Miami Dolphins fans woke up Tuesday morning to some eye-opening news, as the team announced it had traded starting running back and Pro Bowler Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fourth round pick in next year's NFL draft.
And while Dolphins Twitter had it's usual slew of knee jerk reactions, the move sends a message that head coach Adam Gase had emphasized after last week's 40-0 drubbing at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. After that game, Gase warned that players who didn't study the plays, didn't know their assignments on game day, were on notice.
Gase specifically hinted that Ajayi was one who had missed several assignments, not only in the running game, but in missed blocking assignments and blitz pickups as well. And film review proved that to be true. The trades proves that not only does Gase have full job security and the blessing of the franchise brass, but his message was an idle threat - if players don't do their jobs, they won't play.
Reports are surfacing that Ajayi, one of Gase's three supposed 'hot heads' in the locker room (along with Gase and wide receiver Jarvis Landry) argued with Dolphins staff, and there had been a few confrontations in recent weeks. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald also reported that Landry, who is in the last year of his rookie contract with a team that has a tight salary cap situation, may also be on the trading block.
Ajayi goes to a strong contender, as the Eagles are favorites to dominate the NFC this year. He'll run behind a strong offensive line, but the Eagles have several veteran running backs in their stable, all capable of stepping in if Ajayi doesn't earn his keep.
Miami will turn to Damian Williams and Kenyan Drake at the running back position. Williams has a reputation for playing better than he practices, but was guilty of several missed assignments against the Ravens as well. Drake has played sparingly, but may now find himself with a chance to prove his starting worth.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.