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The Case For Believing In Gase

NFL: International Series-Miami Dolphins Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

You have to give Adam Gase credit; he and the Miami Dolphins have taken some hard shots over the past seven or eight months, in the form of injuries and various disruptions, but the third year coach keeps on fighting the good fight. Refusing to allow any of the aforementioned circumstances to become excuses for the Dolphins being near the bottom of the league in penalties committed, he has sent much of last year’s coaching staff packing, determined to field a better composed, more disciplined squad in 2018.

After having had time to reflect on Gase’s first two seasons in South Florida, I’ve come to the conclusion that, rather than being down on him for last year’s disappointing performance, we ought to be ecstatic over what the Dolphins managed to accomplish during the 2016 season, Gase’s first as a head coach.

Like so many other things in this world, coaching an NFL team is light years tougher than it appears to the casual observer. You’re responsible for keeping 53 guys of various ages and backgrounds -- many of whom earn substantially more than you do -- in line. You have to make snap decisions in mere seconds on game day, any one of which could easily blow up in your face and result in your being excoriated publicly by the vultures in the local papers who cover your team. Most of all, though, you have to be the penultimate salesman, to convince your guys that they can beat the team on the opposite sideline, even when they’re outmanned, outgunned and playing in a hostile environment. Perhaps the best comparison for what it’s like to be a leader of men is that you have to be a little bit like a faucet: never really turned all the way up or all the way off, but continually gauging just how much to keep the valve open, adjusting it accordingly depending on the situation. And if what you’re doing doesn’t work, will the owner decide to get rid of fifty-three players? Nope. You’ll be the very first to get fired, probably set for life financially but forced to slink away in ignominy, unless you’re fortunate enough to be hired as the head coach of another team.

That Gase’s record after two seasons stands at 16-16 is nothing less than a small miracle, if you ask me. After all, if the Dolphins had a powerhouse roster at the end of the 2015 season, Joe ‘Philbert’ Philbin would probably still be the coach. Keep in mind that Gase is still evaluating the roster he inherited when he took the job two years ago and is only now really able to fully assess what their strengths and weaknesses are, particularly in light of the fact that he’s had only thirteen regular season games by which to judge starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He also figures to have at least two new pass-catching targets that he’ll need work into the starting lineup this season since WR Jarvis Landry’s departure now appears to be a virtual certainty.

Has Gase made mistakes? Of course, he has, but at least he seems to have a plan. I’ll take a guy with a flawed plan over a guy who has no plan any day of the week. Like starting quarterbacks, there are only 32 head coaches in the National Football League. Is Adam Gase good enough to be one of them, and to eventually take the Dolphins to the promised land? Damn right he is. His pummeling of the Denver Broncos in December was only a glimpse of what he’s capable of, and I wish the season started today because I look for Gase to return to the sidelines with a vengeance this Fall.