Throughout much of the second half of Saturday's game against the Buffalo Bills, in Orchard Park, New York, you got the feeling that the tide was beginning to turn, that Buffalo was finally gaining the necessary momentum to send the Miami Dolphins home with a loss. And then, inevitably, inexorably, as they have so many times during this amazing 2016 season, the guys from Miami would find a way to make a stand and turn back the onslaught to preserve the victory.
So many different players, on both sides of the ball, have taken turns providing the game winning heroics for the Miami Dolphins this season. The one common denominator, though, has been rookie head coach Adam Gase. Try uttering that phrase out loud, if you can: 'Rookie head coach Adam Gase'. Somehow, it just doesn't seem to fit. Gase seems to have come of age before our eyes in 2016, returning the Dolphins to prominence in the process.
What we so often tend to forget, as fans, is that the so called 'X's and O's' aspect of coaching is generally over emphasized by the public. Indeed, every NFL team uses the same plays. The true measure of a coach's acumen and prowess is his ability to be a salesman, and a coach's success, is, in large part determined by his ability to make his team believe they can win. It is this crucial piece of the proverbial puzzle, more than anything else, that is responsible for the eye popping success of the 2016 Miami Dolphins.
Even longtime Dolphin skeptic Mike Florio, of Pro Football Talk, said recently, that if Gase can guide Miami into the playoffs with Matt Moore at quarterback, he wouldn't be the coach of the year, he'd be the coach of the decade. Well, as of this writing, the Dolphins are a game away from earning a berth in this year's postseason field. Speaking of Moore, since 2011, he's now 2-0 at New Era Field, while starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill has never won there, losing all four of his starts in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Of course, having had a 200 yard rusher in both games, lining up behind him, probably didn't hurt Moore's cause, but if you're going to point to the running game Matt Moore enjoyed in his victories at Buffalo, you must also give him credit for finding a way to lead his team to a win, despite the defense giving up nearly 600 yards of total offense to the Bills on Saturday.
Buffalo has had some success the past few years signing former Dolphin players, then employing the same players to help them beat Miami, when the two teams play each other. Indeed, former Fins placekicker Dan Carpenter provided the winning points against his former team in the very first game he played against them, in September 2013, in Miami Gardens. One-time Dolphins tight end Charles Clay, for whom the Bills paid dearly two years ago, nearly helped Buffalo knock off Miami on Saturday, amassing 85 receiving, and two touchdowns. Perhaps fittingly, though, 'DC Money' missed two field goals, silencing the Bills' faithful sitting in the frigid stands. One of those misses was aided and abetted by former Miami running back Reggie Bush having lost eight yards on his only carry of the game. Bush now has minus three yards rushing on twelve carries this season, and if he fails to improve that total next week, he will become the first non-quarterback since 1961 to finish with a negative yardage total in a season, with nine or more carries.
The finish to this memorable season for the Dolphins is yet be written, but no matter what happens from here, that Miami has finally found the man whom they believe can lead them to the promised land is beyond question. That's probably the best Christmas present any of us could have asked for.