Monitoring the ups and downs of the Dolphins fan base has been quite an interesting experience this year. Even after years of mediocre play, you find that the majority of fans are still optimistic. When asked why they're optimistic, virtually every one will cite the fact that new head coach Adam Gase will be bringing "his" offense and that better coaching will be the result.
As someone who lives in Chicago, I saw more of what Gase can do as an offensive coordinator than most and I have a great respect for the work he did here with the Bears. But my strong suggestion is that Dolphins fans put the brakes on the "Adam Gase is a god" train.
Before I explain why, I'd like to go off on an apparent tangent.
Dolphins fans are going to hate hearing this but I have a confession to make. I love the Ryan brothers, Rex and Rob.
I know, Rex is a former Jets coach and both Rex and Rob are currently coaching in Buffalo, Rex as the head guy and Rob as the assistant head coach/defense. And I know that makes them the enemy if you are Dolphins fans. But I can't help it. In a league that stifles all public comment that might be construed as controversial, the Ryan brothers are refreshing, a mix of arrogance and humor that keeps me entertained both during the season and long after it has ended.
But as much as I love the Ryan brothers, I don't love what I read in a recent interview with both brothers by Jenny Vrentas at mmqb.si.com. Especially what came from Rob.
Rob Ryan, a former defensive coordinator for the Saints, blasted the organization, especially head coach Sean Payton, claiming that he was running a defense that wasn't his.
"VRENTAS: If you weren't running your defensive system the past two seasons in New Orleans, what were you running?
"ROB: Everyone wants to run Seattle's defense. They should have hired a Seattle coach. I did the best job I could. Under the circumstances, trust me, I did the best job I could."
"VRENTAS: Who made the decision to run a version of Seattle's defense?
"ROB: I think everything starts with the head coach and goes higher than that. They signed players; they signed a free-agent free safety [Jairus Byrd in 2014], and said, we are going to keep him in the middle of the field like the goalpost. Well, that's great. He's not going to make one play back there, and now we have changed the entire defense for one signing, and it ruined us. He's a great kid. But the truth of the matter is, you let an All-Pro safety walk, Malcolm Jenkins, and lost your two best leaders on the team, him and Roman Harper. We changed the entire style of play. It was strange."
I don't like this kind of finger pointing. It's not what the game is all about.
Football fans are used to hearing the players talk about winning as a team and losing as a team. Players are expected to suppress their individuality and sacrifice for team goals. Like the situation for most of us in our every day lives, it isn't always about doing what the players want to do because they almost never get to do that all the time (I'm looking at you, Mario Williams). It's about compromise for the benefit of everyone on the roster.
If fans were to think about it, they would realize that the same rules apply to the coaching staff. Every staff works as a team and most of the time everyone from the head coach on down is compromising his beliefs for the sake of the team. After all, how can you ask your players to do that if you aren't willing to do it yourself?
Which brings us, as it always does, back to the Dolphins and Adam Gase. I find this reliance on everything getting better because good offensive coordinator Gase will be good head coach Gase to be dangerous thinking. The reason I don't love this line of thought is the same as the reason I don't love Ryan's above. It's a team game.
Every offensive and defensive game plan is a team effort. I assure you that no one coach, even the head coach, formulates the whole thing. The effort is split amongst the assistants, who each examine one particular aspect of the opponent's game and devises a way to attack it. Coaches then get together in a room and hammer out a comprehensive plan all of which never comes from one person.
Does the coordinator and ultimately the head coach lead this effort? Yes. Does it turn out to be just what they want with no input from the other coaches? Never, ever does this happen. Everyone comes together and puts a little bit of themselves into the plan. This will be particularly true of Gase who, if he follows the lead of Broncos and Bears head coach John Fox, will be vocal about letting the assistants do their jobs without interference from the head coach.
Add in the fact that the plan has to fit players, who are almost never what one man ideally wants because they are drafted by the general manager in conjunction with advice from the scouts, and what you have is a mass of compromise that can only be described as the ultimate team effort.
Yes, in the end the buck does stop with the head coach. This is not because it's his game plan but because it's the people who he hired who are formulating most of it. And that's why Adam Gase is unlikely to be the be all end all of what the Dolphins will be this year.
If the Dolphins are going to be successful, it won't be because Gase brought "his offense" to the Dolphins to instantaneously turn around the franchise. It will be because be hired the best people to do the job and they eventually bonded to formulate a plan to succeed with his input.
Gase is a first time head coach with a first time defensive coordinator. That's a lot of people doing a lot of things for the first time. Maybe Dolphins fans need to slow their roll and allow Gase and his coaches time to grow into their jobs as they come together to win or lose in a coordinated, team effort.
This column was written by Tom Shannon. Follow him on Twitter: @bearingthenews
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