The Miami Dolphins have dealt with their fair share of early-season setbacks.
First, the Dolphins’ season opener was derailed after Hurricane Irma tore through South Florida. Shortly after, starting linebacker Lawrence Timmons went AWOL as the Dolphins prepared for their first game of the season. Then, former offensive line coach Chris Foerster was caught doing drugs within the Dolphins’ facility and subsequently resigned from his position. Despite all of this, the Dolphins sit at 3-2 and are well within striking range of taking the AFC East lead.
“I feel like if it’s happened, we’ve seen it,” Gase told the Palm Beach Post’s Hal Habib. “I’m not going to press my luck, though, and say, ‘What else can happen?’”
Gase went on to applaud his players for their ability to take all of the off-field distractions in stride and continue to focus on the task at hand.
“Guys have done a great job,” Gase said. “They come in, whatever’s happened, we address it, talk about it and they do a great job of moving on, especially with the amount of guys we have that are probably 25 or younger. We’ve got a lot of guys that are fresh out of college, for the most part, and the veteran players have done a great job.”
The second-year head coach listed players like Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake as veteran leaders, but also named newcomers like Anthony Fasano and Jay Cutler as players that have helped keep the team focused.
“Guys that have been around and have seen a lot of things,” Gase said. “They’ve been able to put things in perspective and help guys focus on what we’ve got to do.”
As Habib noted, Gase’s faith in his players was on fully display in Week 6’s comeback win against the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons. On two different occasions the Dolphins went for it on fourth down. The offense was able to convert on both occasions and those two drives lead to 10 crucial points.
“I felt like, ‘What do we have to lose?’ ” Gase said. “I felt good about the plays we had in. I felt good about who we had the ball going to, and we might as well be aggressive.”
For tight end Julius Randle, Gase’s decision to be aggressive with the game in the balance spoke volumes.
“The message is that, ‘I believe in you guys,’ ” Randle said. “Some of those fourth-down conversions were at crucial points in the game. We had to have them.”
After seeing how his team responds when the going gets tough, it’s no surprise that Gase trusts his players to succeed when it matters most.
There’s still a lot of football to be played this season and the Dolphins are far from booking their ticket to the NFL Playoffs. As we approach the midway point of the season, however, Gase will surely look to turn the Dolphins’ early-season setbacks into something that brings his team closer together as players and closer to their shared goals.