Culture Turnaround Or Cautious Optimism?

When Adam Gase was hired for the Head Coaching job with the Miami Dolphins on January 9th 2016, as a fan, I was excited, I did a little research and learned that he was the man behind Peyton Manning’s career year in Denver as Offensive Coordinator. After a little more digging, I also learned that he was behind Jay Cutler’s one year resurgence in Chicago.

Jay Cutler had always had an up and down career, so to think Adam Gase was going to turn him into Peyton Manning year one of being in that offense was silly thinking. Jay put up good numbers under Gase, cutting down interceptions, he had a 2:1 TD to INT ratio which while not great, it was an improvement, Jay’s Quarterback Rating was the highest it ever was at 92.3, so here I was, I did my digging and I was excited for Adam Gase to come to Miami, if he did that with Jay Cutler in one year, Tannehill’s ceiling was the limit under that offense

Adam Gase came in after Miami’s 26th ranked total Offense and 25th ranked total Defense. Interesting fact, Adam Gase was the Offensive Coordinator when Miami went into Denver Week 12 of the 2014 season, in that game Miami experienced what some reporters call “The Mile High Drop”¬†Miami came into the game ranked 5th in the NFL allowing 91.2 rushing yards per game.

Denver rushed for 201 yards that game, which caused Miami’s remaining opponents to copy that blue print and gash Miami. After that game, Miami finished the season allowing 165.33 rushing yards per game which ranked them last in the NFL but thanks to averages, Miami finished the season ranked 24th in the league at stopping the run. That was the optimism of Gase becoming Head Coach, a smart coach who wasn’t afraid to expose weaknesses in a defense.

The 2016 started like most seasons for Miami 1-4 their only win was in a cardiac arrest inducing Overtime thriller against the Cleveland Browns who were starting a back up quarterback and at some points in the game put Terrelle Pryor at QB because their 2nd string quarterback was in a out with an injury.

Ironically enough the win came thanks to Jay Ajayi who rushed 11 yards for the score. The irony of that thrilling victory by the hands of Jay Ajayi was that 3 weeks later against the Pittsburgh Steelers defense who was always stout against the run the Dolphins rushed for 222 yards 204 by the man Jay Ayaji himself. Miami would go on lose 2 games out of the remaining 11 and also lose Ryan Tannehill to a partial ACL tear with 3 games left in the season. Despite that, Miami went on to clinch what would be their first playoff birth in 9 years, when Tony Sparano and Chad Pennington led the team to a 11-5 incredible season turnaround after going 1-15 the year before.

The key word in all of this, is “Tony Sparano and Chad Pennington.” See, Miami came into the 2009 season riding high after finally reaching the post season in years. Tony Sparano and Chad Pennington who was arguably one of the most, if not the most accurate Quarterback in the NFL at that point were poised to have an incredible year, had Miami finally taken down the New England Patriots atop the AFC East? That was the question in everyones mind.

Unfortunately, unlike most fairy tales, this would not have a happy ending, in Week 2 against the San Diego Chargers (that will be weird to write and say from now on) Chad Pennington suffered a shoulder injury, the same shoulder he had always had problems with, Miami would go 7-9 and not make the playoffs and Miami never had another winning season after that.

Fast forward to 2017, a year removed from Miami’s first playoff birth in 9 years and a 10-6 record. Miami is poised to make a run and continue to climb. Remember how I said the thing about fairy tales? Well, week 2 of training camp while scrambling during practice Ryan Tannehill hurt the same leg with the ACL tear that he had rehabbed through the offseason. Tannehill took time to dwell on his decision before finally opting for season ending ACL reconstructive surgery.

Miami fans had their hands on their head, to some it was 2009 all over again, another losing season, another QB, another coach. Something happened though, people since last year have trusted Adam Gase, he doesn’t say much which reminds you a bit of the Belichicks of the world, keep his answers to a sentence maybe two if he’s feeling like it. So Adam Gase called the QB he had success with as an OC and someone who knew his offense, and no, his name is not Peyton Manning.

Jay Cutler, the man whose career was briefly resurrected by Adam Gase by having one of his best years. It took an injury, and 10 millions dollars plus incentives to bring Jay Cutler out of the broadcast booth and into the football field.

2017 will be an interesting season for Miami, we’ll see if Gase truly is the head coach that turned the culture around or a one year wonder like Sparano in 2008. Like some of you, I’m cautiously Optimistic