By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When the Miami Dolphins fired offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea just a couple of days after their playoff-disrupting win in Foxboro, it certainly seemed like a head scratcher. He had been hand-picked by head coach Brian Flores to accompany with him on the move to South Florida, and he helped guide the offense during a 5-4 stretch to end the season, after the year began with most pundits expecting Miami to be the worst team in NFL history.
Things were looking up. And then he was fired.
Now we know why.
Apparently, his offense was too difficult for players to understand.
That’s the consensus based on reporting in the Miami Herald by Barry Jackson, Adam H. Beasley, and Armando Salguero.
“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,'” the report said.
The report noted that O’Shea’s offense didn’t just take elements from New England’s offense; it took some of the most complicated aspects of the system that Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels have been operating for years.
“The Patriots offense is considered complex, but a player said O’Shea made the situation worse by trying to install especially complicated, advanced elements of the Patriots offense that Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels used,” the report said. “Those plays and terminology might be second nature to Brady in years 17, 18 and 19 of his career there but would confuse young Dolphins who were learning the Dolphins offense for the first time.”
Of course, as every NFL broadcaster has said every weekend for the past 15 years, Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard. Presumably, he should have been able to grasp the playbook. But when it came to the rest of the offensive players, they apparently didn’t feel as though they got proper instruction.
“O’Shea would go to Flores and say a player didn’t know the playbook, but some of the players felt O’Shea wasn’t doing a good job teaching it,” the report said.
While the Dolphins likely didn’t know in late December that they’d be drafting Tua Tagovailoa in April, the switch to Chan Gailey and a simpler offense seemed to be a move made with the intention of simplifying the offense for everyone involved.
Of course, up in New England where Brady and McDaniels were toiling last year, the Patriots’ offense didn’t exactly thrive. While injuries along the offensive line and a lack of talent at tight end didn’t help, the Patriots dipped significantly on offense, finishing 15th in the NFL in yards. Rookies N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers struggled to make an impact, and Julian Edelman was the only Patriots player to have a standout season on offense.
Up there, though, it was the quarterback who departed, while the offensive coordinator stayed. Perhaps McDaniels will take the tale of his former colleague as a cautionary tale when it comes to designing an effective offense for second-year QB Jarrett Stidham in 2020.