Has the Miami Dolphins Offense Picked Up the Pace?

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

One of Joe Philbin's goals when he took the head coaching position in Miami was to install an up-tempo offense, much like the one that he put up huge numbers with in Green Bay. But looking back at the his first season, was he successful with this plan?

Prior to Philbin's arrival, the Miami Dolphins ran a notoriously slow and unimaginative run-first offense under coach Tony Sparano. The results were not good. The Dolphins never ranked higher than 15th in scoring offense in Sparano's four seasons and lacked any consistent ability to put points on the board without a lengthy, time-consuming drive.

So Philbin's first task as head coach was simple, at least in theory: bring the up-tempo, no huddle offense that made him a successful offensive coordinator to Miami.

How well did the Dolphins carry out this plan in Philbin's first season? To provide some insight to the subject I'll use the statistics compiled by Chase Stuart of FooballPerspective.com.

According to Stuart, the Dolphins ran one play every 28.4 seconds, which places them in the middle-of-the-pack in the NFL in terms of offensive tempo. The Dolphins ranked 16th, virtually the same as the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams, and actually slightly lower than the New York Jets, who were coached by Sparano in 2012.

Leading the league at 24.9 seconds per play were the New England Patriots, more than a second quicker than the next- fastest team, the New Orleans Saints. Not much of a surprise there.

Philbin's goal was to put pressure on defenses by dictating the pace of the game, much like New England does to its opponents. When an offense pushes the pace, it prevents the defense from making adjustments and substitutions. Combined with the speedy and versatile players that Philbin has a preference for, running the no-huddle would give the Dolphins a significant edge against most NFL defenses.

The caveat is that the offense must execute soundly and the quarterback must have the mental aptitude to force the defense into mistakes. Without those two elements, a quick tempo would only result in quick-ending drives.

Tempo is not necessarily an indicator of how productive an offense will be -- though it's no coincidence that many of the top offenses operate at the quickest pace. The San Fransisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks rank last and next-to-last respectively in this category, but still have very effective offenses.

Instead, the stat is more of a reflection of a team's offensive philosophy and how well that team executes it. The Dolphins' second season under Joe Philbin should feature an improved use of the no-huddle and a quickening of the pace, as quarterback Ryan Tannehill gains experience and the players master the system.

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