The Miami Dolphins finished the first quarter of the 2016 season with a 1-3 record. Where do they go from here?
Note: We used the old logo in our graphics. TCBY patently refuses to acknowledge or accept the current abomination of a logo as the team’s mark.
Based on emails and mentions from fans and even texts from people in the Dolphins organization, word that best describes the mood is anger.
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) September 30, 2016
FIRST FOUR GAMES: FAST REVIEW
The Dolphins opened the season with a tough loss in Seattle. The defense kept Seattle’s offense in check most of the game and, as the offense finally found its legs in the fourth quarter, the defense collapsed in the final minutes and allowed Seattle to escape.
In New England, the Jimmy Garoppolo-led Patriots stormed out to a 24-0 lead until Kiko Alonso dropped the second-string QB like a bag of potatoes and knocked him out of the game along with all the hot air spewing from the Chowderheads. The Dolphins rallied in the second half, but again, fell short in the waning moments.
The Cleveland Browns combined with the Dolphins to showcase two teams that absolutely despise traditional uniforms. The game appeared just as ugly as both teams worked exceedingly hard to concede the win to the other. In the end, the Dolphins managed to score on their second OT possession.
Still sick to my stomach over Fede shoving a kicker. Bonehead plays and undisciplined players continue to haunt us Dolphins fans
— MASSphinsFans (@MaDolphinFans) October 4, 2016
In another egregious uniform display, the Dolphins donned their day-glow Color Rush uniforms and embarrassed themselves on national TV in Cincinnati. The Bengals played poorly enough to lose, but since the Dolphins are incapable of taking advantage of situations such as this, they skulked home with a 1-3 record.
GET SET FOR A WINNING STREAK
First-year coach – the 38-year-old hot coordinator who has been applauded for helping a Hall of Famer in Peyton Manning and a sour puss in Jay Cutler – predicts the Dolphins offense is about to explode.
Gase explained that both Denver and Chicago struggled to absorb his genius early on, but once they understood…well…both the Broncos and Bears reeled off wins.
We expect the Dolphins to win 5 of their next 6 games. Not because Gase says so, but because the Dolphins enjoy a massive 44-day homestand hosting Tennessee, Buffalo, Gang Green along with their knuckle-dragging fans and Pittsburgh.
WARNING: ENJOY THE WINNING STREAK DO NOT, REPEAT DO NOT, THINK THE DOLPHINS ARE GOING TO FINISH ANYWHERE OVER THE .500 MARK
We strongly believe the second half of the schedule will yield another late-season meltdown. With tough road games ahead, we anticipate the team will finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs for eighth-straight season.
We strongly urge emotional caution here. As team climbs to 5-3, Gase and Co. will be hailed as geniuses and turnaround artists. This is all temporary. The fact remains: The Dolphins lack roster depth or franchise-altering talent beyond DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry or Reshad Jones.
THIS SEASON MEANS NOTHING
Gase’s first season was always meant to be nothing more than an evaluation process.
What’s under the microscope? Everything.
Can Mike Tannenbaum Assemble a Team? The former Jets GM seems to have done the right thing and consolidated front office power. He has his staff set and can claim the 2016 Draft as his own. How will his assemblage of players fare in the long term? Want to learn more about Tannenbaum? We suggest reading a book about the 2011 Jets entitled “Collision Low Crossers” by Nicholas Dawidoff.
Can Gase Handle the Job? Just 38 years old and a lot on his plate. The defensive coordinator – Vance Joseph – enjoys his first stint as a defensive coordinator. The coaching staff lacks that veteran, steady hand that can help Gase bridge the gap between offense and defense. Gase also has to coach quarterback Ryan Tannehill to new heights. Is this all too much for a young staff?
Tannehill On the Clock: Gase is doing and saying all the right things in his attempt to wring the most out of Tannehill. But, at some point, Gase has to turn to Tannenbaum and either declare that Tannehill can fulfill the remainder of his contract or exclaim “get me a quarterback right f’ing now!”
Suppose Tannehill remains flat and doesn’t experience the vaunted Gase Effect ala Hall of Famer Peyton Manning or sour puss Jay Cutler (again, we fail to understand the buzz related to Cutler’s performance last season).
But suppose Tannehill stays flat or regresses? Then what?
Well, Gase will immediately and through back channels, demand a new QB in the second year of his five-year deal.
The Dolphins will then rush to acquire a starting QB (as if that’s an easy task). And, of course, because Gase will be moving into the second year of his five-year deal, he’ll work like heck to bring the player up to speed in time to perform well in the third year of his head coaching contract.
There’s a very good chance the Dolphins could end up with a QB named Deshaun or Deshone, depending on where they draft. Right now Deshone Kizer of Notre Dame and Deshaun Watson of Clemson rank as the most talked-about QB prospects for the 2017 draft.
STOP THE CUTLER TALK RIGHT NOW
This idea that Jay Cutler might be a good fit for the Dolphins based on his relationship with Gase is not only fantasy, but a complete and utter nightmare.
Cutler never seems happy. He doesn’t appear to be a leader, either and, quite frankly, he doesn’t win.
And, when you compare stats between Cutler and Tannehill, we believe Tannehill is already the better player. Despite popular belief, Tannehill’s numbers indicate signs of progress.
Omar Kelly is right when he Tweets:
However, let the Jay Cutler – Brian Hoyer mess they have in Chicago be a lesson to Dolphins fans. The alternative might not be unfavorable.
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) October 4, 2016
WHAT’S THE LONG-TERM FUTURE OF THIS FRANCHISE?
This season marks an opportunity for the Dolphins to re-build organizational culture that will ultimately place this franchise on a long-term winning trajectory. Regaining a winning culture ultimately hinges on two things:
1. Gase must establish himself as the “culture setter.” The Dolphins must forge their own identity of how they play, draft, behave on and off the field. Can Tannenbaum and Gase succeed with the power and control they’ve amassed?
2. The Dolphins must combine this year’s draft assets with at least two more solid drafts in order to contend by 2018. Year 3 will really serve as the determinate season for Gase. Once he gets to Year 4, the question of a contract extension or a palatable buyout become reality and then we start the whole re-build cycle all over again…