Kelly: Miami Dolphins’ top-ranked offense has multiple areas where they seek to improve | Opinion

Year 1 of installing the Miami Dolphins offense was about learning the language, or as the coaches put it, knowing how to speak Spanish in Spain.

Year 2 was about taking ownership of Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel’s playcalls, putting a South Florida flavor on how this West Coast offense was constructed, and orchestrated, maximizing what it was capable of in 2023.

Year 3 is about evolving, adding new wrinkles, and metamorphosing into a unit that turns the volume up on what was already a pacesetter, the NFL’s top ranked offense in 2023.

“I’m excited to see where the evolution takes us next,” said tight end Durham Smythe.

While the rookies and newcomers have an expected learning curve, and an adjustment period, the hope is that there’s a ton of growth spawned from the carryover of numerous veterans on the roster.

The offensive linemen have gained more comfort with what Butch Barry, their position coach, wants from a technique standpoint, and should play together in concert, like an orchestra.

The Dolphins added two seam threat tight ends in Jonnu Smith and Jody Fortson Jr., adding a pair of bigger targets who might potentially help Miami improve the offense’s red zone execution.

“What’s fun about this offense is it changes so much in an evolving manner every year. It keeps it fresh,” said Smythe, who delivered a career high in receptions, pulling down 35 passes for 366 yards. “I know everything we’re doing in terms of terminology and movements, but there are always going to be new wrinkles that keep it fresh for us who have been here a couple years now.

“I’m excited to see where the evolution takes us next.”

Raheem Mostert and the rest of Miami’s tailbacks are working to improve their route running because he warned that the offense might incorporate the tailbacks more in the passing game.

Just imagine Mostert and De’Von Achane both on the field, and one of those speedsters going into motion before the snap.

Talk about creating conflict for defenders on the field.

“To expect the same, if not more growth from your game each year, I don’t think that’s crazy,” said McDaniel, whose Dolphins offense ranked sixth (364.5 yards per game) in the NFL in 2022, and first in 2023, averaging 401.3 yards per game.

And the process begins with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who owns a 32-19 record, and is entering his fifth season as an NFL starter, and third in McDaniel’s offense.

Tagovailoa has lost about 10 pounds with the hope that it would make it more mobile, and fluid in his movement.

Where that will lead the Dolphins only the football gods know, but the goal is for Tagovailoa to be better at making off-script plays.

But mastering what’s on the script is a critical first step, and Tagovailoa is almost there.

Keep in mind that Tom Brady spent 18 years in the same offense with the New England Patriots.

And if we want to be a little more grounded in our comparison, not comparing Tagovailoa to one of the greatest of all time, then how about we point out Drew Brees running the same Saints offense for 15 years?

“All I’ve seen is his game progress,” McDaniel said of Tagovailoa, who led the NFL in passer rating in 2022 and passing yards thrown for in 2023. “In Year 3 we got to step back and assess not just the things he liked, and looked comfortable with. What are some things he hasn’t liked, or looked comfortable with in the past?”

Gaining a level of comfort with those plays is how Miami can turn up the volume on last season’s production.

McDaniel said he’s also challenging the staff on how the team “verbalizes” plays.

“It’s about our connectivity with how we see things,and what we’re trying to do with different assignments,” McDaniel said. “That can always get cleaner.”

However, there have been some challenges.

McDaniel admits there hasn’t been a practice this offseason where Miami’s top three receivers, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Odell Beckham Jr., the newest addition to offense, have been on the field together yet.

But he’s in no rush.

These OTA practices are giving the Dolphins an opportunity to work on specific packages, variations of plays that might become staple items in McDaniel’s offense.

“Guys are going in motion a lot faster. We changed a couple shifts and motions this offseason, so far, and that’s going to help give us the advantage,” said Mostert, a Pro Bowl selection who set a franchise record by scoring 21 touchdowns last season. “We just got to get that chemistry down and timing right and once we get it going you see what this offense can do.”