Jim McElwain: New Dolphins quarterback coach Charlie Frye can 'bring it all together' with Tua

Joe Schad
Palm Beach Post

Tua Tagovailoa will mesh splendidly with his new tutor, quarterbacks coach Charlie Frye, according to former Florida coach Jim McElwain.

"This is a fantastic hire," McElwain told The Palm Beach Post. "What you're going to find is a guy that does a great job of slowing the game down for the quarterbacks. The way he teaches is incredible."

McElwain is now head coach at Central Michigan, where Frye was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past two years. The Dolphins hired Frye even before choosing an offensive coordinator (or coordinators).

Jim McElwain

That hire gives us some insight into what coach Brian Flores may want to do more of in 2021. Let's take a dive into what Central Michigan has been doing.

"It's a multiple shift, multiple motion, trying to gain advantages in numbers," McElwain said. "And also with the inclusion in the RPO game. And probably more importantly, utilizing different tempos to keep defenses off balance a little bit. That's something that Charlie started to get a really good handle on, how to use those different things."

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback (9) Charlie Frye is the Dolphins' new quarterbacks coach.

Frye, a former star quarterback at Akron who played in the NFL for the Browns, Seahawks and Raiders, once worked with Tagovailoa at an Elite 11 camp. 

But McElwain revealed another tidbit of insight into why he and Tagovailoa should get along swimmingly. They speak the same language.

"Charlie can help Tua maybe with some of the verbiage," McElwain said. "There's going to be some familiarity because they still call the same things at Alabama that we did here (at Central Michigan). I think there's going to be some instant connect."

McElwain was once offensive coordinator at Alabama, though he did not coach Tagovailoa. But Frye's input into conversations with incoming Miami offensive coordinators George Godsey and Eric Studesville may prove valuable.

"He will do a fantastic job of bringing it all together," McElwain said. "And helping in any way that those play-callers want. And more than that, really find out what the quarterbacks are comfortable with. That's something that's very important when you go to put the plan together, is getting their input."

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McElwain explained why so many pro and college teams are using more shifts and motions than ever before. It's something Tagovailoa likes.

"Well, what you hope it does is when you put it in is really to recognize what they're trying to do, so you know what to do pre-snap," McElwain said. "You can create some matchups that maybe make defenses a little uncomfortable, depending on who those matchup guys are. It's harder to get zeroed in on a go-to guy or a playmaker when you move him around a little bit."

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback (9) Charlie Frye rolls out of the pocket. [BRIAN SPURLICK/USA Today Sports]

Frye, 39, began his coaching career at two high schools in the Orlando area. He also spent two years under McElwain at Florida as director of player development. 

"He did an outstanding job with helping our players that had opportunities to get into the NFL and really help kind of get them prepared for some of the things that are about to come," McElwain said. "He was a guy that had been there and seen a lot of sides of it."

McElwain was once quarterbacks coach with the Raiders. At a different time, Frye had been a Raiders quarterback. McElwain hired him at CMU after the strong recommendation of two former colleagues in Oakland.

"The equipment guy and our head trainer there at the Raiders actually called me about Charlie and spoke so highly of him," McElwain said. "Usually those are the kind of people that really know the character of somebody — and they were spot-on." 

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McElwain believes Frye will be an ideal fit to work with Tagovailoa. 

"I know the way he really interacts and really involves himself with those players is going to be something that will be very helpful," he said.

When Frye was drafted by the Browns in the third round in 2005, it was noted that he had very good accuracy, but not a howitzer of an arm. Of course, Tagovailoa is extremely accurate but has not yet demonstrated superior arm strength in the NFL.

McElwain says arm strength is no way close to the most important determining factor to the success of a quarterback.

"I think it's about timing, accuracy and catchable balls," McElwain said. "You see some guys with the real cannons and sometimes they're not catch-friendly. One of the things Charlie does when he breaks down the position, he indicates the kind of ball that needs to be thrown in certain situations. I think his experience obviously playing the position really helps. I think that will translate with the quarterbacks in that room."

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