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.
So many hashtags have come out of the past year and a half of the Miami Dolphins history: Things like #TheNewMiami or #InGaseWeTrust have been slogans that fans have hung their hats on in order to represent how the city of Miami is on the road to becoming a football town after many, many years of mediocre seasons that have left the Dolphins in the depths of irrelevancy.
But this 2017 season has given all of those fans several reasons to question whether their faith in the head coach is somehow misplaced, perhaps Adam Gase is not so perfect after all, that maybe he needs to be replaced before he ruins everything and removes all semblances of talent on the roster.
The problem is, fans cannot have their cake and eat it too. They want to change the culture, to make a winning culture, but they want to keep all of their favorite players too, because it's their jerseys they buy in the team store, not Gase's. It's the players that score the touchdowns and show up on the highlight reels, not Gase.
The reality is, unfortunately, culture change does not come about just because one coach comes in and starts trying to lay down the law. It seemed that way on the surface last season, when the team suddenly - and inexplicably - started winning games left and right after having a horrible start. Gase seemed like a hero, the culture had been changed and the hashtags began. It almost seemed too good to be true.
That's because it was, and now the truth has come out.
Dolphins fans thought that creating the "New Miami" would be a painless process, that Gase would come in and - with his no-nonsense attitude - whip the Dolphins players into lean, mean Super Bowl winning machines. Sure it probably would have taken a while, Rome wasn't built in a day after all, but this process would only include removing the bad players, like Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner, who fans cheered their departure when it happened.
But now the fans are very upset with Gase for pulling off a similar move at the trade deadline. How, could anyone in their right mind, trade a Pro Bowl caliber running back in Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles for a mere fourth round pick? Has Gase lost his mind? He was the best player on offense outside of Jarvis Landry, who is also rumored to be gone soon!
Gase isn't crazy, it's just the painful part of changing the culture.
You see, culture is not only dictated by the coach in charge, it is also dictated by the players in the locker room, their feelings and their thoughts have just as much of an effect on the culture as the coach. When Joe Philbin was the head coach, the culture felt boring and you could feel the lack of passion in the air.
Now with Gase, you feel like there's been a major upgrade as far as coaching prowess goes, but the same issues still remain. Why is this?
Apparently, the culture has not been changed as much as we would like to think.
The biggest sign that there was a much more serious problem in the Dolphins organization than we originally imagined was when Adam Gase stopped defending his players and started going after them during press conferences, stating that he had to dumb down the offense because players weren't getting it.
Then it all came to a head again after the 40-0 embarrassment against the Baltimore Ravens, as Gase ripped his players and called them out for one of the worst sins a player can commit: not caring about the effort they put into being good.
"I don’t think it’s a retain information thing." Gase said. "It’s we’re not putting the work in. That’s what it comes down to. If you can’t remember it, you shouldn’t be in the NFL. At the end of the day, guys have got to actually take this stuff home and study it. They’re not going to just learn it all in meetings. We’ve got to find guys that will actually put forth effort to actually remember this stuff and really, it starts with our best players."
That last statement is the most significant comment we have ever heard come out of Gase's mouth ever since he became the team's head coach. The best players have to put forth effort, and this implies that they are not. That means Jay Ajayi, that might even mean Jarvis Landry to some extent, though there's still a chance he may stay if he shapes up and flies straight, but even he is not doing things the way that Gase wants it done, if Armando Salguero's story is anything to take into consideration.
This means that the culture change isn't done, in fact it's only begun. Gase did wonders with what he was given last season, but if it's true that Miami's top players are not putting in the due effort to stay on par with the rest of the league (most certainly the Patriots who seem to do nothing but study), then they are not really Miami's top players, and they need to go.
No matter how much it hurts.
There is an old saying that says no one likes change. I feel that isn't true. I think the phrase should be this: no one likes change...when it hurts.
But culture doesn't change without major growing pains, and painful emotional departures of talented players.
Jay Ajayi fought with Adam Gase constantly over getting the ball, and he was even benched in week one of last season as a result of his attitude. In a sense, Jay Ajayi became a more productive version of Mike Wallace, but even if he produced, no one questioned Wallace was a detriment to the team. If what has been said about Ajayi is true, then he's no better than Wallace, and getting a fourth round draft pick instead of nothing is a win.
Culture cannot change if there are cancers in the locker room.
But no one said curing cancer was a painless process.
