Dolphins will get it right ... just not right away
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Adam Gase will win the Super Bowl as a head coach.
Quote it, favorite it, send it to my buddy Fred Segal at "Freezing Cold Takes" on Twitter, because it's about as far out on a limb as I go.
But (there's always a "but"), it won't happen this year.
Gase is bold and brash. Cocky enough to instill confidence in his players, but flexible enough to understand HE will only go as far as THEY take him. It's why you'll see him actively involved in drills instead of relying on the practice film later.
For Gase, everything is competition. He talks trash in practice, takes it personal when his offense doesn't score on every play, and comes off as the type of guy who would cheat to beat his children at Monopoly (don't act like you've never hidden money under the board before.) And I mean all that as a huge compliment.
I'm sold on Gase as a head coach.
I'm not sold on this Dolphins roster. Not yet.
On offense, the passing game should be improved, possibly by quite a bit. Gase has built a reputation as a quarterback guru and Ryan Tannehill already looks more confident than he has in perhaps his entire career. They boast four first-round picks on the offensive line (once Mike Pouncey returns) and the only non-first rounder, Jermon Bushrod, started on the Saints' 2009 Super Bowl championship team.
There's one problem: Other than Pouncey, they're all tackles. Bushrod and this year's first-rounder, Laremy Tunsil, are each playing guard because they're currently better options than anyone else the Fins have on the roster.
The good news is that Tannehill should be better protected than he ever has. The not-so-good news is that the running game will likely suffer because of not having any true guards on the field. Add in the fact that the Fins are relying on Arian Foster to stay healthy after playing just 25 games over the last three years and it's not a great mix for an offense that would like to achieve run/pass balance.
On defense, the front four could be one of the better units in the NFL. In addition to Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams, the Fins will also bring in Cam Wake on passing downs to get after the quarterback. The Fins' last line of defense is also set with returning pro bowler Reshad Jones at safety.
Beyond that, however, questions abound. Will Byron Maxwell return to the form he showed in Seattle that earned him a big free agent deal with the Eagles? Or will he face the same kinds of problems that led the Eagles to trade him to Miami after just one season? Can second-round pick Xavien Howard immediately make the jump from the big 12 to the NFL at the other CB spot? Will Kiko Alonso play like the linebacker we saw in Buffalo in his rookie season? Or will we see the Kiko Alonso who played just 11 games in 2015 (starting only one) after missing the entire 2014 season?
Lots of questions for a team that faces a schedule which includes two games against the Patriots, the entire NFC West (all playoff contenders) and the entire AFC North (all contenders outside of Cleveland).
I firmly believe the Fins got the right coach to lead them back to the playoffs and beyond. But after a season which saw Miami finish 6 and 10, the road to the postseason could be a long and, at times, painful one. And it wouldn't be surprising to see the Fins finish with a similar record in 2016 before taking a bigger step forward in 2017.
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