The Miami Dolphins have spent the majority of training camp working on the passing game, putting the ground attack on the back burner as the team tries to find their passing rhythm while protecting their running backs from unnecessary hits. The passing game as it has been seen thus far, however, has not been one focused on “down-field” throws, but rather shorter, quicker throws to get the ball into the hands of the receivers.
It has led to questions from reporters over the “dink-and-dunk” style of the Dolphins. Is this what should be expected? Where are the deep passes designed to gain big chunks of yards?
This week, head coach Adam Gase, who will also serve as the offensive play caller, took aim at the idea that Miami is doing something wrong in being a team focused on the short passing game.
“The whole league is 10 yards and under,” he explained when asked if the short passes are from the play calling, or if it is quarterback Ryan Tannehill checking down to the short passes. “That’s what it is. Nobody is going down the field like that. There is one team that does it really, maybe two – Pittsburgh and Arizona. They hold onto the ball and they chuck it down the field. More teams than not, it is 10 yards and under. That’s where all the passing game is. The d-ends are too good. If you want to stand back there and have your quarterback get his brains beat out, go at it.”
Gase, when serving as the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos in 2013 and 2014, as well as the Chicago Bears’ offensive coordinator last year, was a coach who specifically designed his offense to disguise the weaknesses around the group, while accenting the strengths. For the Dolphins, the weakness over the past four years has been the offensive line, which has allowed Tannehill to be sacked 184 times, the most of any quarterback in the league over that time.
Miami addressed the line with the addition of Laremy Tunsil with the 13th overall draft pick this past April, but it is still an area that needs to be watched this summer as the team continues through training camp and into the preseason schedule, beginning with tonight’s first game, a road trip to face the New York Giants.
“I’m fine with it,” Gase said of the offense looking short rather than going vertical. “I’m the one scripting the plays and calling the plays. I had a little success with what we do. There’s a time and a place (to get vertical) but there’s also a time and a place not to get sacked 60 times in a year too.”
Gase, who has already shown that he is willing to stand up to the media when they try to turn everything into a negative, clearly recognizes the weakness of the Dolphins’ line in giving Tannehill the time to look deep. He is working to disguise that weakness by turning the offense to its strength: getting the ball into the hands of players like Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker, letting those guys make plays happen. If the team has to primarily look to short, quick passes, Gase is going to design that kind of offense. Will they look deep? At times.
But, at the end of the day, Gase sees the NFL has a 10-yards-and-under league, and, if that is what it takes, he is going to dink-and-dunk his way to wins. And, he is fine with that.