OXNARD, Calif. — Starting this season a week later than planned, the Dolphins are eager to make up for lost time in more ways than one.
They’re basically warning the Los Angeles Chargers of what’s to come in Sunday’s game: no chance for a breather.
Like last season, the Dolphins enter the season hungry to show what they can do with a no-huddle offense.
Unlike last season, they believe they’re now prepared to actually pull it off.
Coach Adam Gase said so when he explained that having a quarterback who can run an up-tempo offense is nice, but there’s a lot more to it than Jay Cutler’s experience in this league and in Gase’s system.
“It’s really everybody,” Gase said. “You have to evaluate it as a group more than anything. When you get into a situation where the quarterback feels comfortable but then you have 10 other guys that it’s hard with, you really have to go away from it.”
Which is exactly what happened last season when the Dolphins first met the Pittsburgh Steelers. If that game rings a bell, it’s because it was the turning point in a season that eventually led to the playoffs.
“Last year we just got into a situation where we needed to settle everything down and really keep learning what we were doing and get better at that,” Gase said. “We just had so many young players it was probably a little much for us at that time. As the season wore on, we got better at it when we had to do it.”
Now that this is Year 2 under Gase, he doesn’t expect such a learning curve. Neither does offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen, who figures up-tempo is the best way to deal with Chargers defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa.
“It’d be important this week that we can play some up-tempo and keep those guys breathing hard,” Christensen said.
The no-huddle requires Cutler to call plays at the line of scrimmage. Under typical conditions, road teams might have to resort to hand signals because of crowd noise, but this game will be in the intimate, 27,000-seat StubHub Center, home of Major League Soccer’s L.A. Galaxy. So perhaps noise won’t be an issue.
Another element at work is keeping down-and-distance manageable.
“We can’t put ourselves in second-and-11 and third-and-12 and those kinds of things where they can tee off,” Christensen said. “We’ve got to make them play the run.”
Chances are there will be times the Dolphins wish to slow down, certainly if they get a lead. But overall, Cutler and Gase aren’t the only ones eager to test fast-forward mode.
“We’re not really a huddle team,” receiver Jarvis Landry said. “We’re a no-huddle team that decides to huddle when we want to. That’s a better way to put it.”