When you lose as a coach in the NFL, everything’s something to somebody, no matter how frivolous.
The Lions’ Matt Patricia got a reminder of that Wednesday, when fed-up beat writers took him to task for regularly being late to news conferences.
And Adam Gase, the Dolphins’ third-year coach, has been through the ringer this week too.
His outrage-stirring transgression?
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Sitting on the bench, writing down notes, while the Jaguars were seizing control of Sunday’s game.
The score was tied 7-7 early in the fourth quarter and the Dolphins’ defense was imploding. Two 15-yard penalties on Miami helped move the Jaguars into field goal range. (They would go on to kick one and take the lead for good.)
CBS broadcast cameras, as they often do, sought out the head coach. They found Miami’s away from the action, collecting his thoughts and scribbling them down as he sat alone.
The image, admittedly jarring, was enough for Gase’s detractors to pounce in real-time on Twitter, and then later on TV and talk radio.
Gase explained himself on Monday and then again Wednesday, when he went a step forward.
After laying out his rationale — “I’m trying to get the next series going so I can tell the guys, ‘Here’s what’s coming. Here’s what I’m thinking going into next series” — Gase interrupted the next, unrelated question to hammer home the point further.
“Hold on,” Gase said. “I’m not the only one does that now. The guy in L.A. does it a lot and they’re all right.”
“The guy in L.A.” is Rams coach Sean McVay, and like Gase, he calls offensive plays as a head coach.
But there’s a crucial difference: The Rams have the league’s No. 2 offense and are a win away from a first-round playoff bye.
The Dolphins are 30th in yards and will miss the postseason for the 15th time in 17 years.
Or put another way, no one wonders if McVay has too much on his plate. But Gase doesn’t get that benefit of the doubt. Some have even called on him to hand over his offense to an empowered coordinator.
The scrutiny will only increase in 2019, assuming Gase returns, as is the plan. Year 4 could be a defining one for Gase in Miami, and barring an shocking reversal, expect him to call the offensive plays again.
“We haven’t had a lot of mismanagement of games,” Gase said. “We’ve got a lot of people that are involved in game-day management. I just have to make a decision. We’re talking through stuff all the time.”
When asked what he’s learned about managing his time and attention of Sundays, considering all for which he’s responsible, Gase replied:
“Yeah, it slows down the more you do it. Year 1 to now is, I can’t even imagine if I was able to go back and watch myself in Year 1 compared to now. It was probably a nightmare in Year 1.”
Two more bits of clarification on this matter, which has gone national:
1. Gase is usually away from the bench, near the sidelines when the defense is on the field, Ryan Tannehill said. Cameras caught him in a rare moment on the bench.
“We’ll convene if we have anything that we need to adjust going forward,” Tannehill added.
And 2. He insists he is always involved in the moment, even if the visuals suggest otherwise.
“Just remember, it’s not hard to see,” Gase said. “I’m on the headset with the defense. I can hear everything. I can see what’s going on. There’s pretty big screens on the field. It’s not like I can’t see anything. I can hear everything that’s going on.”
It’s telling that Tannehill still has Gase’s back, even though it’s been reported (and widely assumed) that the Dolphins will have a different starting quarterback in 2019. Tannehill said his relationship with his coach is “as good as we have ever been.”
“At that position, you take a lot of the bullets and sometimes you’ll get all the credit when you might not deserve it. We’ve just been so all over the place. One game we’ll do well on offense, and then the next day we’ll be non-existent. …
“You’re under fire all the time. Between the head coach and the quarterback, you’re not missed. Everybody knows where you are, what you’re doing and how you’re handling it.”