Does losing Ajayi hurt? Yes it does, because Ajayi is undoubtedly talented and now Miami will have to move forward with Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake. We know Williams isn't anywhere near Ajayi as a runner, and Drake is an unknown. But supposedly they work hard, so that's a plus.
Will losing Landry hurt if he doesn't return? Absolutely, more so than Ajayi. But if Landry isn't buying into Gase's system, then there will be conflict, and conflict cannot be present if a team wants to move forward.
So, yes, there is suffering to be done before the Dolphins can truly move past this and say their culture has been changed.
To draw parallels from the Bible, Joseph was sold into slavery and then thrown into jail, doing nothing but suffering despite having done nothing wrong at all. Then, God eventually made Joseph the second most powerful man in Egypt, effectively ending his suffering.
Right now, the Dolphins are suffering, and it will take time for the suffering to end. But once it does, and everything (and everyone) is going the way Gase wants it, then fans will finally be able to take a sigh of relief and enjoy football again.
But first, the pain must be endured. We won't understand it, we will question it, we will question Gase countless times in the weeks and years to come. But in the end, once the suffering is over, then the league will have to watch out, because Miami will have truly undergone the transformation into the New Miami.
Don Shula would not have hesitated to make this move if that's what it took to make that transformation happen, and neither has Gase.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Two weeks. Two games. Two incredible comebacks.
The Miami Dolphins did it again on Sunday, mounting a second half comeback from a seemingly insurmountable deficit, and somehow, someway, pulling off a win in the closing minutes of another nailbiter of a game.
How do they keep doing this?
Don’t expect the players to be as flabbergasted as the rest of us by the fortuitous turn of events for the second time in as many weeks. This team has undergone a culture change under head coach Adam Gase, and to a player, no one counts this team out until the final whistle is blown.
Want proof? A half dozen or so players were asked after the game how this team does it.
"We're just going to keep fighting and fighting and fighting - I guess you can say we like to make it interesting for everyone out there,” said offensive guard Jermon Bushrod. “It doesn't really help me or my heart much, but at the end of the day a win is a win, and I'll take it.
“We're just going to keep fighting if we get a chance, it's a team game, you've got to rely on the other phases to come through big for you sometimes. We put up a couple of touchdowns in the beginning, but they were scoring a couple touchdowns, so it was up to one of us to do something special so we could get a little bit more momentum.
“Our special teams did a good job of pinning them back. I remember one time we got pinned back and we had a couple of negative plays and we punted and put them back on the 15 or the 20 and the defense was able to get a stop. We were able to flip the field and we were able to go down and get some points. That's just what it is about.”
Tight end Anthony Fasano concurred, saying, "It's just kind of our make-up of the team. Heart, never giving up, guys believing in the process, in the team and in one another. (There are) some really good signs, even though we'd like to be a bit more comfortable in our wins, (there are) a lot of positives to be taken out of it."
And then this from defensive end Cameron Wake who contributed 2.5 sacks in Sunday’s win, "It sounds like a broken record, (but) we've been saying this for years. It's a belief in one another. If there's time on the clock, we still believe we have a chance.
“Offense believes in the defense. The defense believes in special teams. The special teams believe in offense. So on and so forth, that we're all going to make plays and play together. Like I've said, there's obviously things we still need to work on. But it's hard to win in this league, and when you have that belief then you're never technically out of the game.”
“I think we've been showing that over and over and over,” Wake continued. “Outside of this building people want to count us out, but inside the locker room, we believe in one another. And that's why I believe we can still get things done that maybe in other situations it wouldn't work out."
Sense a common thread there? The comments relating to the team having heart, sticking together, unity? That is where this team differs from Miami teams of the past decade and a half. The difference is palpable even to players who are new to the team this year.
"I mean it's crazy,” says kicker Cody Parkey of the team coming back from 17 and 14 point deficits in back to back weeks. “This team finds a way to win. Last year, I was on the Browns. That was kind of where we lacked. We couldn't find a way to win in third and fourth quarter. This team just seems to, you know?” We're down by 14 points, and no one's batting an eye. It's crazy … you go out there and score a score, and they get me in field goal range. Even when we had to punt with a minute left. It's just crazy … we just keep going out there and just keep fighting.”
And fight they do, as wide receiver Jarvis Landry adds, "We just keep finding ways to fight for each other. We've been saying it all week, for the last three weeks … it's going to come down to all four quarters. We know who we are. When there's an opportunity, and there's a chance, we just always try to grab it. And the last two weeks we've been doing it.”
