The Miami Dolphins are locked into the NFL Playoffs with a week remaining in the regular season. There has been a lot of talk about the team considering resting players in an effort to get ready for a probable showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wildcard Weekend. During his media availability on Monday, Miami head coach Adam Gase stuck to the team’s message of only focusing on the up-coming opponent - the New England Patriots - rather than looking forward to the Playoff game.
“I think we need to do everything we can to try to make sure that we’re 1-0 at the end of this week,” Gase said when asked about the idea of resting players. “Our guys are going to get ready. We’re going to practice and see how many guys we got healthy.”
Miami has run with the typical sports cliche of being 1-0 each game all season long. The thing is, in this case, it has worked. After a 1-4 start, Miami has gone 9-1 over the past ten games to put themselves in this position of a clinched playoff berth a week before the regular season ends. The team has bought into Gase’s vision, and they have come together as a team to make it happen.
The Dolphins are focused on moving to 11-5 on the year with a 1-0 performance in Week 17 against the Patriots, but in the long run, unless the Kansas City Chiefs also lose this week, a win or a loss Sunday makes no difference to the Dolphins. On paper, this game just does not seem that critical for Miami, but to Gase, each game is important. “That’s the game that we’re playing this week. That’s our focus and we know who we’re playing and we know we’re playing a very good team that’s as well-coached as you could possibly get. We know we have a team that we lost to earlier in the season that we have to make sure that we bring our A-game.”
Gase was asked if he would be disappointed this week if the players were already talking about the playoffs, even though he is trying to focus on Week 17. “I think our players are focused on this week because they know exactly who we’re playing,” Gase explained. “This is absolutely a team, if you look past them, they will embarrass you. So our focus needs to be on playing New England, and if it’s not, you’ll see it on the field on Sunday.”
Miami’s first-year head coach has remained on message all season, and that continues even now that the team is in the playoffs. The Dolphins have not been to the postseason since 2008, and there is only one player, long snapper John Denney, who was on that team and is still with the club. This is a team that has had to learn how to win and how to get through the regular season. Gase’s efforts to make sure the Dolphins are focused on Sunday’s Week 17 game rather than a Wildcard Weekend game could prove to be critical for the team. Gase is going to keep his foot on the gas pedal and put it all on the line against the Patriots. The Dolphins do not have the experience needed to be a team that can coast for a weekend before putting the hammer back down a week later.
“We just talked about focusing on getting better with our film from the last game, making our corrections and then focusing on New England when we get back in on Wednesday,” Gase said of what his message was to the team before they left after Saturday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
Now, as a playoff team, Gase will stay on message and look for the Dolphins finish the regular season 1-0 this weekend.