Daboll Has Dolphins in Attack Mode

Brian Daboll, the Dolphins' first-year offensive coordinator, would have faced a difficult enough job if he'd had the advantage of a normal NFL offseason. But given that organized team activities, minicamps, workouts and offseason team meetings were casualties of the NFL lockout, Daboll's task of rejuvenating the Dolphins' offense has been made all the more difficult.

It makes sense, then, that Daboll hasn't exactly taken things slowly at the start of training camp. Miami's offense in 2010 was among the worst in franchise history, but, if you believe the players, things will look far different in 2011. The Dolphins have spent the first part of training camp speeding through its offensive installation process and figuring out exactly where the team can best excel offensively.

Coach Tony Sparano said recently that he and his coaching staff must "figure out right away some of the things that you really want to get good at." That's because, of course, the team won't come close to installing its complete offensive playbook in time for the season opener against New England on Sept. 12.

"I mean, our playbook is about that big," Sparano said, holding his hands about a foot apart. "And there's no way we're getting anywhere close to that kind of install where if you had all the OTA's and the offseason - I mean this would be the third time around the horn for most of these guys ..."

Players have described the new offensive as anything from "explosive," which is how receiver Davone Bess termed it, to a spread-style "West Coast offense," which is how newly acquired running back Reggie Bush described it.

Throughout the first week of camp, the offense appeared sluggish - no surprise given the expected learning curve and the difficulties presented by the Dolphins' defense, which has the potential to be among the best in the league.

But on Sunday, during the team's first official scrimmage, the offense came alive. Quarterback Chad Henne threw three touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall, who'd been having a quiet camp to that point, and Bush showed a few flashes of what might be to come this season when he picked up some nice gains on pass receptions out of the backfield and from the slot.

During the scrimmage, the Dolphins' offense didn't much resemble one from 2010. For one thing, there were plenty of downfield passes - a lot of them. For another, the team mixed and matched its personal in a variety of packages. Sparano has said more than once this preseason he wanted the offense to feature more versatility and more interchangeable parts.

"I think I would say that we want to be a lot more in three wide-receiver sets," receiver Brian Hartline said. "Running out of it and passing out of it."

Miami's personnel, especially at the skill positions, seems set going forward. The Dolphins released quarterback Tom Brandstater and signed Kevin O'Connell, a former third-round draft pick of New England who's likely to be the No. 3 quarterback on the roster.

The Dolphins also in the past week added a pair of veteran offensive linemen - tackles Marc Colombo and Ray Willis. Both are expected to add depth to an offensive line that's still coming together.

Overall, though, less than two weeks into the preseason Daboll has to be happy with how the offense has progressed. Henne might have described it best: "We're definitely on attack mode," he said.


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