And it’s not just about the opportunities with this team. They truly believe that they are never out of the game, as emphasized by one of the heros of Sunday’s game, cornerback Bobby McCain, who picked off New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown in the closing minutes of the game.
“You're never out of the game regardless if you're down two (touchdowns), three [touchdowns), three points,” said McCain. “Just keep fighting, and that's what we pride ourselves on here at the Miami Dolphins. You just keep fighting. Defensively, special teams, offense – we're all going to stick together. We're a band of brothers. Just keep fighting and good things will come.”
And finally, the man who will lead this team for the interim, quarterback Matt Moore, says, "I don't know if I can explain it, but these guys just keep going. They keep fighting. Coach Gase has an unbelievable message about what's done is done, we can't do anything about it so let's move forward. I think if you look at us late in games, you see that. Guys are just making plays, the next play mentality.
“That's really it. You can't change the past, you can't change what's happened; but if we move forward, good things will happen."
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
When the Miami Dolphins went up to MetLife Stadium, they were greeted by a ton of Dolphins fans who were on site for the annual MetLife Takeover held by the folks at DolfansNYC, who expected yet another victory as they went up against the thousands of Jets fans in an attempt to mitigate New York's home field advantage.
Unfortunately, no amount of cheering would have been able to get the inept Miami offense, as they were held to a grant total of zero points up until the final seconds of the game, when the Jets defense ultimately stopped caring and let the Dolphins score a touchdown as time elapsed.
To add insult to injury, kicker Cody Parkey missed the extra point, which made the final score of that game 20-6 in the Jets favor.
It was humiliating.
But on Sunday, the Jets will be coming to Miami for a rematch, and the Dolphins currently stand at 3-2, one game behind the New England Patriots (4-2) and tied for second with the Buffalo Bills (also 3-2). The Jets are currently at 3-3 after arguably having a victory against the Patriots stolen from them by the referees.
So needless to say, both teams will have a chip on their shoulders, but here are three reasons why the Dolphins will get their revenge on the Jets for their previous loss.
Lawrence Timmons at LB
When the Dolphins went to MetLife Stadium, they were missing a key component of their defense. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons went AWOL before the team's opening week against the Los Angeles Chargers, and he was then suspended indefinitely by the team, which left him unavailable for the Jets game.
Now, Timmons is on the roster and is ready to rumble. In just three games, Timmons has already racked up a total of 21 tackles, several of which have gone for either no gain or a loss of yards. As of now, Miami has the fourth-ranked rushing defense in the NFL, and Timmons is an important part of that.
The Jets have the 18th ranked rushing offense in the NFL, but they racked up 103 yards against the Dolphins in Week 3 with Chase Allen and Mike Hull platooning to take the place of Timmons. Since Timmons' return, the defense as a whole has taken a drastic leap forward.
Which means they won't be able to run over the Miami defense, and subsequently, they - logically speaking - won't be able to simply shred the secondary to pieces like they did last time.
The presence of Timmons will likely do wonders for the Dolphins defense as they face Josh McCown a second time, and this time, it could very well lead to a victory.
Dolphins offense gaining rhythm
The offense still isn't firing on all cylinders, but over the past couple of games, there have been signs that the team is starting to figure out what it takes to get things going, through plenty of two-TE sets and extra emphasis placed on running back Jay Ajayi.
But the emphasis on Ajayi is exactly what the Jets were waiting for during their first matchup, and it cost Miami any semblance of having an effective offense, as the multiple screen passes called by coach Gase were complete failures each time.
Now, however, there seems to be more of an emphasis on passing the ball forward rather than sideways, and although Cutler is still making a few poor decisions, he too seems to be getting into a better rhythm, meaning the Dolphins offense could be on the verge of being, dare we say, decent?
With the defense holding teams to such a low point total, this may be a situation where we flashback to the Dave Wannstedt days, where the focus would be on the defense, and the offense just needed to score at least 14 points. Ideally, they would get more than 14 points per game, but in this case, all that is really needed is competence. They seem to be getting to that point.
There was some initial skepticism regarding the Dolphins head coach and his overall ability to be a coach after the team's struggles to even look competent throughout the first several weeks of the season, but once again, Adam Gase has proven that he does have a good head on his shoulders and he knows what he needs to do to get the job done.
