Was firing Adam Gase the right decision for the Miami Dolphins?
The Miami Dolphins are now searching for their 10th head coach since 2000 after firing Adam Gase Monday. The question is, did owner, Stephen Ross, make the right decision?
Gase went 23-26 in his three seasons in Miami including one postseason appearance in 2016. The problem is, after a 10-7 season in year one including the Wild Card playoff loss to the Steelers, Gase has gone 13-19 since and missed the playoffs for a second straight year.
And that 13-19 record was actually better than what it should have been, according to Pro Football Reference’s “Expected Win-Loss” formula.
The formula isn’t complicated. “This is an estimate of what the team’s record “should have been,” given the team’s points scored and allowed,” is what the site states.
In 2017, the Dolphins “expected” record was 5-11 rather than the actual 6-10. In 2018, it’s nearly the same with the “expected” record being 5.2-10.8, giving Miami a smidge over five wins. Instead, Gase’s squad went 7-9.
Some might say this gives more evidence for Gase keeping his job as he was able to get more wins despite being outperformed statistically. Others say the former head coach got a little lucky, and the Dolphins did not execute well in his three seasons.
Gase is known for his offensive mind and being a quarterback guru, but the numbers don’t show it.
The Dolphins averaged 19.9 points per game this season, 26th in the NFL. Miami was worse on the road, averaging 17.1 points away from Hard Rock Stadium which ranked 27th in the league.
Miami ranked 31st in total offense in 2018 after finishing with the 25th best offense in 2017. Of course, Jay Cutler was the quarterback in 2017 and Brock Osweiler manned the ship for five games in 2018.
The Dolphins averaged 289.9 yards per game, 31st in the NFL, and had five games this season where the offense didn’t eclipse 200 yards.
Even with Tannehill back for 11 of the 16 games in 2018, Miami averaged an abysmal 181.2 passing yards per game. The only teams worse were Buffalo and Arizona.
To put the final nail in the coffin, Miami picked up an average of 3.5 third downs per game. The 30.11 conversion percentage was the second-worst conversion rate in football.
It’s the same story on the defensive side of the ball. The Dolphins defense gave up 27.1 points per game this year, 27th in the NFL. And 32.5 points per game on the road, 30th in the league.
Miami’s 391.1 yards per game given up ranked 29th in the NFL. Only Cleveland, Kansas City and Cincinnati were worse. And lastly, opponents converted 42.86% of third downs against the Dolphins, the fifth-worst in the NFL.
Most will blame the defensive struggles on Defensive Coordinator, Matt Burke. How much of it is on Gase depends on one’s perspective.
In total, the Dolphins were outscored by 114 points and out-gained by 1,619 yards this season. Yikes.
However, despite all of this, Gase led Miami to the playoffs for just the second time in 15 years in 2016. Plus, he had the Dolphins playing meaningful football in December each of the last two seasons.
He coached all of 2017 without his starting quarterback who was playing the best football of his career before the ACL injury at the end of the 2016 season.
And the injury bug hit the Dolphins harder than ever in 2018 with 13 players on IR to finish the season. Eight of those 13 players were starters for Gase.
Remember, when the Dolphins were healthy, they were 3-0 this season. And finishing 7-9 despite all of the injuries could still be considered an accomplishment when looking at the entire landscape of the NFL.
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Atlanta and Carolina finished 7-9, Green Bay struggled to 6-9-1 and Minnesota barely finished above .500 at 8-7-1 despite all of these teams having their franchise quarterbacks for the whole season.
These are the facts. Feel free to make your own opinion with the information presented.
In my opinion, Stephen Ross made the right decision. And the last three weeks completely changed my mind.
I have been one of Gase’s biggest supporters throughout the season and six weeks ago I would have told you Gase should get an extension for still having this team in the playoff race despite all the injuries.
The loss to the Colts in week 12 started to change my mind and that might have been a turning point for Ross as well.
Craig Mish, of SiriusXM Radio, tweeted: “I’m told the falling out of Gase and Ross began after the loss to the Colts. Ross rarely chats after – tried to talk to Gase postgame & Gase from what I was told blew him off & told him “not now” (in less kind words)”.
The last three weeks pushed me over the edge. After the ‘Miami Miracle’, the Dolphins gave up 41 points to a Minnesota offense only averaging 22.5 points per game, scored just seven against Jacksonville at home and let the Bills destroy them in Buffalo.
That tells me this team never learned how to win on the road and the team checked out in the final two weeks. Gase lost the locker room. He was stubborn, didn’t learn from his mistakes and the offense became vanilla.
All the talk about changing the culture of the team and guys buying into what Gase was selling went downhill fast.
It’s now been reported that key players such as Cameron Wake and Kenyan Drake were not happy with Gase. And we all know he has made more enemies than anyone would like to admit over the last three years with Jarvis Landry and Jordan Phillips being at the top of that list.
It was simply time to move on. Do I think that Gase could still have Miami in the playoff race next season with a different quarterback and a healthier team? Sure. But that was the ceiling for Gase’s team.
I also like the way Ross has begun this rebuild. Reassigning Mike Tannenbaum to a role that has nothing to do with football operations, and promoting Chris Grier to the Vice President/football operations position was the right way to change things in the front office.
Everything runs through Grier now. Ross has not done this in the past. He has never given one man full control over all football operations, including the roster.
Grier reports to Ross. Everyone else reports to Grier. I believe that is how it should be.
“We have been operating under a philosophy that we had a good young roster that needed maybe free agents and draft choices and we would be very competitive. To keep operating under that philosophy would be the definition of insanity,” Ross said in his press conference.
I’d have to agree Mr. Ross. It’s about time you came to that realization.
Now, it’s all about selecting the right coach/QB. If Grier can’t get it right, none of this matters.