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Perspective: Time to reset? How about the Dolphins just get fixed?

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NFL: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone remember the offseason between the 2015 and 2016 seasons? I mean, really, it was not that long ago right? The Miami Dolphins were coming off yet another bad season under Joe Philbin, a season that led to the coach being fired just four games into the year and tight ends coach Dan Campbell taking over as the interim head coach. On January 9, 2016, the Dolphins hired Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase to come be their new head coach.

Gase was the top candidate on the market that year, and the Dolphins got the coach they wanted.

I went back to the article about the Dolphins hiring Gase, as these are a few of the comments in the thread:

To be fair, there were some in the comments that worried about the hire, but for the most part, Dolphins fans were ready to get behind the team getting the top candidate on the market.

All Gase did was get the Dolphins into the postseason in his first year, helping guide the team to a 10-6 record and getting quarterback Ryan Tannehill to his best career season, with a highest completion percentage, yards per attempt, and passer rating in his five years.

Now, just 22 months after Gase was hired, here are some of the comments and tweets being sent after the Dolphins lost to the New England Patriots on Sunday:

At least it is not just all focused on Gase:

And, even Tannehill, who is injured and has not played this season, cannot escape the vitriol:

Most NFL “rebuilds” take three years. You have the year the coach takes over and he starts to make changes, you have the second year where more changes are made and the team starts to look like how the coach wants, and you have the third season, where he puts the next round of roster changes on the team and the team is his.

Apparently, Dolphins fans want to give a coach 22 months.

When Gase took over the Dolphins, the team looked like:

QB: Ryan Tannehill
RB: Lamar Miller
LT: Branden Albert
LG: Dallas Thomas
C: Mike Pouncey
RG: Billy Turner
RT: Ulrick John
TE: Jordan Cameron
WR: Rishard Matthews
WR: Jarvis Landry
WR: Kenny Stills

DE: Derrick Shelby (Cameron Wake IR)
DT: Earl Mitchell
DT: Ndamukong Suh
DE: Olivier Venron
LB: Jelani Jenkins
LB: Kelvin Sheppard
LB: Spencer Paysinger (Koa Misi IR)
CB: Brent Grimes
CB: Brice McCain
S: Reshad Jones
S: Walt Aikens (Louis Delmas IR)

The opening day lineup for 2016, just seven months later, Gase’s lineup looked like:

QB: Ryan Tannehill
RB: Arian Foster
LT: Branden Albert
LG: Laremy Tunsil
C: Mike Pouncey
RG: Jermon Bushrod
RT: Ja’Wuan James
TE: Jordan Cameron
WR: DeVante Parker
WR: Jarvis Landry
WR: Kenny Stills

DE: Cameron Wake
DT: Earl Mitchell
DT: Ndamukong Suh
DE: Mario Williams
LB: Jelani Jenkins
LB: Kiko Alonso
LB: Koa Misi
CB: Byron Maxwell
CB: Tony Lippett
S: Reshad Jones
S: Isa Abdul-Quddus

And, now, this year, after two offseasons of drafts and free agency, the Dolphins roster on opening day was expected to be:

QB: Ryan Tannehill
RB: Jay Ajayi
LT: Laremy Tunsil
LG: Anthony Steen
C: Mike Pouncey
RG: Jermon Bushrod
RT: Ja’Wuan James
TE: Julius Thomas
WR: DeVante Parker
WR: Jarvis Landry
WR: Kenny Stills

DE: Cameron Wake
DT: Jordan Phillips
DT: Ndamukong Suh
DE: Andre Branch
LB: Kiko Alonso
LB: Raekwon McMillan
LB: Lawrence Timmons
CB: Byron Maxwell
CB: Xavien Howard
S: Reshad Jones
S: Nate Allen

Of course, that did not happen. The Dolphins lost Tannehill to the knee injury that ended his 2016 campaign early. They lost rookie middle linebacker McMillan to an ACL tear. They lost Lippett to an Achilles tear. Misi was never able to receive medical clearance. And that was all just before the season started.

And, as of today, the Dolphins’ starting lineup looks like:

QB: Jay Cutler
RB: Kenyan Drake
LT: Laremy Tunsil
LG: Ted Larsen
C: Mike Pouncey
RG: Jermon Bushrod
RT: Jesse Davis
TE: Julius Thomas
WR: DeVante Parker
WR: Jarvis Landry
WR: Kenny Stills

DE: Cameron Wake
DT: Jordan Phillips
DT: Ndamukong Suh
DE: Andre Branch
LB: Kiko Alonso
LB: Chase Allen
LB: Lawrence Timmons
CB: Cordrea Tankersley
CB: Xavien Howard
S: Reshad Jones
S: T.J. McDonald

The injured reserve list for the Dolphins reads like a practice squad:

Nate Allen, safety
Lamin Barrow, linebacker
Isaiah Ford, wide receiver
William Hayes, defensive end
Ja’Wuan James, tackle
Tony Lippett, cornerback
Raekwon McMillan, linebacker
Koa Misi, linebacker
Eric Smith, tackle
Antony Steen, center/guard
Ryan Tannehill, quarterback

Now, add in the hurricane that caused the team to uproot from South Florida - players, coaches, executives, families, everyone - and head out to California for a week. The lack of a bye week because the league rescheduled the team’s Week 1 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Week 11. No home game until Week 6, October 15, after the Florida Panthers had already played their first home game of the regular season. The London game that took away a home game from the Dolphins.

