Let me provide some insight into two big misconceptions to start this.
The first is that new Miami Dolphins' offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who spent last season as the Philadelphia Eagles' QB coach, was the reason that Eagles' QB Nick Foles morphed from a guy who didn't win the QB job in training camp to the league's top rated passer and a Pro Bowler in 2013.
While Lazor obviously worked with Foles, being that he was the QB coach, someone I trust tells me that a large chunk of Foles' development must be credited to Eagles' HC Chip Kelly. Kelly, who calls his own plays, is a huge control freak over his offense and therefore was a bit of a micromanager when it came to the most important facet of his offense's success (Foles). Keep in mind that this is simply speculation, but smoke like this really makes you wonder what the fire truly looks like….
The second misconception is that Lazor, a former collegiate QB, was brought in specifically to mold, mentor and propel Dolphins' QB Ryan Tannehill into the top tier of QBs in the NFL. In truth, Lazor was brought in more for his diverse coaching background. Lazor has worked under coaching-greats Dan Reeves, Joe Gibbs, Mike Holmgren and most recently the offensive genius Kelly.
Lazor was brought in to counter the bland, predictable, one-dimensional offense that former OC Mike Sherman was committed to. The hope is that Lazor learned enough about the dynamic offensive attack in Philadelphia, which also featured the league's top ground game, to transfer that explosion to the Dolphins' offense, which was ranked 27th in the NFL in 2013 and scored less than 20 points per contest.
Not to mention, Tannehill is much more of a complete QB than Foles was before Kelly and his staff arrived. Tannehill came into the league as an extremely raw prospect who had only started a season and a half at QB (Tannehill was a WR at Texas A&M before making the position switch). But, Tannehill has taken enormous strides in his development under Sherman and Dolphins' HC Joe Philbin. Tannehill is now light-years ahead of pre-Kelly-regime-Foles in terms of being an NFL QB.
For Lazor to come in and try to change certain things about Tannehill's game would be counter-productive. It would set Tannehill, who still needs to improve his play-speed (like most young players), back tremendously as he would return to thinking about what he needs to do on the field instead of playing instinctively.
Lazor would be wise to build off of what's already in place when it comes to Tannehill and his development. This means tailoring the offense to his strengths, one of the few things that former OC Mike Sherman did well in his tenure with the Dolphins. Only with Lazor we can expect to see a plethora of roll outs and creative formations, something Sherman wasn't very fond of.
Tannehill's arm strength is his biggest weapon. Tannehill can zip a pass in to a receiver running a curl route before the cornerback even realizes the receiver turned around. I've always said this with Tannehill, when he throws a pass with velocity behind it, the ball usually ends up in the correct spot. However, when he has to use touch, deep throws to Mike Wallace for example, the throws aren't always on target.
The short and intermediate portions of the field are where Miami's passing attack will be most effective as these are the areas where Tannehill's arm strength will yield him many easy completions. This is why Lazor and the Dolphins will keep the elements of the west coast offense that the team employed under Sherman.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the WCO, it's a philosophy that includes attacking the field horizontally with the passing game to stretch out a defense to open up running lanes and room for big shots down the field. It requires an accurate QB and WRs who can run precise routes (which is why Brian Hartline thrives in this offense).
So, if the offense will stay the same for the most part, and he isn't molding Tannehill, why is Lazor the guy?
Lazor, as previously stated, has a very diverse coaching background. Lazor has worked for legends. Most importantly, though, Lazor has worked under Chip Kelly. The main reason that Sherman needed to be fired was the predictability and lack of creativity of his offense. How do you fix that? By poaching a coach from the most electric, unpredictable offense in the NFL.
Lazor needs to provide the diversity that his coaching resume owns to the Dolphins' offense. Lazor needs to be willing to move his receivers around the field to create mismatches and he needs to vary the route combinations of his receivers to keep the defense on their toes.
Most importantly, Lazor needs to bring some of the Philadelphia flare down to Miami.
Much of what Lazor does depends on how well Dolphins' GM Dennis Hickey did this offseason at rebuilding the offensive line and providing other key players, much like Sherman's ability to do his job was affected by former GM Jeff Ireland's ability (or lack thereof) to do his job. Much of what Lazor does will also look similar to what Sherman did. The difference, though, will be the predictability and execution of these plays.
If you are expecting to see a whole new offense with a revamped Tannehill throwing perfect rainbows deep down the field then you will be severely disappointed in the Dolphins' 2014 offense. If you are looking for an improvement in use of weapons, scheme diversity, and creativity on the offensive side of the ball then you are headed down the right alley.
Will Lazor turn Tannehill into the NFL's top rated passer? Is Lazor even responsible for Foles' development? The answers to these two questions are unforeseen, just like if the Dolphins' execution will be better on offense with Lazor's addition (execution is on the players). However, it's safe to say that the days of defenses knowing what the Dolphins are doing, the days of seeing Mike Wallace only lined up on the right side of the field, and the days of seeing WR screens on 4th & 5 are long gone.
We will see more of the same with Lazor, outside of some new running plays and a few more screens to the running backs, it will just be very different. Make sense right?