Square One: Five Things That Dan Campbell Will Change for the Dolphins

It is hard to treat Week Six like the start of a new season, but that is exactly what the Miami Dolphins must do against the Tennessee Titans. While the foundation of the team is the same, the presence of interim head coach Dan Campbell will bring plenty of changes for the Dolphins. We won’t know exactly what will happen until Sunday, but needless to say this will not be the same Dolphins’ team that we saw through the first four weeks of play.

Oklahoma drills, tug of war, new locker assignments, and Michael Jordan inspirational videos. These are four things that we would not have previously associated with a week of prep for the Miami Dolphins. It seems that Dan Campbell is not just prepping the team for a new opponent, but for a new start. The Dolphins’ headquarters in Davie already feels vastly different, but we are still unsure as to how different the final product will be on the field.

We do not yet have a definitive answer as to what Dan Campbell plans to change, but here are five things that I believe he will do to attempt to lead a complete shift of the outlook for the Dolphins’ 2015 season.

5) Establish a Running Game, Or Die Trying:

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This one was obvious. If you look up “physicality” in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of Dan Campbell. The Dolphins will enter this game with a clear dedication to running the football, and I believe that Campbell will insist that the team stick with their rushing attack even if it struggles early.

Campbell said this week that he plans on altering the team’s blocking method to avoid leaving linemen on an island. This will allow the team to do a better job in both phases of the game, but is clearly a move designed to signal the physicality required to play the type of football that Campbell wishes to.

One of the biggest problems with Joe Philbin was the inability to commit to running the football, even when the team couldn’t convert. No, it doesn’t make sense to blindly pound the ball up the middle, or just cross your fingers and pray on end-arounds. But the team does need to make sure that they diversify and balance out their playbook. I feel that Dan Campbell’s attitude is well suited towards the determination required to establish a consistent ground attack.

4) Unleash the Beasts on Defense:

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No, Dan Campbell is not a defensive coach. However, he is an offensive coach with a philosophy that can be applied on the other side of the ball.

Campbell believes in physical domination, and winning games by beating the man across from you. That is why he and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo will most likely look to set up the key players on the defense to make plays regardless of scheme.

It always felt like Kevin Coyle was too focused on play design and complexities on defense. Whether they were too simple or too complex (because it changed with each week), they just didn’t work. Campbell and Anarumo will work to avoid getting hung up on schemes, and should be prepared to do whatever they can to let Ndamukong Suh, Reshad Jones, Olivier Vernon, and Cameron Wake make plays.

Dan Campbell was quoted as saying that he wants to awaken the sleeping beast within this football team.

That freelancing thing that Suh was reportedly doing earlier this season? It shouldn’t be a problem when he is rushing the passer or attacking the ball carrier on every single play, which I fully expect to be the case with Campbell giving order to Lou Anarumo. Coach Campbell wants to dominate, and domination is what Ndamukong Suh did best for four years in Detroit.

3) Struggles Will Continue for Linebackers

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While it couldn’t get any worse for the Dolphins’ linebackers, it probably isn’t going to get any better.

There is plenty of reason for hope within the team under a new coach, but between Campbell and Anarumo, there really isn’t any expertise regarding the linebacker position. Anarumo has spent the last twenty years as a defensive backs coach, and he will have his work cut out for him at that position for Miami (even though Coyle was also a defensive backs coach before the Dolphins hired him). It does not seem like Miami’s new defensive coordinator, or head coach, will be able to fix the team’s issues at the linebacker position.

I expect Tennessee (and everyone else on Miami’s schedule) to continue attack the team’s weakness at the linebacker position through play-action and tight end heavy offensive game plans. The team doesn’t have anyone who can help with coaching the linebacker corps, a group that has struggled for years in Miami.

I wonder why we have struggled since swapping out Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett for Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe. God I miss Dansby and his gargantuan elbow brace.

2) Multiple Tight End Sets:

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(Robert Deutsch/USA Today)

Dan Campbell is not a diverse head coach. He hasn’t coached defense at all. He hasn’t even coached quarterbacks, running backs, or offensive linemen. But I’ll be damned if the man can’t get the tight ends ready to play.

The Dolphins will have Dion Sims back for the first time since Week One, which will allow them to run more multiple tight end sets. This could have been done with Stoneburner, but Sims fits the Dolphins’ needs much better. Since joining the team, he has stood out as a very promising blocking tight end. Between his physicality, and Jordan Cameron’s pass catching talent, Campbell will have a multi-dimensional tight end group to work with.

The ability to leave a tight end in to chip linemen or block linebackers will be invaluable for Miami as a team that struggles to protect the quarterback. Having Dion Sims in the game could also improve the rushing attack, with an extra man in the game to help open up lanes. Overall Sims will be a big help for Miami, and should allow Dan Campbell to fall back on his strengths and improve the offense through various sets to utilize the team’s tight ends.

1) Scheme VS Philosophy:
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Joe Philbin and his staff always seemed too concerned with scheme. The play designs and specific methods of decision making all fell into a cookie cutter mold, which resulted in a one-dimensional unit. Miami never caught anyone by surprise, because the coaches were too caught up in sticking to their scheme.

No, scheme is not a bad thing. But when you are wasting talented players because they don’t fit into the scheme you employ, you will end up squandering a very good roster. Coaches need to establish an identity, but not become consumed by that identity. Joe Philbin followed the traditional method of a scheme, which tells you what you need to do in order to succeed in multiple phases of the game. The difference between scheme and philosophy is that a philosophy tells you what you want to do, but does not limit how you are going to do it.

Dan Campbell enters this game with a clear philosophy. He wants to establish dominance through physicality, and wants his team to play with every ounce of energy they have. This is a philosophy. Hard-nosed football can be the goal of a scheme too, but a scheme limits how you would achieve it. Dan Campbell will be willing to do whatever it takes to implement his philosophy. He will not use a scheme to determine whom he plays, but will simply send out the best players to put the team in a position to win games.

Joe Philbin could never get the Dolphins to win using his scheme. But Dan Campbell will have a chance to bring the team to victory with his philosophy.

The Skinny:

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There is excitement in uncertainty. The Miami Dolphins’ fan base has no idea what they will see this Sunday. Really, nobody other than the players knows what the final product of the team’s coaching changes will be. The Dolphins will have the element of surprise going for them this Sunday against the Titans, and will hopefully make the necessary changes on the field in order to come out with a victory.

Whether or not Dan Campbell has the X’s and O’s knowledge to lead this football team to victories, we certainly know that the players will carry themselves very differently when they step out onto the turf this Sunday. Hopefully it translates to a win.

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