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Shula Defends Dolphins’ Offense

December 17, 1996

MIAMI (AP) _ Former Miami coach Don Shula gets a chuckle over Jimmy Johnson’s decision to scrap the Dolphins’ playbook that brought so much success to so many.

Shula told ESPN in a broadcast shown before the Dolphins faced Buffalo on Monday night that his playbook has won at least six Super Bowls and a national college championship.

``That playbook won a lot of football games for a lot of people,″ Shula said. ``It won a lot of football games for the Colts and Dolphins.″

Johnson last week decided to pare down the Dolphins’ playbook for the game against the Bills, and will throw it away all together next season. Miami’s inconsistency this season on offense forced the move.

Shula said that Chuck Noll, one of his assistants in Baltimore, took the playbook to Pittsburgh and won four Super Bowls. Howard Schnellenberger also used it at the University of Miami when the Hurricanes won their first national championship 1983.

Johnson took over for Shula this season when the NFL’s winningest coach retired. He decided to keep the playbook because Miami’s offense was always rated at the top of the league, but this season the Dolphins have struggled.

They have scored just 14 points in two games and were ranked 20th in the NFL in total offense going in to Monday night’s game.

``Don Shula is a great football coach. He had a great career,″ Johnson said. ``The only thing is, I’m the coach now. I have to do what’s right for this football team.″

It’s also not the first time Johnson has thought better of using the Shula playbook.

Mike Shula brought his father’s offense to Dallas when he was hired by Johnson in 1989 as the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator. It produced an NFL-low 204 points and got the younger Shula demoted.

Johnson changed the Cowboys’ offense in 1991, and Dallas’ production swelled to 342 points.

The Dolphins have struggled with the complicated playbook because of a number of rookies and newcomers, Johnson said last week.

``Our style of offense requires experienced, veteran people, and that day is gone,″ he said.

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