Adam Gase has been fired as coach of the Miami Dolphins after three seasons, he told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington on Monday, and the team will begin a search to find the franchise’s fourth full-time coach this decade.
Gase couldn’t escape the mediocrity that has followed the Dolphins since 2000. He finished 23-25, with his lone playoff game being a wild-card loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016.
The biggest indictment of Gase was that he often fielded an anemic offense despite being thought of as an offensive guru and quarterback whisperer when he got the job. The Dolphins finished 24th or worse in total offense in all three seasons under Gase, including finishing 31st in 2018.
Gase lost support in the locker room over the second half of the season. Three players told ESPN they felt Gase held some players, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill, at a different standard than others and that alienated some on the team. Those players said they felt there wouldn’t be a lot of hard feelings in the locker room if Gase was fired.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had high hopes for Gase early on and said he believed he could become his Bill Belichick in Miami. But Gase could never duplicate the success he had in Denver, where he helped Peyton Manning lead the highest scoring offense in NFL history.
Gase said prior to Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills that he didn’t “need to lobby for my job” and that if Ross “says there’s an issue, I’ll know.”
Ultimately, Gase’s biggest gripe with the 2018 season was with the health of his team, as he often said, “I wish everybody hadn’t gotten hurt.” He was hopeful Ross would understand the impact injuries had on the season, citing the 13 players who ended the year on injured reserve — many being key offensive contributors.
Gase, 40, should receive opportunities to be an offensive coordinator and maybe even a head coach this offseason. This was Gase’s first head-coaching job, and there is plenty of reason to believe he can have future success.
But fourth-quarter collapses at Indianapolis and Cincinnati, where question marks about playcalling were apparent, also played a significant role in missing the playoffs. Miami had five games this season where it finished with fewer than 200 yards.
In the end, Gase tied himself to Tannehill and did not waver on his quarterback through rocky times. Tannehill’s inability to stay healthy — missing 25 games in Gase’s three seasons — and inconsistency hamstrung the Dolphins offense and paved the way to Gase losing his job.
The next Dolphins coach will likely get a chance to evaluate Tannehill and decide whether to select a quarterback high in April’s draft, take a chance in a weak quarterback free-agent pool, make a big-splash trade or keep Tannehill.
Ross will be heavily involved in the Dolphins’ coaching search, but he has told reporters that he would not have an interest in hiring Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. Ross, a Michigan grad and significant booster of the school that named its business program after him, is known to have an affinity for both Jim and John Harbaugh.
The Baltimore Ravens said last week that John Harbaugh would return for the 2019 season and that they were working on an extension. Jim Harbaugh has said he is planning to remain at Michigan.
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