Looking at all that has happened to the Miami Dolphins so far this season is starting to have opposing fans perplexed. In fact, it is confusing many people from odds-makers, to fans, coaches, and analysts. But this is a team that has bought into the mindset of the man hired to right the ship, and to say that head coach Adam Gase is a bit of an oddity himself is an understatement.
After years of coaching searches, player searches, roster additions and subtractions, Miami has finally seemed to have rested on what works for them. That something is an attitude of indifference without the aura of ego that it usually emboldens. However, those that followed the team last season should know, defying the odds is what this team is now all about.
First, the road to the playoffs last year was riddled with a bumps. But after what seemed like a one-and-done start to the year, fans were treated to some of the most inexplicable football that Miami has offered in a long time. Statistically, there is no way they should have even been in a playoff race. Mid-ranked offense and bottom tier defense should have counted them out. But there they sat at the end, posting a record good enough for a wild card spot.
This despite losing starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who at that point was just starting to click with the young receivers, and run game, and did so without much help from a tight end, a staple in most quarterbacks arsenals. This without not one but two safeties and a cornerback roster featuring a castaway from the Philadelphia Eagles, a converted wide receiver, and a rookie who spent the early part of the season injured. This despite the team’s only healthy linebacker basically playing through bruised ribs, and one handed. This despite the defensive ends consisting of a seemingly immortal beast freak of nature in Cameron Wake, and a guy who could not seem to cut it on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Andre Branch, as well as defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who some would say is overpaid, and Jordan Phillips, drafted in the second round because work ethic was an issue.
The offense wasn't fairing any better. After already mentioning the loss of Tannehill for the year, and lack of tight end, Miami was also playing behind a back up center sandwiched between two guards never having played the position before, one a rookie, and two tackles where one was known for being a risk of injury, and the other simply a risk to have on the field according to some left everyone wondering how on earth the Dolphins were ever able to score.
But they did it. Despite all if the difficulties, along with having a rookie head coach, and a guy coaching the defense who had never done so before, Miami went from 1-4, to 10-6 on the year.
Fast forward to this year, and gone is the defensive coordinator to greener pastures, gone is another coach who let himself go after moving to whiter pastures (too soon?). Losing the starting left tackle from last year, having the starting center go into concussion protocol, having a linebacker get suspended for going MIA, after they already lost a game to mother nature, having the starting corner get benched, the backup injured, and one of the starting safeties join the team while suspended, losing the starting quarterback before the season started, a starting wide receiver now sidelined, a totally revamped tight end position group, still no guards worth mentioning, a starter at quarterback who has 4 touchdowns to his credit and only two within the first four games, a linebacker that almost ate himself out of a job, and yet....
Here they sit at 3-2.
I know, I know. They haven't won a perfect contest, but the point is, they have won. Despite chants from the fans to bench the starting quarterback for the backup, they have won. The players have found themselves persevering despite statistics saying they shouldn't. Yet again. Opposing teams and experts are perplexed, some fans too. However I am here to say that the ingredient everyone is overlooking is quite literally in front of their very eyes. It is Adam Gase. His faith and his belief is so strong, that it is rubbing off on the team. The us against the world attitude is something we as fans could use, especially after all that we have been through since Jimmy Johnson was head coach. The pieces of the puzzle that didn't seem to mesh anywhere else have come together to paint a picture that both mystifies and re-defines the way we should look at football, and in its ugliness, breeds a thing of beauty. I find myself on the edge of my seat more times than not, and it is a team wide spectacle. Supposed experts will rattle off a list of names in order to try to explain what was happening, but the truth is, with this team, one hand washes the other, and if one hand isn't as clean as it should be, the other just keeps scrubbing regardless, knowing in its heart that the other hand will repay the favor at some point.
As fans, we set certain expectations for the team, I am here to say if you continue to do so, you will be sorely disappointed. Early and often. My advice? Take a step back, stop looking at certain spots and enjoy the beauty of its ugliness. Otherwise you might miss out on what is seemingly a magical carpet ride fit for a rollercoaster built for all ages.