Dolphins offense has pieces of Chip Kelly scheme
It wasn't long before NFL teams wanted a taste of Chip Kelly's offense. While there was initial condescension from old-school hard liners like Bruce Arians, several offensive coordinators quickly implemented some of the Eagles coach's concepts during his first season. By the offseason, one of Kelly's assistants was already hired to run an offense.
It wasn't long before NFL teams wanted a taste of Chip Kelly's offense.
While there was initial condescension from old-school hard liners like Bruce Arians, several offensive coordinators quickly implemented some of the Eagles coach's concepts during his first season. By the offseason, one of Kelly's assistants was already hired to run an offense.
The Dolphins brought quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor to Miami to inject some life into an offense that was 26th in the league in yards per play and points. Lazor had worked in various systems and run one of his own in college at Virginia, but a significant amount of his scheme was based on what he had learned under Kelly.
Miami's record remained the same (8-8) in 2014, but the offense improved both in yards per play (16th) and points (11th). Lazor installed some zone read to take advantage of Ryan Tannehill's athleticism, but he also added some of Kelly's "package" plays that contributed to a six-point increase in the quarterback's completion percentage.
But the changes by the fourth game of this season weren't enough to save head coach Joe Philbin, who was fired after the Dolphins' 1-3 start. Lazor remained, but tight ends assistant Dan Campbell became the interim coach and some of the Kelly-influenced aspects became less a part of the offense.
The Dolphins, who travel to face the Eagles on Sunday, won their first two games under Campbell in blowouts, but were similarly beaten badly in the next two games. Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said that he still sees a lot of the familiar in Lazor's offense, but Kelly said there aren't many similarities.
"I think [Lazor] has his offense that's probably more similar to what he was doing when he was at Virginia than what he was doing when he was here," Kelly said Wednesday.
Tannehill said Lazor had him watch a lot of Eagles film when he first came aboard last spring. He estimated that 25 percent of the offense was based on Kelly's first-year system. But just as the Eagles' scheme has evolved over the last three years, so has the Dolphins' offense.
"I would say it's got an influence," Campbell said via conference call. "I wouldn't say it's a majority of what we do."
Since Campbell took over, Miami has run less tempo and Tannehill has taken more snaps from under center as opposed to in the shotgun. The Dolphins ran only 29 plays from under center in their first four games but 20 in Campbell's first game against the Titans.
Campbell may be only 39, but he could be described as a traditionalist. He played under Bill Parcells and has considered the Hall of Fame coach a mentor of sorts. Parcells, of course, employed a ball-control offense that might have been the philosophical opposite to Kelly's fastbreak one.
But Rome wasn't built in a day - or its empire destroyed in that amount of time - and it's unclear whether Campbell will eventually overhaul the offense. So even with the minor tinkering, there is still some of Kelly in the Dolphins' scheme.
"We see a lot of familiar plays that we've seen over time and that we practice all offseason," Davis said. ". . . He's got a running quarterback . . . so he's got the mobility piece. . . . There's a big bubble-screen element to it, so after the zone-read is read out, they can still hit a bubble at the end. So it's a really dynamic offense with shifts and motions on every play."
Tannehill isn't running nearly as much as he did last season. While some were scrambles, he averaged 3.5 carries and 5.6 yards per rush in 2014. This year, he's averaging only 1.9 carries and 3.1 yards.
But the threat to run - unlike with the Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford - remains. The Dolphins still run an assortment of plays that give Tannehill the post-snap option to hand off, keep or throw.
Those package plays are typically called when the Dolphins go up-tempo. There isn't an audible function because speed is the objective.
"I think it's run a lot like ours," Davis said. "There's pieces he does. He's got a lot of read options, like when you read, you can hand it, you can give it, you can keep it and you can throw the bubble."
Tannehill said there are plays in the offense that he can check out of, but it's clear he doesn't have the playbook at the line of scrimmage. Davis has said a quarterback with that capability is the hardest to defend.
While there has been less no-huddle, Campbell said that one of the changes he has made has been upping the tempo in practice to resemble game conditions. Kelly's innovations have made his practices arguably the fastest in the NFL.
"Bill's always talked about how fast they went when he was in Philly," Campbell said. "I wouldn't say that we go that fast because I know how fast they go over there."
Kelly's practice advancements may end up being copied more than any of his offense. There still isn't an NFL team that goes anywhere near as fast as the Eagles. But you occasionally can see his influence on offenses other than Miami's.
Bill Musgrave ran his own system for years before replacing Lazor as quarterbacks coach last year. But after being hired by the Raiders this offseason, he brought a chunk of Kelly's offense to Oakland.
"The majority of what we're doing is Chip Kelly stuff," Musgrave said recently. "Shotgun runs. Shotgun play actions."
And with Derek Carr at quarterback, the Raiders have gone from 32d in yards per play and 31st in points in 2014 to fifth and seventh, respectively, in both categories this season.