Armando Salguero

More changes coming to the Dolphins’ offensive staff – which needs them

Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase and some of his assistants look on during the second half of a loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase and some of his assistants look on during the second half of a loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. AP

The work of remaking the Miami Dolphins offensive coaching staff continues.

Coach Adam Gase has reassigned offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen and hired former Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains as the new coordinator. The coach let senior offensive assistant Dave DeGuglielmo’s contract expire and he won’t be brought back, as Jeremiah Washburn was hired as the offensive line coach on Thursday.

Today is only the fifth day since the Dolphins 2017 season ended and Gase has already taken a hammer to his offensive staff.

And, yes, sources tell The Miami Herald to expect more change.

But what’s left?

Well, not a lot.

There’s wide receiver coach Shawn Jefferson. There’s quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree. There’s tight ends coach Shane Day. There’s running backs coach Danny Barrett. And that’s basically it.

I assume that just as Gase evaluated his offensive coordinator and looked at the offensive line he’s going to look at those coaches.

Wait, stop.

My guess is he’s not going to look at the quarterbacks because the Dolphins defacto quarterback coach is ... Adam Gase.

Gase talks to them. Builds them up. Finds and calls plays they like. Protects them when bad people like mean columnist Mando suggests they’re not perfect and the Dolphins need to draft another QB.

The Dolphins quarterbacks are Gase’s babies.

Hardegree, who has been with the Dolphins two seasons and has been in the NFL four seasons, is as much a Gase project as the quarterbacks themselves.

He was hired by Gase to be the QB coach in 2016. And before that he was an offensive assistant under Gase in Chicago in 2015. And before that he was an offensive quality control coach under Gase in Denver in 2014.

And not really having a full grasp of how expert Hardegree is because reporters and assistants are generally not allowed to talk, I cannot say whether this coach is a budding star or not.

But on the surface I can tell you this: I see limited experience. I see that Jay Cutler just finished his 12th NFL season, and Matt Moore just finished his 11th NFL season, and Ryan Tannehill will begin his seventh NFL season in 2018.

And Hardegree has been a QB coach two years.

That’s not a criticism. That’s just a fact.

So perhaps Gase might want to find someone more experienced. The problem with that? Experienced QB coaches want to, you know, coach the QBs.

And as Gase is the one who handles the QBs, it might be difficult to find a star QB coach willing to come to Miami.

So, Bo Hardegree.

Moving on to Shawn Jefferson ...

He is one of the most experienced and accomplished assistants on the Dolphins staff. He’s been an NFL assistant since 2005 and has coached in Detroit (2005-12), Tennessee ( 2013-15), as well as Miami the past two seasons.

And I have no complaint about Jefferson’s experience because aside from having coached the past dozen seasons, he also played in the NFL. That’s right, Jefferson just finished his 26th NFL season.

But aside from experience, my hope is that the Dolphins in general and Gase in particular look at results.

Results are kind of a thing with me. They’re important. Results are kind of important in the NFL.

And I weigh the results of the Dolphins receiver corps and I find it wanting.

Consider:

Leonte Carroo, a 2016 third-round selection, has not developed. He caught three passes as a rookie and seven in his second season. And obviously he hasn’t gotten many opportunities because the Dolphins generally stick with their top three receivers.

But limited playing time means a player hasn’t developed enough to earn getting on the field. And that’s on the player. And his coach.

DeVante Parker? Don’t get me started. Jefferson predicted Parker would be “a monster” in 2017.

Well, it was indeed monstrous.

Parker disappointed with 57 catches for 670 yards and one TD. He has more natural ability and talent than any Dolphins receiver maybe this entire century. But the man doesn’t play well when he’s hurt. And the problem with the NFL is everybody often hurt because it is a violent sport.

So if you’re a player who cannot perform because your hamstring aches or your groin is sore or a finger dislocated, you’re not worth your salt because that happens to everyone all the time.

So Parker hasn’t developed as expected. Again, that’s on Parker. And Jefferson.

Jarvis Landry, meanwhile, believed himself a fully formed NFL wide receiver of the highest caliber when Gase and his staff arrived. Why did Landry think this? Because of his gaudy statistics.

Except that Landry was wrong. He had rout-running details to learn. He had playbook details that he didn’t seem to follow all the time. (Yes, he ran wrong routes). And he had that passion that was good, but often turned into a problem when he let it boil over into full fledged rage.

Landry advanced this season. He was better than last year. But he’s a fourth-year professional that, frankly, should be better.

Kenny Stills? The freaky truth of the matter is I have heard more anecdotes about Stills helping receivers develop, and Stills showing guys on how to prepare, and Stills rallying the receiver room, than I have about Jefferson.

Jakeem Grant? I don’t know who to blame for this but it’s obvious to anyone with eyes the Dolphins should be using Grant more. Period.

Is he a huge hit-or-miss proposition? Yes. People who catch 70-yard passes typically are. So get him the ball more often in games. Take shots with him more often.

Unless, of course, everybody’s good with averaging 17.8 points per game.

The bottom line with the wide receiver room is I keep hearing how talented it is and how much Gase likes it and how they mesh because everyone offers something different. And yet this group’s production is not dynamic.

It is average. That reflects on Jefferson.

And not in a good way.

Shane Day? He just finished his second season with the Dolphins as their tight ends coach.

And he has two years of NFL tight ends coach experience.

And the Dolphins tight ends production the past two years has been a disappointment.

I mentioned this to someone within the organization on Thursday and the answer was something akin to it being a problem with the talent level.

I sort of buy that. Let’s face it, the Dolphins thought they were getting 2013-14 Julius Thomas when they traded for him this season.

And they actually got 57-year-old activist-painter Julius Thomas who didn’t separate from slower players and didn’t out-muscle or box out smaller players.

So that’s not Day’s fault. But neither did he exactly solve it.

And neither did he exactly develop Thomas Duarte, who we still haven’t seen in a game for any significant snaps. And MarQueis Gray seemed to do less this year than last year.

The only tight end that had a better-than-expected season for Miami this year was Anthony Fasano. Except I’m not giving Day any credit for that because Fasano has been an NFL tight end for 12 seasons.

He’s probably forgotten more about playing tight end than his position coach knows.

I would give Day the benefit of the doubt except this offseason the Dolphins are likely going to invest a considerable amount of money or a significant draft pick on a tight end.

Most NFL teams would typically want to turn that big investment over to a position coach that knows all there is to know and has a proven track record for developing tight ends.

Danny Barrett? He’s the running backs coach.

And I have absolutely no issue with this guy because his players have simply performed. Period. The end.

OK, not the end.

Barrett has only two years of NFL experience. (Yeah, this offensive staff is a nursery school of NFL experience).

But in those two years, Barrett developed Jay Ajayi from a middling unknown to the fourth-leading rusher in the NFL. And when the Dolphins decided with seven games to play in 2017 that Ajayi needed to go, Kenyan Drake was thrust into the starting role.

And Kenyan Drake is one of the feel-good stories of the season for a Dolphins season with very few of those. Drake performed.

So dilly-dilly, Danny Barrett.

Great work!

That’s it. And now that I’ve written this out I can understand why the Dolphins offense never found consistency in 2017, took a long time to figure things out, was often out-maneuvered by opponents, and never found its identity.

Yes, the talent had a lot to do with it.

And Adam Gase, the play-caller, had a lot to do with that.

But the Miami Dolphins lack quality experience among multiple position coaches. And the position coach with the most experience lorded over an under-performing wide receiver room.

No wonder Gase is trying to upgrade his offensive staff. It needs it.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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