transitioned as it was. That’s probably the surprise.”

(Just so you are aware, the Dolphins have not come out and announce they want to go no-huddle. That’s a big, shhh, secret. But here you understand they’ve been working on it a lot (based on what Christensen said). They’re thinking of themselves as this up-tempo team (based on what Landry said). And so even though they have shown just a little of it in the preseason, you’re starting to see a picture come into focus. Are you getting the clues?)

And now this: Coach Adam Gase is who he is. His personality is to be aggressive on offense. He is Mike Martz without the huge out-there egocentric personality. He wants to attack.

“I think that’s what coach Gase’s intention from the beginning has been to be up tempo,” Christensen said. “It’d be important this week that we can play some up tempo and keep those guys breathing hard, those outside rushers. I think that has always been his intention. We’ll have to see how far we can get with it; but we have wanted to play with tempo.

“Last year, we kind of pulled it back and felt like at a point with some of the ways things were going, that we were better off huddling at times. But his intention is to be an up tempo, right on the line of scrimmage guy.”

Remember, to be a no-huddle, up-tempo team is an intention at this stage. When the Dolphins try it, either after big plays or after a first-down or all the time, it has to work for the personality to stick.

If it doesn’t work, the Dolphins are not going to continue doing it for the sake of looking smart. It’s not smart to beat one’s head against concrete.

But if the no-huddle, up-tempo approach has success it could get expanded. It might become a thing. It might become the thing for the 2017 Miami Dolphins offense.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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