Miami’s postseason carriage turned back into a pumpkin this past Sunday when the Dolphins were on the business end of a 30-12 dismantling at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card game.
While the run ended a lot sooner than Dolphins would have wanted, the team enjoyed one of its best seasons in recent memory – making the playoffs the first time in eight years and winning 10 or more games for the first time in that same span.
Tying a bow on the 2016-17 season began Wednesday as executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum, general manager Chris Grier and head coach Adam Gase all spoke to attending media for an end-of-year press conference.
The three did not offer any truly “earth shattering news”, mostly speaking about how the team wants to continue changing the team’s culture to reflect winning consistently.
Tannenbaum got the ball rolling on the nearly 30-minute session.
“Moving forward, it’s about establishing a culture,” Tannenbaum said. “In 2017, we start 0-0…nothing is guaranteed. We have a lot of work to do to get better. We will have a sober evaluation of our players and map a course from there.”
“There are reasons to be encouraged, but still work to be done,” Tannenbaum added.
One of the biggest things that anyone who has ever put “Fins Up” will be tracking this offseason is the health of Ryan Tannehill.
Miami’s starting quarterback was knocked out of action on a month ago and was sidelined with what turned out to be a sprained ACL and MCL – much less severe than the original prognosis of torn ligaments.
The injury kept him on the sideline for the final three games of the regular season and – despite a little gamesmanship – the Dolphins’ 30-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card game.
The team originally said that Tannehill would not require surgery to repair the knee; however, Gase was fairly noncommittal Wednesday when asked about where his quarterback was in terms of his injury.
“We’re still going through the process with Tannehill in regards to his knee,” Gase said. “We’re still collecting information. We can’t pinpoint anything at this moment.”
“We don’t have exacts. Until we’re told by our doctors and our medical staff we his is or where he isn’t or what he will or won’t need, he’ll continue to rehab and try to get better.”
Though fans are quick to disparage Tannehill, it is worth noting that the fifth-year quarterback completed a career-high 67.1 percent of his passes in his first season under Gase – who has been regarded as a “quarterback whisperer”.
“Once we got on the same page, we took off a little bit,” Gase said. “[Tannehill] did a great job of sticking with what we were talking about all the way back to the spring. Where he’s grown the most is with those ‘off schedule’ plays – those plays where things break down and he may have to escape the pocket and extend a play.”
Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s name has been linked to multiple head coaching opening around the league – including the San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers – but reports surfaced Wednesday that Joseph is close to finalizing a deal to become the Denver Broncos head coach.
Denver, which missed the playoffs this season after winning the Super Bowl, has to replace Gary Kubiak – who stepped down and retired right after the regular season citing health issues.
Joseph, 44, led Miami’s defense as its coordinator for just one season after spending the previous decade as a position coach for various franchises.
Joseph’s connection and likely recommendation to Denver came from Kubiak. Joseph served as defensive backs coach for the Houston Texans from 2011 to 2013 – working under Kubiak. In addition, Joseph himself interviewed for Denver’s head coach vacancy – which ultimately went to Kubiak – before the 2015 season.
Statistically speaking, the Dolphins defense still resides in the NFL basement in terms of production. Miami’s defense is ranked No. 29 overall and has given up 6,122 yards this season – a franchise record – while also yielding more 140 yards per game to opponents on the ground and giving up 24 points per game.
Still, Gase was very complimentary of Joseph Wednesday during the end of season press conference.
“He took a lot off of my plate,” Gase said. “When we brought him in the building, we knew he would be in control of everything on that side of the ball. He has that ‘alpha’ mentality and he has great leadership qualities, he holds players accountable and he leads them well.”