Don’t Count Gase, Dolphins Out
By Sean Denison
After a rocky start to the season, questions remain whether or not Gase can replicate last year’s success when this year’s obstacles are much bigger.
Every week NFL teams go through the motions. Leading up to game day, coaches prepare players by devising a game plan, which they implement through several meetings and practices throughout the week. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes a team’s weekly preparations doesn’t go as planned. Sometimes, as the old saying goes, “life throws you a curveball.” This, as we know, isn’t rare in the world of sports. Players get hurt. Players get suspended. And hell, sometimes life just happens.
When faced with these circumstances, good coaches react professionally, make adjustments and, theoretically, man the ship. The bad ones, however, are overcome by the stress of the situation and, subsequently, allow their team to sputter down the road to mediocrity—as we saw during the Dolphins’ Philbin-era.
Adam Gase has faced many curveballs during his short tenure as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. And thus far, he’s done a good job answering them. Sure, he hasn’t knocked them all out of the park, but he has at least reached base.
Last year, in his first year as an NFL coach, Gase took over a lost team. After missing the playoffs for eight-straight seasons, the Dolphins were desperate for change. Gase brought that change. And with it, a new culture and identity was created in Miami.
He turned the Dolphins, a team plagued by injuries, into a smash-mouth football team with a “next man up” attitude. And despite the team’s early struggles, he led them to an unfamiliar place: the playoffs. Therefore, his first year—by normal standards—was great.
Fast-forward to this season and things haven’t gotten much easier for Gase. In fact, they’ve become more difficult—and oddly enough, more bizarre and embarrassing.
Just four games into the season, Gase has endured a lot. He lost his starting quarterback to a season-ending injury. He had a starting linebacker go AWOL before the first game. Fans have ridiculed him for leading an offensive unit that currently ranks last in just about every offensive category. And to top it off, he just had his offensive line coach, who he was personally close with, resign after a video surfaced on social media showing him sniffing a white substance before a team meeting.
Gase, much like last season, has addressed this year’s problems as they’re thrown at him. He brought in a familiar face, Jay Cutler, to lead the offense. He suspended Lawrence Timmons. And he hired a respected 12-year veteran, Dave DeGuglielmo, to takeover coaching the offensive line.
Of course, it’s still unclear whether these decisions will pan out. Cutler, who has career-lows in quarterback rating (74.8) and yards per attempt (5.4), is one of many reasons for the Dolphins’ offensive struggles. His mechanics, timing and delivery have been off all year.
Timmons, following his suspension, has played great, however. He has played with the same tenacity that has made him an ALL Pro the last ten seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, the Dolphins’ defense has been the biggest surprise of the season thus far, ranking fourth in the NFL in both run defense and points allowed, respectively.
DeGuglielmo, who comes to Miami with ample experience, has been a proven offensive line coach in the NFL. DeGuglielmo was the offensive line coach in New England for two years, and the Dolphins hired him as a senior offensive assistant. If anything, bringing in a new face can offer a new perspective to what’s been ailing the Dolphins’ offense.
We don’t know if Gase can replicate last year’s success, but he has this team (2-2) sitting prettier than where it was last year at this point (1-3). And despite the team’s early struggles, don’t be too quick to count them out, especially with Gase in charge.
Many of us, including me, did last year.