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Category Archives: Miami Dolphins

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins

Seeing Jon Gruden back in the NFL, a major coup for the Oakland Raiders, has me wondering again.

What is the surest solution for any team looking to shake off the doldrums and make a serious run at the Super Bowl? And, to go along with that, why didn’t it work for the Miami Dolphins when they got their last splashy hire, Nick Saban?

Wayne Huizenga left the league when he couldn’t come up for answers to those questions. He’s the former Dolphins owner who made the huge headline hires of Jimmy Johnson and Saban at different times, and who had Dan Marino as his quarterback for a decade, but still never broke through to the top.

Huizenga was trying to buy a little magic, just as the Raiders are now with their $100 million investment in Gruden. Remember, Oakland is where Gruden started his head coaching career, but the late Al Davis tired of him after a couple of brief postseason appearances and let his popular young coach leave for Tampa Bay.

So what happened? Magic, more or less. A Super Bowl title in his first season there. A flash of charisma, too, that had you thinking dynasty.

A solid roster already in place surely helped. The Bucs had made the playoffs in four of the previous five seasons under Tony Dungy, who got the boot despite an overall regular-season record of 54-42. Right off the bat, Gruden could depend on Pro Bowl defenders like Warren Sapp and John Lynch and Derrick Brooks, who combined to make Tampa Bay No. 1 in fewest points and yards allowed.

There was, however, no elite quarterback. Gruden used Brad Johnson for most of that Super Bowl season, and turned to Rob Johnson and Shaun King for three emergency starts when injuries struck.

There was no immediate promise of help from the NFL draft, either. Tampa Bay traded its first- and second-round picks to Oakland for the rights to sign Gruden away.

Altogether, it seems that Gruden grabbed hold of some very rare lightning in his debut season with the Bucs, because he was only 45-51 after that, with a couple of wild-card playoff losses.

Clearly, this gig is harder than Bill Belichick makes it look. That’s why, in retrospect, it would have been astounding for Saban to thrive immediately with the Dolphins, and why it’s disappointing that he didn’t stick around to see what would happen when a few more things came his way.

No fewer than 11 coaches who already had Super Bowl titles or would eventually win one were working in the league when Saban showed up. All of them had figured out as much as anyone can about succeeding in the NFL, yet two of them – Gruden and three-time Super Bowl champion Joe Gibbs – could do more than match Saban’s 15-17 record in the seasons of 2005 and 2006.

Bill Parcells was 18-14 with Dallas over that same stretch. Bill Cowher was 19-13 with a Super Bowl title during those two years. Tom Coughlin and Brian Billick were 19-13 and failed between them to win a single playoff game.

Trying to be smarter than every other coach is not a viable long-term strategy in this league, unless you’re Belichick and Tom Brady, and having a great organization merely gives you a chance.

Look at Saban’s staff in 2005. His defensive line coach was Dan Quinn, who nearly won the Super Bowl last year as Atlanta’s head coach and has the Falcons on another title hunt this month. Two other future NFL head coaches – Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan – worked assistant jobs on offense. And no matter what anybody thinks of Will Muschamp, the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator in 2005, he and South Carolina just got a bowl victory over Jim Harbaugh, the savant of Ann Arbor and a former NFL head coach himself.

If there are lessons in all of this for Adam Gase, and for those who believe him to be suddenly in over his head, it’s that the NFL makes every coach look confused from time to time, especially those, like Saban, who didn’t have a top quarterback. Makes some very accomplished coaches decide to stay out altogether, too, men like Bobby Bowden and Bear Bryant and Joe Paterno and Tom Osborne.

So it’s good luck to Gruden and the Raiders. He’s a good coach but they have no guarantee of a brilliant relationship, even with glitzy Las Vegas in their future.

That’s because the Raiders are coming off a 6-10 season, just like Miami, and because there are no sure solutions for turning a mediocre team into a monster overnight. None at all.

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Cheap Miami Dolphins Jersey Wholesale From China

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins

A pack of Miami Dolphins notes as the team begins preparations for Sunday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders:

With Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi being introduced in Philadelphia today following his trade Tuesday, the Dolphins are moving on toward finding his successor.

And that successor’s name is Damien Kenyan Senorise Williams Drake Perry.

Coach Adam Gase on Wednesday declined to say the new starting running back will be — perhaps because it might not matter immediately until Kenyan Drake or Damien Williams or Senorise Perry separate from one another and fall into more defined roles.

