Owner Stephen Ross flew home in record time after the disappointing 42-17 thrashing the Miami Dolphins took Sunday afternoon from the Buffalo Bills. Here it was, the end of another losing season: Another embarrassment. Another lackluster effort from the players. Another late season team collapse.
And, another bad display of coaching. Ross had a lot to think about. Did he need to hit the reset button or should he stay the course? Make no mistake that the decision to fire coach Gase was two years in the making and it had to happen.
In the first year of coach Gase’s tenure, a euphoric vibe was present with the Miami Dolphins. An unknown running back named Jay Ajayi emerged as a driving force to a Dolphins Wild Card playoff berth. Many things seemed to work. Every player that was cut during the season was a significant liability to the team (Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner, etc). Coach Gase’s first draft consisted of Laremy Tunsil, Xavien Howard, Kenyan Drake, Leonte Carroo, and Jakeem Grant which were all contributors.
And, coach Gase had a strong relationship with players within the locker room and during game day, which you could see during his game day emotions. When things went wrong with the team, he took responsibility for not coaching his team up enough. When things went right, it was due to the hard work by the coaching staff and the team.
But something happened during his second year. Obviously, the Ryan Tannehill injury in training camp was a huge wrench in coach Gase’s plans.
But then the bad decisions started piling up one after the other. First, bringing in a 29 year old Julius Thomas, who had not been a relevant NFL player for four years. This was a loyalty selection, as Gase was familiar with Thomas during his Broncos days.
Then, a substandard draft with the only contributor being Raekwon McMillan, who ended up missing the entire season due to an injury in preseason. Then, paying an exorbitant amount of money to Jay Cutler, who clearly had no interest in playing football. (Passing up $10 million was a little hard to pass up). Cutler was another loyalty pick for the coach.
Then coach Gase aimed his focus on the culture within the locker room. It became evident that there was only going to be one Alpha Dog on the team, and that was coach Gase. Trading Jay Ajayi had more to do with Gase not wanting to deal with Ajayi’s A type personality than it did with what Ajayi was able to do on the field. Instead of adjusting his leadership style to coach these players with different personalities, Gase’s choice was to let the players go.
The Dolphins ended the 2017 season a depressing 6-10.
The 2018 season was supposed to be the big bounce back year. Alpha Dog coach Gase cleared the locker room of any player who appeared to have an opinion about the team which differed from his own opinion. Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh, and Mike Pouncey were no longer with the team. Ryan Tannehill, who Gase always stood behind, was to return from injury. The team picked up some veteran free agents to help shore up the offensive and defensive lines, and they had some solid selections during the draft in Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jerome Baker, and Jason Sanders.
After the team started 3-0, things couldn’t look brighter. But, after a 38-7 shellacking at the hands of the New England Patriots in Foxborough, the wheels began to come off. Injuries began mounting and the backup players weren’t good enough to compensate for the missing starters.
The offense struggled, especially when Tannehill was injured. The defense had significantly more bad games than good games. And, instead of blaming the coaches for the poor team performances, Gase’s blame was placed on other factors (the weather, the opponents' winning streaks, the opponents' health, the opponents' effort, etc).
And again, the coaches didn’t know how to effectively address players with individual personalities. This boiled over when Reshad Jones pulled himself out of the Dolphins vs. Jets game midway through and did not return. The 2018 season ended with a disappointing 7-9 record.
Stephen Ross needed to fire Adam Gase. Not because of the Dolphins unacceptable records the past two seasons, but because Gase made too many bad decisions, couldn’t be an offensive coordinator and head coach at the same time, and he lacked in one of the most important skills that any leader is required to have when managing people – good communication skills.
All in all, Adam Gase will probably be a great head coach somewhere. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be in Miami.
This story was written by Ian Berger. Follow him on Twitter: @ian693
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