It has been an incredibly confusing - and hopefully unique - season for Miami.

That said, there are plenty of things that need to be fixed, but blowing up the team and hitting the reset button is not the right answer.

The trade of Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles may or may not prove to be the right move.

Trading for Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso last year - also a trade with the Eagles - provided a stopgap starting cornerback until the team felt ready to hand the starting job to the younger players, like Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley, and a starting linebacker. Maxwell was released when his play fell off and the team had to decide to keep a struggling veteran, or accept the growing pains of two young - Howard is in his second season and Tankersley is a rookie - cornerbacks. They chose to look to the future with the younger players, and now, while they are making mistakes - like the two blown coverages that lef to wide open receivers and huge gains against the New England Patriots last week - they are learning.

Adding William Hayes, who landed on injured reserve yesterday, to the roster was a great move, bringing in a run-stuffing defensive end who provided depth to the pass rush as well. Charles Harris as the team’s first-round draft pick will continue to develop at the NFL level and should be the heir apparent to Cameron Wake as the starting defensive end eventually.

And, when did we get to the point that we are ready to call second-year players, and even rookies, busts? Harris has been called a bust. Tankersley and Howard too. Maybe, we can try giving players a chance to develop a little?

The offense is struggling, in part because they are missing key starters, particularly their quarterback. And, in part because Gase, who calls the plays for the offense during the games, has been struggling with those calls. Things need to change here. The team has to get away from the dink-and-dunk passing game, allowing the offense to open up some more. The offensive line needs to protect better to allow that, but Gase has to trust his quarterback and his receivers to make plays. They have not shown they can do that consistently, so that could be part of the play calling issue, but if something does not change, this team will continue to be among the league’s worst in every offensive category.

Gase has to make changes. He has to make them this year, and he has to make them for next year. But, it is not time to start all over with a new system, a new coach, a new roster. Gase needs to be given the chance to address these issues, and he needs to be given an opportunity to use his starting quarterback, the quarterback he elected to come to Miami and mentor, in Ryan Tannehill.

Miami’s roster has holes, there is no denying that. However, they do get the fills for some of those holes back next year, including Tannehill at quarterback, McMillan at middle linebacker, Steen at center/guard, Lippett at cornerback, and James at right tackle. They do have some decisions to make, such as restructuring James’ contract and getting him off of the fifth-year option from his rookie contract. They have to consider ways to bring down the salary cap numbers for Tannehill and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. They must decide if Cameron Wake is still a viable, starting defensive end, or is he just a pass rush specialist at this point?

The Dolphins have to make the right moves this offseason. They have to add at least one starting guard, two if they do not see Isaac Asiata moving into that role next year. They need to add running backs. They need to add a starting tight end. They need to make sure they have the right linebacker corps. They need to decide if DeVante Parker is actually going to be a number one receiver. They have to decide what to do with Jarvis Landry, who is scheduled to be a free agent.

This offseason does not even need to be focused on free agency - other than re-signing the players they want to keep and adding depth to the roster. Instead, the team needs to build in the draft.

If the Dolphins can come away with a 2018 opening day roster that looks something like this, they are going to be much closer to a successful team than it feels like they are now:

QB: Ryan Tannehill + Drafted Developmental QB
RB: Kenyan Drake + Damien Williams + Drafted RB
LT: Laremy Tunsil
LG: Isaac Asiata
C: Mike Pouncey + Anthony Steen
RG: Drafted G
RT: Jesse Davis + Sam Young
TE: Drafted TE
WR: DeVante Parker +Drafted WR
WR: Jarvis Landry
WR: Kenny Stills + Leonte Carroo

DE: Cameron Wake + Charles Harris
DT: Jordan Phillips + Davon Godchaux
DT: Ndamukong Suh + Vincent Taylor
DE: Andre Branch + Drafted DE
LB: Kiko Alonso + Drafted LB
LB: Raekwon McMillan + Mike Hull + Chase Allen
LB: Lawrence Timmons + Stephone Anthony
CB: Cordrea Tankersley + Tony Lippett
CB: Xavien Howard + Bobby McCain
S: Reshad Jones + Michael Thomas
S: T.J. McDonald

This Dolphins team is having a bad year, and there are a lot of reasons why they are struggling. But, it is not time to hit the reset button less than two years after having hit the reset button. Now is the time to continue the reset the team started when they hired Gase to be the head coach. Give Gase the chance to finish building the team he wants, the team he thought he would have at the start of this season, and the team he envisioned having for his third season in 2018.

Things are bad, and things need to be fixed. But, it is not time to blow it all up.