Adam Gase is the NFL coach of the year. He's made the Miami Dolphins relevant again. Before the first game this past fall, most pundits expected the coach to spend the year determining whether Ryan Tannehill was really worth his $90 million contract.
It seemed the Dolphins would disappoint their fans again when Miami lost four of its first five games. Any other team would have folded the tent and called it a day.
Yet Gase never lost his composure. He made adjustments that turned around the team's fortunes. The coach led Miami to win nine of its past 11 games despite a defense that gave up the most yards in team history and the loss of six starters to season-ending injuries, including Tannehill just when he was showing signs of becoming a star player.
Gase, who worked for several other NFL teams before signing with the Dolphins a year ago this week, has brought out the best in his players since dismissing starting offensive linemen Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner for inferior play. After Gase suspended Jay Ajayi for the first game, the running back had three games with 200-plus rushing yards. He is the first Dolphin to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season since Ronnie Brown in 2006.
The receiving corps is one of the best in the league, with Jarvis Landry leading the way. Last year's first-round pick, DeVante Parker, is having a breakout season. And Gase has the defense playing way above its talent level, especially Kiko Alonzo, the Cuban-American journeyman linebacker who looks like an all-star.
The coach led Miami to win nine of its past 11 games despite a defense that gave up the most yards in team history.
Former Dolphins greats who played under Don Shula have praised Gase. They say he has the same no-nonsense, professional approach to football as the legendary Fins head coach. It didn't even cause a distraction when four players created controversy earlier in the season by refusing to stand for the National Anthem to protest police brutality against minorities.
Owner Stephen Ross and CEO Tom Garfinkel deserve credit for hiring Gase. They made the right choice. Miami might not make it past the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first-round playoff game this weekend, but the Dolphins' future is bright with Gase in charge.
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