The Dolphins’ three most important football decision makers held a season-ending press conference Wednesday afternoon at the team’s training facility and the message I heard came across with perfect clarity.
Nobody is satisfied with 6-10. There is plenty of work ahead to get things right. Every aspect of this team will be dissected. They need time now to reflect.
There was no major news, no real clues on priorities and free agency and what this team need to accomplish in the draft. There were simply three men, all clearly disappointed over the events of this season and all determined to find the right path moving forward. What more can you ask for in the first week of January?
Several specific topics, though, were addressed by Executive Vice President Mike Tannenbaum, General Manager Chris Grier and Head Coach Adam Gase. Here’s a breakdown of five of those topics with, of course, my own personal thoughts.
- Gase made it clear that Ryan Tannehill will be his starting quarterback next season and, without prompting, added, “I expect him to be stronger than ever.” He also spoke of the difficulty and the challenges of having to “hit the reset” when Tannehill went down. My thoughts: Everything changed when Tannehill was injured and now, with the benefit of hindsight, this team simply couldn’t overcome his loss.
- A few days after the fact, Gase remains upset about the incident that saw Kenny Stills and Kenyan Drake ejected near the end of the Buffalo game. “We can’t let that happen,” he said. “It was very frustrating to watch. We need way better control from our best players.” It was evident he was most disappointed in Landry who plays with a passion and fury that sometimes gets out of hand. “That was as embarrassing as I’ve seen in a long time,” Gase said. With Landry’s contract up for renewal, Gase did add, “you can’t take one isolated incident and overreact.” My thoughts: It was unfortunate all the way around. Landry needs to get a better grip of his emotions or opponents are going to purposely try to induce him to lose his cool.
- Tannenbaum believes this can be turned around quickly, pointing out that 5 of the 6 playoff teams in the NFC weren’t even in the postseason a year ago. “I believe in the people in this building and what we’re doing,” he said. My thoughts: Tannenbaum is right on. This league is now built for quick turnarounds. You may recall the last time the Dolphins were 6-10 in 2015, they went 10-6 the next season.
- Grier left every possibility on the table. He was asked specially about taking a quarterback in the first round of the draft. “We’re always going to take the best player on our board,” he said. “Every position is wide open for us.” The bottom line, though, is the bottom line. “A 6-10 record is not acceptable,” Grier said. “We’re all very competitive. I don’t want to be picking 11th.” My thoughts: I understand that Grier would rather have the No. 32 pick for obvious reasons. But picking 11th does afford the Dolphins a chance to get an impact player, though it’s far too early to speculate who that might be. I did see some intriguing possibilities in the bowl games, especially the national semifinals.
- Gase is evaluating everything these days. His staff. His players. His own performance. He even pointed to the fact that the veteran leaders on this team need to a better job “stepping up.” But he’s got to take a step back now and let it all absorb. “It was a long season,” he said. “Things didn’t go the way we wanted it to. It takes a lot out of you.” My thoughts: There will be changes. That’s a given. Probably more changes in light of the record. Gase understands what needs to happen. He has a good feel for the pulse of this team. I believe that will become even more evident as the offseason progresses.