After the game against the Tennessee Titans, Gase revealed that the playbook had been greatly scaled back, though he didn't specify what the reasons were. To speculate, it's very possible that Jay Cutler didn't have nearly as much knowledge of the playbook as we had been led to believe, which would explain why the offense consisted almost completely of ineffective screen passes and running Jay Ajayi into proverbial brick walls.
But now it seems the playbook is starting to open up again, and Gase is slowly getting his team back into regular season form, the same form that they possibly showcased during their winning streak last season after spending the first several weeks as one of the most inept teams in the NFL, not unlike this season.
Is this all simply proof that there is a method to Gase's madness? Perhaps. But the true reason why Gase is a big reason the Dolphins will get revenge on Sunday is simply because of one thing: Gase is not known for making the same mistake twice, and so far, any assumptions made that he has made the same mistake, as eventually been proven wrong.
This time, it may be wiser to just assume he knows what he's doing, and that we should all trust the process and wait and see what he does.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler has been the target of so hundreds, maybe thousands of internet memes that almost always show him with a never-changing casual expression on his face. Long known for a "Don't care" demeanor, it turns out there is an alleged story behind how that came about.
A few years ago while Cutler was with the Chicago Bears, he was in the bathroom of a trendy sushi restaurant when a fan approached him while he was at the urinal. The fan started to talk to Cutler, saying he too was a Vanderbilt alumnus, so maybe they might know some of the same people. Cutler cut him off in mid-sentence, saying "Don't care!" effectively ending the conversation.
Supposedly, there was a witness who came out to confirm this event took place, but it was never officially confirmed by mainstream news outlets. Whether it's true or not, however, his aloofness was always accepted as fact.
And while it may be an unfair rap on his reputation - Cutler is known as one of the hardest workers in the locker room, and most teammates, current and former (Brandon Marshall excepted), show high respect for him - the fact remains that many fans see Cutler as not showing enough emotion in games.
And Cutler takes exception to that. In the game against the Falcons, cameras caught Cutler showing emotion on the sidelines several times, exhorting and encouraging teammates throughout the game. When asked, Cutler said it's nothing new to him, but fans just don't always see it.
“No, it has been on tape before, it's not the first time," he said about the emotional outbursts. "I try to stay as calm as possible for these guys, but there are going to become points throughout the season where you go the opposite way.”
“Most of the time I leave (teammates) alone," he continued. "I might encourage them or something on the sideline. I don’t want these guys … They know when they mess up. They’re pros. I want them to move on and concentrate on the next play as fast as possible.”
Moving calmly on to the next play is something Cutler has tried to focus on throughout his career, but Cutler says he hasn't really put a lot conscious thought into trying to stay level-headed. And as a veteran would be expected to say, he realizes how quickly the fortunes of a game or season can change.
"I think as you get older you just kind of see things a little bit differently," says Cutler. "You experience a lot that this league has to offer. The highs aren’t as high and the lows probably aren’t as low. You’ve just got to try to stay even and realize that it’s a long season, and you’re going to hit a lot of speed bumps along the way.”
Head coach Adam Gase, who has known Cutler since a recruiting visit when Gase was an assistant with the Detroit Lions, concurs. He says Cutler is usually focused during games, regardless of the situation or score, but that the emotion isn't anything surprising to him.
“I mean, that’s all I know," says Gase. "I’ve seen it since I was with him in 2015. "He’s trying to stay focused in the game, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. I saw during the week (before the Atlanta game) where I could tell it was going to be that kind of game, because he was really dialed in during the week.
"It’s good for guys to see him get emotional, especially at the end of that game, when we convert a big first down – or a big third down to get a first down ... Just to see him get fired up like that, that’s nothing but good stuff for us."
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
Before the season began, there was a lot of hype surrounding wide receiver DeVante Parker. He appeared truly focused and dedicated for the first time since being drafted, and in training camp he looked like a new man, showing speed and explosiveness that he never had before.
But as the offense struggled under Jay Cutler and the weakened offensive line, Parker's overall effectiveness was lowered as well, and then he suffered an ankle injury against the Tennessee Titans, and was later seen leaving on crutches.
Parker then missed the following game against the Atlanta Falcons, and reports indicate that he still has not returned to practice as the Dolphins prepare to get revenge on the New York Jets for their humiliation several weeks ago.
So, with Parker's injury in mind, Miami is preparing a game-plan that does not require his services, but that doesn't mean they are closing the door on him playing just yet.