“We’ll see how it works out,” Gase said. “We’re going to go through practice this week and see what fits. I like the three guys we got, their skills sets. We’ll be able to maximize what they do well.”

So what do these guys do well?

Gase said he was told when he arrived that “when the lights come on on Sunday, [Williams] is one of the guys you want with you.”

The coach added, “he’s done nothing but make plays.”

Williams has rushed 12 times for 32 yards (2.7 yards per carry) without a touchdown this season.

On Drake, Gase said assuming he’ll be the starter is “speculation,” but added, “We feel he fits the mold we’re looking for in that backfield.”

Drake has 10 rushes for 25 yards this season (2.5 YPC average).

And Perry, according to Gase, “has knowledge of this offense. He’s been with me enough to where when you know what a guy can do, there’s a comfort level there.”

So it’s going to be a group situation for now.

“I like the fact they’re able to catch the ball, they’re able to run good routes, they’re able to run the ball inside and outside. They’re physical. It’s something we like their skill sets,” Gase said.

So what’s Gase’s explanation for trading Ajayi?

“I think it was just time for us to move on,” the coach said. “We’ve had conversations about what we’re going to do down the road. We felt this was a good opportunity. We kind of put some feelers out to see where other teams were at. We got some younger players there we felt we’re going to move forward with and that was the decision we came to.”

So are the Dolphins better today than before they traded Ajayi?

“I like where we’re at right now,” Gase said before adding, “We didn’t inquire about anyone else. We’ll see how it goes from here on out but as for right now, I like the group I got.”

Gase’s explanation for ultimately moving on from Ajayi hinted at what I reported the Dolphins felt as reasons for dumping Ajayi but didn’t come out and actually say it.

“We’ve had ups and downs but that’s with a lot of players,” Gase said of Ajayi. “It’s a lot of players and getting on the same page and sharing the philosophy of how we want to do things. He tried to do what we were asking him to do a majority of the time … It was just time for us to go separate ways.”

—–

The Dolphins are 4-3 and coming off a debacle on prime time last Thursday. So changes are afoot in how the team approaches preparations.

“We’re not going to stay the same,” Gase said. “We’re not going to keep doing the same thing and bang our head against the wall. We made some changes with how we’re meeting, how we’re going to walk thru, how we’re going to schedule things, how we’re going to practice. We’re going to make changes.

“I’m not talking about personnel, I talking about the way we’re going about things. The way we’re teaching. They way we game plan. That’s what we should be doing. If we sit here and do the same thing over and over again … we’re really kidding ourselves. We have to find the right way to teach, the right way to learn and find what allows us to execute on Sunday.”

I like this. There’s something to be said for having a conviction about how one approaches work. But when that approach shows itself to be less than perfect, changes and adjustments are in order. So, good.

“When things start to go off track, it’s you job to go find solutions,” Gase said.

—–

Quarterback Jay Cutler is practicing on Wednesday and is scheduled to start against the Raiders. But Gase seemed to draw back from the idea Cutler is definitely going to be the starter.

“We’ll see how he feels in practice, after practice,” Gase said. “Matt took a lot of shots last week and he’s trying to recover from that as well. He’s still a little sore. He took too many shots. We’ll see how this week goes and Matt’s always ready to go and we’ll see how Jay feels.”

Gase said there is no significant chance Cutler can cause further damage to his two cracked ribs if he takes another hit in the area.

“It sounds like we’re going to be ok in that area. I’m sure it’s not going to feel good … We need to do a good job to make sure he’s protected. Hopefully we have a good sense of urgency.”

Jarvis Landry was not traded. And Gase repeated the team’s leading receiver, unsigned and scheduled for free agency in 2018, remains very much in the team’s plan.

Sort of …

“We told him a long time ago he wasn’t going anywhere,” Gase said. “We have a vision for what we want that wide receiver room to look like and we expect him to be a huge part of that. However that works out down the road, that’s hard for me to say because I don’t negotiate the contracts.

“I’ll blame Mike [Tannenbaum] on that one.”

Yes, there’s uncertainty there. But

“I like that group. I like that group a lot. We have a lot of guys that are trying to do it right and will fight the entire game. I think that’s why we see some moments where things look really good. We just have to find ways to improve. We just got to keep being on the details and accountable to each other.”

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