The Miami Dolphins have sent a lot of the offseason rebuilding a defense that underperformed last season. The addition of players like defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the continued dominance of defensive end Cameron Wake and cornerback Brent Grimes, and the establishment of players entering their prime like defensive end Olivier Vernon and Reshad Jones, all should have made Miami one of the top defenses in the league. Instead, Suh took time to adjust to his new team and role, Wake tore his Achilles tendon, and Grimes regressed, Vernon and Jones both played to a high level, including Jones making his first Pro Bowl selection, but it was not enough to allow Miami's defense to reach their lofty expectations.
This offseason, Miami has traded for cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso, released Grimes, and signed Isa Abdul-Quddus, Mario Williams, and Andre Branch. They also lost Vernon to the New York Giants in free agency.
There has been a lot of focus on the defense this offseason for the Dolphins, but what about an offense that only put up 19 points per game last year and struggled to find and keep a rhythm through much of the season?
"I'm really excited to get to being around (wide receiver) Jarvis (Landry)," new Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said when asked what surprised him about the Miami offense. Gase was answering questions during the NFL coaches breakfast this week. "To me, the way that he plays and seeing what he does on film ... He's around (the training facility) a lot. I see him in the weight room a lot. There's an intensity there that I'm really excited to be around this guy because he's such a competitor. It's interesting to me (that) he's one of those guys that a lot of people didn't see this coming. He felt like, ‘I'm going to prove a lot of people wrong.' I like being around guys like that, that have a chip on their (shoulder). You can tell he still feels that there's a respect factor that he doesn't get that he's looking for and he plays like that."
Landry was not the only offensive player Gase discussed during the breakfast. The coach was asked about the use of tight end Jordan Cameron, who signed as a free agent last year, but did not see the kind of success he had expected. "The tight end position in this offense has been one of the strengths as far as matchup issues with safeties and linebackers. I'm interested to see what we can do with him (and) what his strengths are. I feel like ... right now it's so hard because you can't practice, you can't see guys run routes. I need to see him live. I need to experiment. I need to flex him out and see what he feels comfortable doing, what routes he likes to do. That's going to be a learning experience for our coaching staff."
Gase went on to discuss second-year receiver DeVante Parker as well, "He's a talented player. I'm glad that we're going to go into the season and that he's going to be healthy. For him to get the end of the year and be able to play, that was big for his development. I know we have to bring him along and get him to grow at a rapid rate. We need him to be a good player and I think he will be. Coming out (of college), we felt really good about him. When we were in Chicago, he was being talked about with (Chicago Bears WR) Kevin (White). I feel like going forward with DeVante, I love the skill set, love what he can bring to this offense. For me, it's just going to be about developmental, making sure we bring him along as quickly as we can."
"I feel really good about it, at least from what I've seen on tape," Gase continues, talking about the offensive weapons as a whole. "It's just going to be about putting all of the pieces together. How are we going to use these guys and make sure that we are using them to their strengths? The thing that we are going to have to do a great job of is that we don't want to try to force guys to do something that they aren't good at. And it's trying to do it at a rapid rate. You're trying to figure out as fast as possible, what everybody does really well. That's why those 10 OTAs and the two mini-camps, you have to speed it up as fast as possible so when you hit training camp, you're really grinding on the things that are important to each individual guy."
The Dolphins have spent a lot of time working on the defense this offseason while hoping that Gase, who spent the last three years as an offensive coordinator, two with the Denver Broncos and one with the Chicago Bears, can retool the offense primarily with system changes and better play calling. Gase seems to like the pieces the team has, and now just needs to get to actually seeing the players working on the field.;