Adam Gase is a first-time head coach in the NFL at the ripe old age of 38 and his comparative inexperience to others in the profession meant it was going to go one of two ways for the Miami Dolphins leader, the label of wunderkind or the tag of “in over his head.”
Through three games, the only thing keeping Gase from being winless in South Florida is the ineptitude of the Cleveland Browns, and already the young mentor is reaching to prove himself to a locker room which is likely starting to whisper.
“We just want guys to do it right,” Gase said on Monday. “So whoever wants to do it right, those are the guys that we’re going to put out there.”
Then Gase went off script with this doozy:
“Talent is irrelevant at this point,” he claimed.
There are two ways to take that in a league defined by its talent and neither is all that good for the Dolphins’ coach.
The first and the one every Dolphins fan should be hoping for is that Gase was simply talking off the cuff, got ahead of himself a little bit and simply got a little too cute for his own good. In that scenario, he really doesn’t believe that talent is irrelevant and will not at any point is his coaching career.
The worst-case scenario, however, is that Gase is one of those coaches with delusions of grandeur and believes his system is the star in Miami, and that the players are just interchangeable chess pieces.
Coaches like that tend to believe the only thing standing between them and success at any given time are players who are skewing away from the prime directive of the scheme, which is always unassailable.
Gase started his new zero-tolerance policy in-game by benching Ja’Wuan James for the overtime period in Sunday’s eventual 30-24 win against Cleveland, moments after the starting right tackle was beaten badly, resulting in a sack and fumble by Ryan Tannehill which nearly (and should have) cost the Dolphins the game in regulation.
“I’m over discussing any of this stuff with players,” Gase said. “We’re either going to start getting the job done, or we’re going to make changes.”
The coach, of course, wasn’t going to bench himself for actually calling a pass play in minus territory in that situation despite the fact his offensive line has struggled mightily through the first three games, and the chances of getting into field-goal position were negligible.
All coaches make mistakes and many may have even made that one but for the good mentors, something like that is a man in the mirror moment and Gase at least seems like a coach who doesn’t particularly like looking at his own reflection.
“We’ll see where it goes,” Gase the coach said. “We’ve got a couple of moving pieces. ..We’ll see what happens.”
Players are taking their warning from Gase somewhat seriously and ironically, one even offered up a little advice to the head coach.
“In the NFL, if you don’t do your job, they’re going to find a replacement,” cornerback Byron Maxwell said. “It’s a lot of guys that want to do your job and want to do the right thing.”
The veteran was talking about his peers, of course, but his assessment rings true for his boss as well.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.