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Spaceballs — and other reasons why the Dolphins offense had its best camp under Gase

Wide receiver Danny Amendola has made a smooth transition from the Patriots’ offense to the Dolphins’ this summer.
Wide receiver Danny Amendola has made a smooth transition from the Patriots’ offense to the Dolphins’ this summer. dsantiago@miamiherald.com

There’s light speed.

There’s ridiculous speed.

And then there’s ludicrous speed.

The Dolphins want to go so fast this fall, they dent Rick Moranis’ helmet.

The reference, for those of you born in the past 30 years, is from Spaceballs, a Mel Brooks sci-fi spoof in which the villains can reach a dangerous, disorienting ludicrous speed.

And that’s what the Dolphins want from their offense this fall.

“I think we have a few different tempos we can play at,” Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “We can go in the huddle. We can play on the ball at a normal speed. Or we can go at what we call ‘ludicrous speed,’ where we really press the tempo. I think that’s really going to help us more than it has in the past. Change those tempos up.”

Credit Tannehill for even knowing the reference. He was born a year after Spaceballs was released.

But the terminology comes from Adam Gase’s time in Denver, where he worked with perhaps the game’s most famous Gen X’er, Peyton Manning. The name stuck.

The Dolphins hope the results do too.

Because as Miami wrapped up training camp under yet another scorching South Florida sun Tuesday, the sense has been and remains this: The Dolphins will only go as far as the offense generally, and Tannehill specifically, takes it.

The good news: The coaching staff believes that side of the ball is better at this point of the preseason than at any point in Gase’s three years with the team.

“There’s just a better feel. With Ryan, this is his third year in the offense,” Gase said. “He’s at mentally, a different level. He’s able to really help so many guys out. I think just a couple of the moving pieces we’ve had, those guys have done a good job picking it up. This, offensively, is not too far off from what Danny [Amendola] has already done.

“... I think Albert [Wilson] has done a really good job of grinding out the plays. Very prideful of making sure he’s not making mistakes on the field. It’s been a very good transition for us.”

Tannehill has been particularly effective on what Gase calls “on-the-ball” drills, which are more like a game than some of the situational reps the team practices. Tannehilll is able to play free and loose without overloading himself with too much information. And that allows him to play fast. Sometimes, ludicrously so.

“The main thing is to make sure he’s not taking on unnecessary hits,” Gase said. “There are times where I understand that he’s going to stand in there, going to deliver the ball. And there’s times where I understand there’s no hope of delivering the ball. That’s the point emphasis the last two years, since he got injured.”

Tannehil insists he trusts his twice-injured, once-surgically repaired left knee after testing it out all offseason, saying he doesn’t “even think about it” anymore.

But he has no desire whatsoever to go through that grueling rehab process again. That means his protection has to be good, which it has — for the most part.

There was a bad bust by rookie running back Kalen Ballage Sunday that would have led to a violent sack by Charles Harris in a game. Tannehill was so incensed, he kicked Ballage off the field, and continued to chew him out on the sidelines a short time later.

The exchange was notable because it was so rare. But Tannehill has really come out of his shell under Gase, and this year particularly.

“You don’t want to be an iron fist all the time,” Tannehill said. “At least I don’t. I like to pick my spots like you said and have a reason for everything that I do. I believe in Kalen. I know the talent that he has. He has every talent that we need him to have. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast. He catches the ball well. He can pass protect.

“I told Kalen after the fact, I just want him to have more urgency. We want him to help us. I know he can help us. But we have to know what we’re doing when we’re on the field, especially in pass protection. And I think he’s picked it up.”

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