The Miami Dolphins on Wednesday held their first practice under interim head coach Dan Campbell, just three days into his tenure as the head coach for the club. It immediately became clear that things were different than the practices Joe Philbin previously held, with Campbell starting practice with the Oklahoma drill, a drill in which two players line up across from each other and, on the signal to go, run toward each other and either try to tackle each other or shove the other out of the assigned area for the drill. It is a live hitting drill, and one that is not used a lot anymore at the NFL level - but it clearly got the attention of the media and the team on Wednesday.
After the practice, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was asked about Campbell breaking out the Oklahoma drill and if it surprised him. “I wasn’t surprised at all," the fourth year quarterback responded. "It’s kind of a flashback to college. But that’s who Dan is. He rides. It’s a physical, aggressive game and you know there’s been times this year where we haven’t played as physical as we wanted to play it. So I think that’s his mentality right now is to get us back to that mind set and so that we go out and not just play but where we go out and dominate."
Tannehill said the speed at which the Dolphins changed coaches, four games into the season but after three straight losses, was a little startling. “Honestly I was a little surprised," he explained. "Just four games into it. I have a ton of respect for Coach Philbin and what he’s done here. Not only on the football field but just the way he represented the organization; the way he carried himself; the respect that he showed everyone. Just a great man that we all learned from within in the building. But once they moved on I think Dan is a guy who can bring a different element to the game than Coach Philbin did and if anyone can get it turned around its Dan."
Will the 11-year veteran tight end turned interim head coach be able to get the team playing the way everyone thought they would before the season? “Dan is already kind of turning things around for us," Tannehill continued. "He just brings a lot of energy, passion, aggression that I think this teams needs right now. Just playing the game physically, aggressively and going after dominate. I think he brings, like I said a lot of energy to practice each and every day. On to the meeting rooms and every time he speaks you can just feel his passion and how much he cares about the game."
The Dolphins have their one off-week for the 2015 season this weekend, giving Campbell two weeks to get the Dolphins ready for their next game. On Wednesday, he showed the team and the media that he is not going to ease into the transition, immediately getting the players moving, hitting, and working. According to Tannehill, Campbell told the team to expect more of the high-energy practices every single day, "He just talked about we’re gonna be a physical team. You know I’m gonna bring that element back to it. We’re going to toe the line. Being aggressive. You know the mindset that we attack each and every game or in every day we attack every day. It’s going to be a physical practice. We’re going to work extremely hard and go after each other in practice. Just test each other. Just to make each other better because if you go out in practice and take it easy on each other, obviously you’re not getting any better."
How does Tannehill feel about the practice changes? "I love that. I love the fact that we’re going to go out and practice hard against each other and that way when we get to the game we’re fully prepared."
The Dolphins, currently 1-3 on the year and in last place in the AFC East, next face the Tennessee Titans on October 18.