I’m speaking from the spirit of a competitor. Motivation largely comes from within, a will to power as Nietzsche might say, for some a conquering of the inferior, to others a dance of the metaphysical. But there comes a time in every competitor’s world that a particular defeat stains your psyche, its demons taunting you. It consumes you. I must’ve ran 8 miles the day after we lost the AAU Championship.
The zeitgeist of an NFL professional is certainly much different from a 13 year-olds, but still - going into an off-season with nightmares of wouldas, shouldas, and couldas, or engulfing embarrassment, has a way of inspiring a desire to change future outcomes.
My read on the 2016 Miami Dolphins was a young and resilient team, which I thought reflected the personality of Adam Gase. No shock there. Multiple players on both sides of the ball stepped up and made plays when it counted, and the sum was greater than the individual parts.
The front office will certainly do its part in shaping the roster, but how does Ryan Tannehill train this off-season with the echoes of his team losing without him in the Playoffs? How does Jay Ajayi condition this off-season getting stuffed in the 1st Playoff game for Miami since 2008? How does Tony Lippett feel about getting abused by Antonio Brown? How do Laremy Tunsil, DeVante Parker, Xavien Howard, Ja’Wuan James, Kiko Alonso, and Jordan Phillips handle the residual stench of one-and-done Playoff defeat?
There’s no better way to exorcize demons than punching them in the face. For me, the most salient question entering this off-season is: does a young team taste complacency after making the Playoffs, or does the Playoff appetizer churn the hunger for a Playoff feast?