Welcome back, Miami Dolphins; we've been waiting for you. The team's unexpected transformation from a 1-4 team about to lie on a roster grenade into a playoff contender has been magnificent. It's something this town is thirsty for, and it comes at exactly the right time.
The comeback started just after the team's lifeless 30-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans a month ago. Since that game, the Dolphins have reeled off three straight wins, something few saw coming. And no one expected the ground-and-pound strategy. So, what's behind the Dolphins' sudden success? First-year head coach Adam Gase and his ability to cook with the groceries he was given — and discard the ones that were spoiled.
Gase has been able to take a depleted Miami Dolphins roster, find the pieces that are worth salvaging, and use them for their strengths. The ones that were beyond salvaging? Thrown in the trash, probably long after they should have been, in an attempt to set a new standard. Gase cut three offensive linemen on the same day: Billy Turner, Dallas Thomas, and Jamil Douglas, all recent high Dolphins draft picks, all underachieving players. The result of those cuts? The product on the field didn't get better, but the team did. Now, that's much more related to the health of the offensive line improving, but the cuts seemed to be a line in the sand that has coincided with the turnaround of the team.
Gase was not about to sit back and make the same mistakes Joe Philbin made with the same players. He cut the fat and proved to his locker room, and the fans, that he's not here to be anyone's friend or put up with players that just don't get it. Since those October 11 cuts, the Dolphins are 3-0. Jay Ajayi has run for 529 yards. And the Miami Dolphins are back in the playoff hunt. Coincidence? Maybe. A factor in the team's resurgence? Definitely.
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Gase showed everyone on October 11 that his patience is just as thin as the fan base's. There is no more time for learning on the job. It's not next man up, it's best man up, regardless of how he came to be a Miami Dolphin in the first place. Whether the winning continues or not, the lesson will remain with the guys that stick on the team for years to come.