Let’s be clear about this: The narrative that former Dolphins coach Adam Gase was widely disliked by his team is not accurate.
Gase had a lot of supporters in that locker room. He established strong relationships with several veterans. Several of them waited outside his office to wish him well after his dismissal Monday. Wide receiver Albert Wilson, who missed the final nine games with a hip injury, tweeted: “A full year, I could have shown how much of a genius he was.”
But no team has a roster in which all 53 players like the coach, and Gase is no exception. There were also some complaints raised by players who personally liked him.
Some of what has been told from the locker room:
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▪ One complaint voiced by players about Gase is that he didn’t necessarily stick with what was working in games. One player said the team would be running the ball successfully, and Gase inexplicably then started throwing it.
One sentiment we heard: Gase wanted to fool the other team but sometimes ended up outsmarting himself. That frustrated some players.
▪ Another view expressed from the locker room: Gase wasn’t as emotionally level as a head coach needed to be at times. One player said if a play-call didn’t work, he sometimes let it carry over for several minutes and was out of sorts emotionally. That player said a more level, a more even emotional approach would have been preferred.
▪ As ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe tweeted, “a few guys told me [they] felt alienated and held to a different standard if they weren’t one of ‘his guys’ like Ryan Tannehill and others.” That’s something we’ve also heard.
That said, Gase — until the awful final three weeks — probably extracted as much as most anyone could from an injury-depleted roster. Gase ultimately was betrayed by faith in Tannehill, faith in Jay Cutler the previous season and personnel missteps.
He made some good choices along the way, too — including Wilson and Frank Gore. But he too often gravitated to players with whom he had a history (Cutler, Brock Osweiler, Julius Thomas) and few of those played up to expectations.
I expect Gase to be a better coach his second time around because he’s smart and creative. It would have been interesting to see what he could have done with a new quarterback.
Gase, incidentally, will interview for Arizona’s head coaching job Wednesday, according to ESPN. And he’s reportedly a candidate for the Cleveland job, too.
THIS AND THAT
If you missed it, Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard became the fifth confirmed person to be asked to interview with the Dolphins for their head coaching job. And as of Tuesday morning, all Dolphins assistant coaches remain employed, though the new coach (in consultation with top executive Chris Grier) obviously will determine the new staff.
Colleagues Armando Salguero and Adam Beasley are handling the coaching search the rest of the way this week, but a few other notes:
▪ The Dolphins finished 31st in offense — the lowest ranking in franchise history — and 29th in defense.
Miami averaged the 26th most points on offense and gave up the 27th most on defense.
They ended up being outgained by 1619 yards and outscored by 114 points, totals that would suggest this was closer to a four-win team than the 7-9 record would indicate.
▪ Tannehill, who is not expected to return to the Dolphins, finished the season as Pro Football Focus’ lowest-graded qualifying quarterback at 45.3 overall, by far his worst season. His previous worst was 68.4 as a rookie in 2012.
His passer rating slid dramatically during the final two weeks and his 92.7 passer rating ranked 20th in the league.
▪ Per PFF, right tackle Ja’Wuan James had his highest grade of the season in the finale (80.5), and the Dolphins now must decide whether to re-sign him.
In James and Laremy Tunsil, Miami had two of PFF’s top 34 graded tackles in the league this season.
▪ Per PFF, linebacker Raekwon McMillan “came on strong down the stretch, leading all linebackers with 24 stops during the last four weeks of the season. He showed promise in defending the run for most of the season (84.4 grade) but struggled in coverage (42.0).”
▪ Despite missing the final two games, Gore finished 25th in the league in rushing with 722 yards, on 4.6 per carry.
Kenyan Drake was 37th with 535, on 4.5 per carry. Drake was 45th in the NFL in yards from scrimmage.
▪ Despite missing the final four games, Xavien Howard tied for the league lead with seven interceptions.
▪ The Dolphins’ 31 sacks were fourth fewest in the league. Miami allowed 52 sacks, tied for fifth most.
▪ The Dolphins’ receiver leader, Danny Amendola, had 575 receiving yards. In a pass-heavy league, Miami averaged just 207 passing yards per game and didn’t have a receiver with 600 yards in receptions.
Please check out my year-end South Florida sports awards, including the best and worst personnel moves, most improved players, biggest disappointments and some media awards…. And please check back late afternoon for another Dolphins post.