The Miami Dolphins head into the 2021 season with the third (and fourth?) offensive coordinator in three years under head coach Brian Flores. When Flores took over as the top coach for Miami in 2019, he brought with him Chad O’Shea from the New England Patriots, where he had been the wide receivers coach. After the season, O’Shea was fired and moved to the Cleveland Browns as the team’s wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator, while the Dolphins hired Chan Gailey out of retirement to head the offense for 2020. In January, Gailey resigned from the position, with Flores promoting running backs coach Eric Studesville and tight ends coach George Godsey to co-offensive coordinators. (Again, does that make it three or four offensive coordinators in three years?).
On Monday, Studesville and Godsey sat down separately with the media and discussed the offense and expectations for this season.
“We’ve both been here for the past two years going into now our third year together,” Godsey explained of how the “co-coordinator” title works. “We’ve had constant communication. I think that’s part of the role. Both of us are good communicators and both of our positions in the past have had to touch each other’s position, as far as communication with the line or communication with the quarterback. Obviously in the pass, tight ends play a little bit of a receiver role too at times. We do a good job of communicating. That’s the main requirement of the roles. That’s our job is to put the message together and then distribute it to the staff and then to the unit.”
“I think as far as game week and things like that, we haven’t gotten there,” Studesville remarked when asked how play calling will work this season, where one voice will be in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s helmet.
He continued, turning to the entire process of preparing for the week, “Where we are right now, and I think it’s going to be the same collaborative process, is we’re all involved in this. It’s not exclusive – ‘Lem’ (Offensive Line Coach Lemuel Jeanpierre) just does the run game or ‘Grizz’ (Wide Receivers Coach Josh Grizzard) just does the – we all have input in this. All of our players are involved in it. The backs for instance are involved in the run game, protections and the pass game. The receivers are involved in the run game. So we all have input as far as what’s going on and the entire offense is built to be a collaborative effort because all of us have to be able to speak the same language, to have the same desire and the same goal for that outcome, which is a high, effective performance on each individual play. And the only way that happens is if we’re all on the same page and we’re all having the same conversation. So right now, it’s building that way. That’s how we’ve done the playbook. That’s how we started with the players right now. That’s how we’re doing things in the walkthroughs and I don’t see that changing in any way going forward. It’s all collaborative. We’re all going to have input on it and that’s why I think you get a good staff and good football coaches together. That’s the advantage of it.”
Godsey was also asked about the two coordinators, but only one voice for the quarterback, to which he explained, “I think that’s just a part of it. There are certain times in the game where adjustments are needed and it’s good that we have two voices that are looking for that and not just glued into the specifics of your individual position. We’ve had some talks on that obviously but we’re going to keep it at that right now.”
He added, “We’re working through the offseason right now and we’ve had our discussions on that. We’re going to keep it at that, but I would say from not calling plays before, there is definitely some feedback that’s given to the coordinator. We have roles for that during the game for each position, so it’s a matter of making those adjustments, and we’ll get there when we kind of get there in the fall.
“We work well together. We meet every day together too. We spend a lot of time before we meet with the group together, digesting each other’s outlook, and then we put it into a plan. Obviously all of the other assistant coaches too have a big part of it. We see it as a collaborative effort. We have a lot of great minds on offense. There are a lot of bodies there too that can help us. We don’t see it as a two-person job. We see it more as a unit. That’s the way we’ve kind of approached it. We’ve had fun building this playbook and presenting it to the players. It’s a lot on everybody following and staying on track here during this time.”
As the Dolphins again change offensive coordinators, the thought process to promoting from within rather than hiring a new voice altogether seemed to support continuity of the offense, with tweaks made rather than an entirely new system. Early reports from the offseason training program, however, seem to indicate the team is tearing apart last year’s scheme and rebuilding it with something new.
“I think continuity is going to happen,” Studesville said of the new offense versus keep continuity for a young team. “We’re going to develop continuity going forward. Continuity doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to take something that we did last year and bring it forward. We’ve evaluated last year. We’ve looked at it and we’ve said these are things that we feel that our players are good at and maybe schemes that are good that we like, but moving forward we’re going to develop continuity. Continuity is not something you bring with you in a backpack. We have to develop that. Our players have to demonstrate consistency to develop that continuity to make us say ‘this is what we’re going to do.’ There are some things that are built into our offense – some terminology things, some schemes, some pass routes and all those things that we may have run in the past – and so if you call that ‘continuity,’ then that’s continuity. But we’re going to – again – we’re going to go back and we’re going to figure out what our guys do. We have to create continuity, not rest on our laurels kind of on things we did well in the past.”
Godsey was asked how much of the Dolphins’ 2020 offense was being brought back and how much is an offensive system being built from scratch. “I think that’s a good question because there are some things that we’ve done well and maybe some things that we need to improve on,” he replied. “That internal discussion as far as what plays we will continue to grow on and build off of, I think we’ll see some of that and then obviously some things that maybe we haven’t seen. It’s been a fun offseason. We’ve been busy.”
Both coordinators also discussed their vision of Miami’s offense for this season. “I think our job as an offense is to move the ball and score points,” Godsey said. “That’s our main goal and there are a lot of other factors that go into that. We have to be physical when we decide to run the ball, when we block and protection. We’ve got to protect the quarterback, we’ve got to protect the ball and then when the ball is thrown to us, we have to catch it and make plays. There are a lot of little factors – we call them little but there are a lot of factors that go into an offense being successful and moving the ball and scoring points.”
Studesville echoed those sentiments, saying, “I think we want this offense to be known as one that is successful and wins. At the end of the day, that’s what the outcome has to be, so we want to do whatever we can to put our players in position to be successful and score. That’s the general philosophy overview of it, but that’s what it is. Then there’s a lot of other subtopics in there certainly; but as an overview, we want our guys to be in position where we’re a complementary group to the defense, to special teams and we’re giving ourselves a chance to win.”
Godsey also stressed the team’s desire to be versatile and throw different schemes, looks, and play calls at an opposing defense. “We want to be able to play the game in multiple different modes, so if it’s a game where we need to run the ball, then we need to be able to block everybody and we need to block them effectively. Then obviously when it’s time to pass the football, which a lot of times in this game, in this league, it comes down to a two-minute situation where you need to throw the ball, we need to be able to protect the quarterback and throw to the open receiver,” he stated. “A lot of that seems simple but we’re going to have to get open versus different coverages, we’re going to have to identify different coverages from both a route-runner’s position, and also the quarterback. We’re going to have to play the game in multiple different ways to move the football. It’s a longer season too and you can’t just repeat the same thing each week.”
The Dolphins finish their first Organized Team Activities period of the offseason today. They will resume with another three-day period from June 1-3. They will also hold OTAs June 7-8 and June 10. The team’s mandatory minicamp will be June 15-17.