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.”