At this time last year, there wasn’t a glimpse of hope. Players had literally checked out. Coaches trying to motivate players to the best of their ability, but to be honest, they were more concerned about where they could potentially be playing next year. The fan base, like the team was lost. No Identity. No drive. A once promising traditional culture that was built by Don Shula, then passed to Dan Marino, then to Jason Taylor potentially had no one stepping up to grab the torch.
That torch, which burned so bright, once upon a time, was on its last flame. Jimmy Johnson, Dave Wannstedt, Jim Bates, Nick Saban, Tony Sparano, Joe Philbin and Dan Campbell all at one point had a chance to carry this team out of the darkness. At one time or another there was a slight glimmer of hope, which eventually faded.
Adam Gase was a highly recruited coach, however, the same can be said for all the aforementioned coaches listed above. Each one brought some sort of hype to the Dolphin fan base, which thought they had the mentality and drive to overcome all their previous fallen colleagues. At the end of the day, similar to the players of the Dolphins, the fans were left more questions than answers.
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This type of mentality or cloud that was hovering around this team can very quickly dissolve if the team was winning. But, the Miami Dolphins haven’t had a winning season since 2008. They haven’t been relevant since 2008 as well. Disarray in the front office, an organizational hierarchy that couldn’t be deciphered by a MIT PhD candidate. The Dolphins had to severely overpay for players that honestly didn’t deserve it, just to entice them to come and play in South Beach.
Basically, the Dolphins were abysmal. On and off the field.
Now, the Adam Gase era has started in Miami.
This season, looked like it was going to be just another wasted year. A 1-4 start. The one victory, an overtime win against the worst team in the league right now. Didn’t actually see that once proud torch, shining any brighter in Miami. Fast forward to week 16, and Gase has completely turned this team around.
Let that marinate for a few minutes. All that doom and gloom that hovered around this franchise, looks like a thing of the past. A playoff berth – dare I say – is an actual reality. A reality of not actually just making the playoffs, but winning in December and January.
Implementing a cultural change of “next man up,” with a bunch of players that were not high priced free agents or top draft pick selections. Gase has built a culture of players wanting to play for each other and their coaches. There hasn’t been a time in Miami that that type of brotherhood existed. Actually, that’s not true – Tony Sparano built a similar team.
His first year as a head coach, Tony led the Dolphins to an AFC East Division crown and a home playoff game. Tony, built an offense that was catered to the strengths of his team, Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. At that time, he was a player’s coach.
Similar articles, that Gase is receiving now, were being published of Sparano. Which thereby leads to the million dollar question – do Dolphin Fans once again fall in love with a one year wonder?
The answer is yes.
The reasoning is the same reason, we gave Tony – hope. The Dolphins tried and wasted all those years under the previous regimens that it lead them nowhere. Gase has the pedigree to succeed in this league with a sub par roster. What happens, when he actually builds a competitive team of his choosing? Which is the biggest difference between Gase and Tony – Tony was only given the ingredients whereas Gase has a voice in picking which players he wants.
Reviewing the Dolphins roster, the best example of Gase culture can be found in the secondary. Reshad Jones, the Dolphins Pro Ball Player was lost for the season. The Dolphins prized free agent acquisition ( Byron Maxwell) was benched, leaving little to known players stepping up to fill those voids. Tony Lippett, Isa Abdul-Quddus , Xavien Howard, Bacarri Rambo are owning the secondary and actually performing at a level that was not expected.
Howard, a second round pick, is reminding fans of Patrick Surtain. Lippett, is leading the team in interceptions. Isa, is leading the secondary in tackles.
There are additional examples that are gaining more attention (quarterback and offensive line) but the attention to detail on a weighted scale across all positions is what Gase is showing. No one position is more important than the other, rather a shared responsibility.
That type of mentality is what is exciting the fan base, which is thereby gaining national media attention, which is then leading to a rejuvenated fan base. That hope, all started with signing Adam Gase as the Miami Dolphins Head Coach.