AC In The AM: Dolphins Embrace The Next Steps

Posted Jan 12, 2017

The offseason begins with a complete evaluation of the current roster before turning all thoughts to free agency and the draft.

(AC in the AM will appear during the offseason as events warrant. You can also follow AC in the AM by twitter at @acohenfins).

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In many ways, it was a state of the franchise report presented by the three most important people on the football side of the operation.

With the past season still fresh in their minds, with the offseason now upon us and with a clear vision for the future, Vice President Mike Tannenbaum, General Manager Chris Grier and Coach Adam Gase met with media Wednesday afternoon in the large auditorium at the training facility in Davie.

What did we learn? Here’s my perspective on some of the highlights.

• Whenever I see these three men together, when I watch them interact, when I see how much they respect one another, it only strengthens my conviction that this franchise now has a strong, cohesive leadership group, so crucial to success.

• There are no false pretenses even after a 10-6 regular season that produced the first playoff appearance since 2008. “We have a lot of work to do to get better,” said Tannenbaum.

• In so many ways, it is about sustaining, building on what this team accomplished last season with a clear, definable path moving forward. That’s the objective of this offseason. “When we start in the spring, nobody will care what we did last year,” said Gase.

• The first objective over the next few weeks is to evaluate the players on the current roster. That’s crucial in terms of establishing priorities. “It was an enjoyable year,” said Grier. “We made a lot improvement. But there’s still a lot to do.”

• Several things, in particular, impressed Gase about this team. “Our guys stuck together that first month when things didn’t come easily,” he said. “We found multiple ways to win games in the fourth quarter. It was almost like a different phase stepped up every week.”

• As for the change in culture, Gase said, “Everybody bought into the same philosophy, one week at a time. We were 0-0 and our goal was to become 1-0. We carried that through the season.”

• It was interesting to hear Gase talk about Ryan Tannehill. He admitted “we got on the same page a little later than we wanted to, but then we got in a better groove.” Gase singled out what he called “off schedule plays” as one of the things that impressed him most about Tannehill. In other words, the call may not have been the right one for the defense the Dolphins were facing, but somehow Tannehill managed to produce results. “The more comfortable he feels,” Gase said, “the better he will be.”

• Gase reminded us that the Dolphins scored game-winning touchdowns five different ways this season. The more I think about that, the more impressive it becomes.

• The theme I kept hearing at the press conference. This season laid the foundation. Now the challenge is building on that foundation.

• The evaluation process includes the coaching staff and Gase himself, who as good as he was in his first season, still admits: “There are a few things I wish I had done differently.”

• Gase also praised safety Reshad Jones, who instead of lamenting over a season-ending injury only enhanced his position as a leader of this team. “”I was so impressed how he helped lead our guys,” Gase said. “You know it hurt him so much not to be out there, but our guys felt his positive energy.” Can’t wait to see that positive energy back on the field next season.

• The Broncos hired a good man on Wednesday in Vance Joseph. I was fortunate to get to know Joseph this season and he is a class act in many ways. How he kept this defense together despite all the injuries, often disguising flaws in a variety of ways, was impressive. “He made my life a lot easier,” said Gase.

• For now, though, it’s about closing one chapter and opening another which is really what this press conference was all about.

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by our columnists and bloggers represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.