Bill Lazor doesn’t have an offense. Well, technically he does but recently some of his players complained that the offense lacked an identity. On October 12, Connor Orr wrote an article for NFL.com entitled “Dolphins frustrated by lack of identity on offense”. In that article players cited frustration at being underutilized, Tannehill not being allowed the flexibility to audible, Lazor’s “abrasive” tenor and the offense’s emphasis changing from week to week. At the time the Dolphins were 5-4. Many teams would love to have such problems. Initially, these read like criticisms of concern. However, given further introspection I am intrigued by Lazor and as a Raider fan I hope the Raiders take a serious look at him.
Let’s summarize what’s going on in Miami. Mike Wallace, who has largely been considered a high-priced free agent bust, has been used more as an intermediate WR and in doing so has increased his efficiency, according to PFF (“Miami Dolphins at a crossroads heading into a crucial showdown”, Jeff Darlington, NFL.com, 11/12). Tannehill, who has also had the word “bust” swirling around him, has been handcuffed but has exponentially increased his QB rating over the last 8 weeks to average 102.2 up from 81.7, in 2013. Lazor’s disposition has been described “abrasive” and is rubbing some members of the offense the wrong way. Lazor was born in Scranton, PA and educated at Cornell (Think hard-scrabble meets high processing thinker). I’d think he could lose patience with player’s who don’t “get” what he’s doing. Lastly, the criticism which doesn’t seem like a criticism the most to me is the week to week emphasis on different aspects of the offense. Um, that’s called game planning. That’s exactly what Bill Belichick, who is considered the game’s greatest strategist, does; attack opponent’s weaknesses via the game plan, sometimes with a heavy running game, and at other times with a heavy aerial attack. The old adage of “this is my offense and this is what I do and players must conform” is antiquated and gets coaches fired. The new paradigm is to determine what player’s do best, even if it’s not what they may think they do best, and put them in the best position to win while also attacking the opponent’s weaknesses. These are not criticisms as much as it is selfish player’s used to being the focus of the offense. Bill Lazor doesn’t have “an offense” and that might be a good thing.
“Ryan (Tannehill) has more options than a lot of quarterbacks that we’ve coached,” Lazor said. “Now, we do certain things differently. Some of them are what you would call verbal audibles, some of them are right at the snap, some of them are built in options. It’s how we choose to play football. Ryan has the ability to handle those things and in my opinion does them very well. I think that’s one of his strengths. He uses all of the different options, whether they be audibles or built in options to get the ball distributed around the field. That’s probably when we’ve played our best offensively, is when he’s used all of those things.”-Bill Lazor addressing concerns that Tannehill isn’t allowed to audible (“Bill Lazor denies players are unhappy with the offense” – Kevin Patra, 11/17)
Big named coaches are hard to land, especially for Oakland. Historically, the Raiders have always taken chances on young emerging coordinators and paid them pennies. At 42, Lazor is young but he has worked with some of the greatest innovators in the game (Reeves, Holgren, Gibbs & Kelly) and Miami’s offense has experienced success in critical areas. As of this writing the Dolphins lead the NFL in red-zone scoring attempts at 4.9 attempts per game, although the Dolphins aren’t scoring TDs that still an impressive statistic. Conversely, the Raiders are averaging 1.4 red zone visits per game. A long-time QB coach, Lazor has been credited for the emergence of Nick Foles in his first season as the Eagles QB and now Tannehill. Imvho, Lazor is exactly the kind of young innovative mind the Raiders require. Good Luck, Raider Nation.