The Miami Dolphins’ firing of first-year offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea earlier this offseason came as something of a surprise.
Granted, the Dolphins offense didn’t exactly rack up the points, but how many coaches could find success with such a roster? The offense also showed a clear upward trend, going from averaging a putrid 8.4 points in the team’s first five games to 19.0 points in the middle six and 25.8 points in the final five.
Plus, O’Shea had been brought over with head coach Brian Flores from the New England Patriots, where he was previously the wide receivers coach. Teams hiring Patriots assistants as head coaches typically try to emulate the Patriots in every way possible.
Well, turns out the reason for O’Shea’s firing was pretty simple: He brought too much of the Patriots with him.
Fired Dolphins OC’s playbook was reportedly too complex
According to a report from the Miami Herald, O’Shea was let go by the Dolphins after friction with teaching the Dolphins’ young roster a playbook with the complexities typically seen in Foxborough. Multiple players reportedly supported the decision to swap out O’Shea for veteran coordinator Chan Gailey.
From the Herald:
One player described the situation on offense last season as a “[expletive] show,” noting O’Shea tried to teach an offense that was too complex for a young team and that teaching/instruction during film study was a “disaster.”
As one player noted, O’Shea tried to run plays that were used in New England, which was predictable because O’Shea had spent the previous 10 seasons there as wide receivers coach.
Additionally, a player reportedly said O’Shea made the situation worse by trying to install especially complicated elements of the Patriots offense used by Tom Brady and Patriots offensice coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Obviously, there is a bit of a difference between a 20-season veteran like Brady and the younger players of a rebuilding team. The reported result: confusion among those players and complaints that O’Shea wasn’t doing a good job of teaching the playbook.
One player told the Herald that veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick ended up taking more active role running the offense. The Harvard graduate reportedly had no major issues understanding the playbook.
All of this seems to track with what you’d expect of attempts to export the Patriots Way. The Patriots are somewhat infamous when it comes to working young players into their offense. Last season, their first-round draft pick, wide receiver N’Keal Harry, and third-round draft pick, running back Damien Harris, saw a combined 21 touches, though Harry spent part of the season on injured reserve.
However, it’s easier to have faith that the complexities are worth it when Bill Belichick is in charge and Brady is calling the shots.
The Dolphins offense will likely only be younger next season after drafting Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick and offensive tackle Auston Jackson with the 18th overall pick. We’ll see if a simpler offense ends up working out.
Meanwhile, O’Shea didn’t have much trouble finding a new job, landing with the Cleveland Browns as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator under new head coach Kevin Stefanski.
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