Welcome to the Joe Philbin era in Miami--a coaching regime where the pass is king, the red zone is green, and the receivers are fast and pristine instead of big and mean (thanks, I'll be here all week; kindly tip your waitress).
I'll be your tour guide on this journey through West Coast offense awesomeness, but be warned: this isn't the kind of NFL offense that can (or should) be built overnight. No, siree. Rather, Philbin will have to find his guy (aka quarterback) via the draft, and he'll have to identify and target WCO-approved receivers the same way. That'll take an entire draft ... and possibly more. And all of this must be done under the watchful eye of a Dolphins fanbase that is on the verge of meltdown following general manager Jeff Ireland's less-than-sterling performance in free agency this past week (though I thought the Soliai re-signing and Richard Marshall acquisition were much better than advertised). Quite the tall order for this regime, but it's fair to say that fans are probably a lot more worked up than Philbin is at this point. He knows what he wants, and he knows how to go and get it (he basically had front-row seats for this sort of draft process during his time in Green Bay). Best of all, this draft is loaded with the kind of talent he needs at receiver. Quarterback? That will remain to be seen.Look, almost every Dolphins fan here is disappointed in Ireland and his lack of "splash" activity in free agency. I get it. He's an arrogant schlub--the antithesis of everything Stuart Smalley stood for during his skits on Saturday Night Live. That said, we'll need Ireland more than ever in about a month when the NFL Draft is underway, so feel free to stay angry, but keep a couple of things in mind in the meantime:
Matt Moore and David Garrard are nothing more than short-term solutions
There's no way in hell Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman are cool with hanging their currents jobs on the hope that one of those two quarterbacks will be a franchise guy. Rather, Moore and Garrard are stopgaps while the Dolphins pursue their long-term quarterback in the draft. Unfortunately, it might not be this draft. Prospects such as Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill, Arizona State's Brock Osweiler and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins offer plenty of intrigue at the quarterback position, but if Philbin and Co. don't see any of them as an impact player, the Dolphins won't draft them. If they didn't sign Matt Flynn, it's probably safe to say they're not going to settle on just any quarterback in the draft, either. However, if the guy's a diamond-in-waiting developmental project, the presence of Moore and Garrard becomes exponentially more important. They can hold the fort down while Philbin brings in his brand-new quarterback and prepares him to take over Miami's West Coast offense. If that guy isn't in this draft, though, don't get too down. The 2013 NFL Draft will be a quarterback party (even more so than 2012 was projected to be), and the Dolphins should be able to make the moves necessary to ensure that they walk away on draft night with Arkansas' Tyler Wilson, Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Georgia's Aaron Murray, Tennessee's Tyler Bray ... or USC's Matt Barkley (cue sound of cash registers).
Expect to see a Packers-like approach to adding offensive talent in Miami
Forget about the Dolphins looking to free agency as a quick fix for their roster. Free agency should augment what a team already has in place (unless we're talking about Drew Brees); Philbin and the Dolphins want to rebuild this offense brick by brick, and are fortunate to have a few cornerstones (Jake Long, Mike Pouncey) already in place. It will take time to put this offense together the right way, but the reward for doing so could be extremely sweet (and shiny). Therefore, look for the Dolphins to hunker down and draft quality offensive pieces early and often this April. It could be a bevy of receivers; it could be a pass-catching tight end; it could be a quarterback. No one really knows who the Dolphins will target in this draft, and that's both an exciting and terrifying concept.
The Dolphins have consecutive picks (Nos. 73 and 74) in the third round of the 2012 draft, and it wouldn't be a stretch to assume they'll use those selections to double down on available receiver talent. Speaking of, let's take a look at a Philbin-approved wide receiver Big Board.
1) Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
A true playmaker with a great blend of hands, speed and ball skills. Plays bigger than 6'1".
2) Kendall Wright, Baylor
Fast, strong and smooth. An explosive athlete with great hands and the ability to create separation.
3) Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
The latest Yellowjacket receiver to make some pre-draft noise, Hill is a lanky speedster who demonstrated strong route-running ability at his pro day.
4) Marvin Jones, California
Underrated, but certainly not underskilled. Big (6'2, 200), speedy, and able to go up and make highlight reel grabs.
5) Joe Adams, Arkansas
A do-everything burner with the ability to swing for the fences every time he touches the ball.
6) Chris Givens, Wake Forest
Pairs good size (6'0", 195) with better hands and mach speed.
7) T.J. Graham, North Carolina State
You haven't lived until you see this guy run in the open field. Positively lightning.
8) Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
Lacks home-run speed, but slinks through his routes effortlessly and is a true playmaker. Suffered ACL tear last November.
9) A.J. Jenkins, Illinois
Impressive prospect with great speed (4.39) and high upside. Hands can be inconsistent, but he snaps through his routes and is a vertical terror.
10) Travis Benjamin, Miami
Pint sized, but a nightmare to get after in the open field. Defenses are forced to either jam Benjamin at the line or suffer the consequences.