AC in the AM: Gase Was Right To Challenge His Players

After a few days of trying to make sense out of a 40-0 loss to the Ravens, after tossing and turning over an offense that has been consistently inconsistent and after hearing a very frustrated and angry Adam Gase question the study habits of some of his players, we offer up this Monday morning dose of perspective.

• First, Adam Gase. He sent a clear and honest message to his offensive players in a press conference last Friday afternoon. What you’re doing isn’t enough. Change the way you are preparing. Stop trying to hit home runs. Understand your responsibilities. Make a greater effort. Take the job home with you. Don’t do those things and you may not be a member of this football team much longer.

• How much more direct does he need to be?

• Gase pointed to some of the stars of this team as among the biggest culprits. He says he has let it slide for too long. You got the distinct impression he won’t let it slide any longer. “I’m tired of this offense being awful,” he said. “Guys better get their heads right.”

• Gase understands he must accept some of the blame, as should his coaching staff. It is their job, after all, to get the most out of these players. But at some point these players must hold up their end of the deal and right now, at this precise moment, he’s just not seeing it from enough players.

• It is clear to me we have reached a crossroads in the season. The Dolphins are 4-3 right now, which is quite an accomplishment considering they have been outscored 80-6 in those three losses. There is still time to turn this around which is why, I believe, Gase was so emphatic in his criticism. More than half of the regular season remains. A winning record has them in the thick of the playoff hunt. But things need to change and they need to change in a hurry.

• There is some promising news for this offense. Quarterback Jay Cutler is expected to be back in the starting lineup Sunday night against the Raiders. Receiver DeVante Parker has a chance to be back as well. Veteran guard Ted Larsen, on the injured reserve list, could return to practice this week. All are important pieces. All could make a difference.

• One of the issues facing Gase as the play-caller is that mental mistakes have forced him to simplify the offense. The downside is the offense is more predictable and easier to defend against. Gase knows he must find a middle ground. I have plenty of confidence in him that he will.

• As for the defense, poor tackling was the issue against the Ravens and that really hadn’t been much of a problem before then. “Both years we’ve gone there (Baltimore), we’ve not done well against them,” Gase said.

• My feeling is that we need to judge this defense on its entire body of work, just as we judge the offense, and right now the problems against the Ravens seem more like an aberration than the start of a troubling trend. We’ll certainly have a better idea after Sunday’s game against the Raiders.

• Meanwhile, on a totally unrelated topic, did anybody notice that rookie defensive tackle Vincent Taylor blocked his first kick against the Ravens? Did you notice that huge hand rising above the line of scrimmage? Now I can understand how Taylor blocked five kicks at Oklahoma State, a school record. Got a feeling there’s more to come.

• Now it’s about moving on, about focusing on a Sunday night game against the Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium and about hearing Gase’s message and doing something about it. Now it’s about turning the page.

• Look around the league. Every team has issues. It’s how they respond to those issues that will ultimately determine how successful they are. That, in a nutshell, is where the Miami Dolphins find themselves after seven games.