“I feel like he always has (a chance) after what he proved to me last year, where there was a 0.01 percent chance of playing and then he played." coach Adam Gase said on Monday. "That was … He proved to me that he’s got a toughness level and a pain tolerance level that I hadn’t really heard about or seen before.
"We just kind of waited as long as we could and then we finally just were good with what the direction we were going in, and we decided not to play him. We’ll just see how this week goes. We’ll just keep taking our steps. The training staff is doing a good job of just bringing him along. I know he’s itching to get back out there. Whether or not he does, time will tell.”
As the week wore on, Parker still didn't practice, and the Dolphins have begun to shift gears and start utilizing two-TE sets more, allowing for blocking specialist Anthony Fasano to see the field more, which seems to have paid its dividends as the team has won its last two games.
But there's no questioning what Parker brings to the table when he's healthy, and though some are still questioning his dedication due to the lack of overall production, coach Gase assures everyone that Parker's toughness and dedication to his craft can no longer be questioned, and that if Parker feels he's ready, he will take the field.
“I’ve just kind of gone with … My philosophy has always been, ‘Trust the player.’ If he tells you that he’s not right, believe him, because I’ve been in too many situations when I was a younger coach where a guy is saying something is wrong and it is not kind of seen the same by whether it be the training staff or coaches." Gase said on Wednesday. "You just kind of observe that when you’re younger.
"A lot of times, the players are right. They want to be out there. A lot of these guys play through extreme pain and find a way to be productive on Sunday or be impactful. I’ve just always believed that those guys want to be out there, so if they’re healthy enough to play, they will.”
"We still just keep holding out hope, he's had some Lazarus experiences out there where he's showed up at the last second from the dead," said offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen. "So we still keep hoping, but we're so used to it now, I'm not saying that to be cute, we're just used to it. People fill in and you go and we get a big play out of #19 (Jakeem Grant) and so that's just the way it is.
“The trouble for us is really just personnel-ing it up. For Jakeem to know, hey, if he plays, then I may be at Z or I may be at X if he doesn’t play. So it does cause some cross-training of those guys. I don’t think it’s as much game plan as it is it’s harder on the wide outs and the tight ends. Where am I going to be lined up in this game? So all of the sudden he shows up, he makes a ‘miraculous’ recovery and he’s in the ball game and bang now, all the personnel groups are something you practiced a different way."
It remains to be seen whether Parker will have that "Lazarus experience" that Christensen is referring to, but if he does, then that will be a major X-factor that the Jets will more than likely be caught off-guard with, giving Miami an even bigger advantage that they could no doubt use as they seek vengeance.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
It has been said that teams that try to build through free agency (and trades) generally do not meet with much success. This has been a sound philosophy in the past, as teams that are known for developing their own talent (such as the Green Bay Packers or Cincinnati Bengals) have met with repeated success while other teams try to take their castoffs and try to close the gap.
Since the hiring of Adam Gase as the Dolphins head coach, Miami has been trying to get more production out of their young players, as coach Gase has instilled a true "best player plays" philosophy into the franchise that was only feigned during the Joe Philbin era.
But even with the increased production from the likes of Jakeem Grant, Xavien Howard, Cordrea Tankersley, Charles Harris, Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor and others, there's no denying that the veteran presence on this year's roster has been a key factor in the team managing to make it to 3-2 despite not scoring more than 20 points in a game all season.
"We’ve got a lot of guys that are fresh out of college, for the most part, and the veteran players have done a great job." Gase said on Monday. "When you have Cam Wake, (Ndamukong) Suh, Reshad (Jones), (Jay) Cutler coming on board has helped. He’s the oldest guy. Him and Matt Moore, they’ve done outstanding jobs trying to be somewhat mentors to some of these younger guys.
"Julius (Thomas) and (Anthony) Fasano, you’ve got (Jermon) Bushrod, (Mike) Pouncey’s been around. You’ve got some guys that have been around and have seen a lot of things. They’ve been able to put things in perspective and help guys focus on what we’ve got to do.”
Two players who have made a tremendous impact on the field - and were not pointed out by Gase - are LB Lawrence Timmons and DE William Hayes, both of whom have been tremendous in stopping the run and making the Dolphins defense the fourth-ranked defense against the run, a far-cry from the 30th ranking they received in 2016.
Hayes, 32, was traded to the Dolphins back in March for a sixth-round pick by the Los Angeles Rams, the deal also included the Rams' seventh-round pick.
