Breer’s Latest: Dolphins, Gronk, Cowboys, Texans

Dan Campbell‘s decision to jettison both his coordinators, with OC Bill Lazor being the second to go, as an interim coach likely stemmed from the tough-minded instructor’s dismay at the Dolphins being referred to as a “finesse team in a power division,” Albert Breer of reports.

Miami ranks 27th in rushing yards per game but sixth in yards per carry at 4.6 and attempted just 23 combined runs the past two games. This led to a sense that Lazor was losing his players, per Breer.

Lazor and Ryan Tannehill began to have a less-than-ideal QB-OC relationship, and Breer now notes Campbell will take a more involved role in the Fins’ offensive approach. So, Lamar Miller will probably see more touches going forward.

Here are some more notes from the veteran NFL scribe.

  • Rob Gronkowski‘s league-high five offensive-pass interference penalties stem from teams alerting officials to the Patriots‘ brand of pick routes against an increasing amount of man coverage, with Gronk’s size making separation at route stems noticeable. Defensive coordinators are torn on the degree of the All-Pro tight end’s level of infraction, with one saying “He pushes off on every play” and another categorizing the physical performer’s penalties as a product of his size. “It just looks extreme with him, because of size and strength. A 180-pound dude pushing off is different [than] a 260-pound dude pushing off,” the anonymous DC told Breer. Another coordinator falls in the middle of these characterizations, noting the Patriots’ volume of pick routes makes it logical they should be on the receiving end of the most OPI flags.
  • With Tony Romo set for his age-36 season in 2016 and coming off more severe collarbone trouble, the Cowboys will explore taking a quarterback in the first round and signing a veteran, Breer reports. Romo being the starter for the foreseeable future gives the Cowboys some flexibility here by not having to reach for a player they don’t think can take the reins.
  • The Los Angeles relocation project continues to point toward the Chargers and Rams, with Breer noting Dean Spanos carries the political capital in the owners’ eyes and Stan Kroenke possessing the finances to make this transition work.
  • Bill O’Brien‘s cultivating a reputation as a players’ coach in leading the Texans, permitting open social media use and organizing a 12-player leadership council, Breer notes. Houston’s now tied for first in the AFC South with Indianapolis, but as far back as the Texans’ blowout loss in Miami in late October, players were behind O’Brien. “He’s not the problem. Very cool coach to play for and everyone enjoys the way he treats us,” one Texan told Breer after that 44-26 defeat.
  • In projecting franchise tag figures for next year, Breer also gives predictions of players potentially being tagged. Moving past long-rumored names like Von Miller and Muhammad Wilkerson, NFL executives told Breer players like Josh Norman, Janoris Jenkins, Russell Okung, Mike Daniels and Kirk Cousins are tag candidates.
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