Adam Gase is not happy.
And he has every right to feel that way, after agreeing to give 11-year veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons a two-year contract that is almost fully guaranteed, praising his leadership qualities and his drive to always work hard, only for Timmons to go AWOL before their first game of the season, and all without even a good explanation.
Or so we assume.
We know what he did, as TMZ reported that he was found at the airport and - presumably - was going to board a flight to California to visit his wife and kid. Why he did that, or why he felt the need to do so, we still don't know.
Timmons may have some underlying mental issues that only the Steelers were aware of, which could explain why they let him walk after being a staple of their defense for so long, or maybe Timmons had some other reason for deciding to take off.
But clearly, Adam Gase felt that his reasons for leaving weren't worthy of leaving the team right before game time, and his comments to the media were a clear indicator of just how livid Gase was - and is - with the team's top linebacker.
His answers were short, quick, and to the point. The most lengthy answer he was willing to give regarding Timmons was when he was asked if he expected Timmons to play the next game after disappearing for the first one.
“I haven’t even gotten through Step 1 yet." he said on Monday. "We kind of got in a little late last night so I’m kind of dealing with the guys that played.”
And there is where you can see the underlying message. The guys that played. As in, not Lawrence Timmons. Gase does not seem to care what happened with Timmons, the fact of the matter is, he didn't show up to work, and that sort of behavior is intolerable in this new Dolphins regime. Adam Gase has two rules: be on time, and play hard. Timmons violated both, and how does he tolerate it?
"What do you think?'' Gase said. "I've got two rules. It's not hard.''
Intolerable. Joe Philbin is not the head coach anymore, there is no one who is bigger than the team, and in a way - several ways in fact - that is a good thing.
Gase then took the next step, as the team announced on Tuesday that they had suspended Lawrence Timmons indefinitely, which in simpler terms, means that he won't be around for a maximum of the next four weeks, as per the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement).
As more and more information comes out, the situation becomes more and more bizarre. ESPN's Adam Schefter's reported on Monday that whatever was wrong with Timmons was checked out by team doctors - which indicates that there is something wrong with him. The idea of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) - which is a degenerative brain disease commonly found in NFL athletes - was thrown around, but it was also soon dismissed.
Later, Schefter was told that whatever was wrong with Timmons, he's "doing much better," but Schefter was also told that "no one has ever seen anything like it."
Foreboding, isn't it?
At this point, the question revolves around what the Dolphins should do next. They can only ignore Timmons for a maximum of four weeks, and then he either has to return to the team - which the players have stated they would welcome him back with open arms, or Miami has to release him. Perhaps he could be placed on injured reserve if doctors can pinpoint an injury that would keep him from playing, but no matter what, this situation isn't going away. Eventually, a decision on Timmons will have to be made, a permanent one.
But what is it Gase is really concerned about? Is it Timmons' possible mental health issues, or is it the fact that - regardless of what and why - Timmons defied his authority? Most people are focusing in on the fact that Timmons "quit" on his team, that what he did was "selfish," and has no place in what is being called the "New Miami," where players don't have free rein over the locker room like in the Philbin era.
No one is denying that what Timmons did is wrong, and is almost unheard of in the NFL today. But if we take a step back and examine the situation from a more neutral perspective, is what Timmons did really that horrible?
Yes, he quit on the team, that's bad, even selfish, and he deserves to be punished. Gase has done that. But is what he did really worse than getting suspended for PEDs or drug abuse? Or being arrested for domestic violence, which seems to be an all-too common occurrence with NFL players.
Or even - dare I say - abandoning your teammates after being unable to take a joke and throwing your other teammates under the bus, leading to a national scandal that eventually led to the release of the team's best guard? Is what Timmons did really worse than all of that?
I suppose that's up to you to decide.
I can't say that I am okay with what Timmons did, that would be a bold-faced lie. But while he did make a mistake, and an egregious one at that, Timmons has stated that he wants to return to practice and he wants to play again. He made one mistake, and up until this point, he has been a consummate professional in the NFL.
Surely, he deserves at least some benefit of the doubt? This has not been a recurring pattern, this has not been something he is notorious for. This is his 11th season in the NFL, and this is the first time anything like this has ever happened.
Timmons is the most talented linebacker on the roster, his absence on the field hurts the team, there is no doubt about that. Trading for Stephone Anthony won't do much to change that, at least, not for a while. Not only that, cutting Timmons outright would be very detrimental to the team's cap space over the next two years.
But even more important than that, while it is good for Gase to show his toughness, and make an example of someone who broke the rules, there is such a thing as giving a second chance, especially towards someone who has been as solid over the years as Timmons. He hasn't stayed gone, he wants to return. He now has four weeks (or less) to prove to Gase he wants to be a Miami Dolphin.
Thankfully, Gase's comments on Wednesday indicated that he is not above forgiveness.
“I think every situation’s different and I would say that you can be forgiven if the right steps are taken.”
That is exactly what I wanted to hear. Now, Lawrence Timmons, the rest is up to you.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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