In the five games he's played in a Miami uniform, he's put up 10 tackles and a sack, which on the surface does not look that impressive. But Hayes has not played that many snaps this season as he is being used in a depth role for the Dolphins, and the few instances where he is on the field, he has made a tremendous impact.
He may not be a three-down lineman anymore, but it's clear just from watching that Hayes still has a lot to offer in the support role he's been placed in. Unfortunately, his formerly 2-year deal that the team inherited was shortened to a 1-year deal on Hayes' request several months ago.
He later admitted to regretting that decision, citing how much he loved Miami and his teammates. Luckily, the Dolphins have his sentiment for his new team on their side should they decide to go into negotiations in the 2018 offseason.
“I’m happy,” Hayes said via the Palm Beach Post back in August. “I want to spend the rest of my little career I’ve got left out here. And just give them everything I’ve got. I’m enjoying myself and having fun. It’s a good situation.”
If he supposedly only has a little bit left in the tank, then he must have a very high capacity one.
The second veteran who's made a massive impact has been Lawrence Timmons, who at the age of 31, has shown no signs of being anything less than the cornerstone linebacker he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers for ten seasons.
All except for that unfortunate incident where he decided to go AWOL before the team's opening week.
He had to earn his way back into coach Gase's good graces after that, but that didn't take long (partially due to the shortcomings of young players Mike Hull and Chase Allen, who tried to take Timmons' place), and as soon as Timmons got his act together, his impact was felt immediately.
Like Hayes, Timmons has been instrumental in the Miami defense becoming one of the top run stopping defenses in the NFL, showing an innate knack for anticipation for knowing where the running back is going to be and how to get to him in a hurry, totaling 21 tackles - quite a few for a loss - in just three played games.
Now with the rematch against the Jets already approaching, Timmons will get to contribute and will likely make a significant difference in the defense. If the offense can get going this time around, the defense should be able to contain journeyman Josh McCown.
In years past, veteran players have been a colossal waste of money for the Dolphins, but in the case of Hayes and Timmons, that has proven not be the case. Hopefully, the front office will be able to find more gems laying around in the future as they continue to build their core through the draft.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
After their 20-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, some Miami Dolphins players were seen coming out of the locker room wearing t-shirts with “We Are Not Normal” emblazoned on the front. Knowing head coach Adam Gase and his penchant for t-shirts (see “Strain” and “Zero In” on workout shirts in the past year), it only makes sense that this was another motivational brainchild of the second-year coach.
The slogan refers to the wacky year that the Dolphins have had to deal with so far this season. From quarterback Ryan Tannehill going down for the year with a knee injury, Hurricane Irma forcing the team to lose their bye week, and spending the first week of the season practicing in California, this has been a season of seemingly unending challenges for the team.
Gase has been tasked with keeping the team focused throughout all these distractions, and after this week’s win boosted the Dolphins to a winning 3-2 record, it’s apparent that Gase knows a thing or two about motivation. But he’s equally impressed with the leadership among the players on this team.
"I don't know, that's what they do,” said Gase when asked how the team is dealing with so much adversity. “I feel like if it's happened, we've seen it. I'm not going to press my luck, though, and say, 'What else can happen?'
“Guys have done a great job. They come in, whatever's happened we address it, talk about it, and they do a great job of moving on.”
Gase credits the veterans on the team with setting the standard, “especially with the amount of guys we have that are probably 25 or younger. We've got a lot of guys that are fresh out of college … and the veteran players have done a great job. You've got some guys that have been around and have seen a lot of things. They've been able to put things in perspective and help guys focus on what we've got to do.”
As for the backstory on the t-shirts?
Turns out Gase was working with Director of Player Engagement Kaleb Thornhill one day, and Thornhill found a sign that said “We Are Not Normal.” That sign found its way into the squad meeting room.
“I just remember Cam (Wake) walked by me and goes, 'Now that's a shirt,'” says Gase. “I just banked that one.”
And this week, after coming back from a 17-0 deficit to pull off an improbable win, Gase decided it was time. So out came the shirts.
“When things start going in different directions, and the sky is falling for everyone else, and our guys are just plugging along, I felt like it was a good week to give those out and see what happened,” said gase. “I think those guys embraced that. They know a lot of the things they've been through and a lot of the things they've fought through, a lot of people wouldn't have done what they've done so far.”
The players took to them well, with rookie defensive end Charles Harris tweeting just moments after the end of the game:
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter: @EJFootball
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