DAVIE (CBSMiami) – With their playoff hopes all but over, the Miami Dolphins returned to the team’s facility on Monday to begin turning the page to Week 16.
Miami’s 24-16 loss at Buffalo on Sunday has shifted the team’s narrative from a potential postseason berth to a period of evaluation.
“I would hope that they would be very motivated,” said head coach Adam Gase of his players. “They’re playing for their jobs.”
Gase confirmed that the mindset of evaluation would be the same even if if the team was still in the playoff hunt. Any player on the roster bubble, or those looking for a new contract, will be auditioning for a spot on the 2018 squad. That’s especially true for those on offense, with Miami ranking 28th out of 32 in total offense this season.
One of the positives on that side of the football has been Jesse Davis, an un-drafted offensive lineman in his first season with Miami. He’s started games this season at three different spots on the O-line.
“I feel good about what we’ve seen so far at [guard and tackle,]” Gase noted. “I still think there’s a lot of things that come up, where it’s the first time he’s seen it, and he’s trying to react as quick as he can and use all the tools that he’s learned so far to help himself. There’s always going to be some growing pains and I just think the more experience he gains, the better he’s going to get.”
Asked if he will weigh these last two games a “good deal” in roster evaluation for the offseason, Gase replied, flatly: “Yeah. I think we do. We’ll see how guys play.”
One offensive player who will almost certainly not be back next season is quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler stepped in from a brief retirement to join the Dolphins on a one-year deal after Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp. Tannehill will return in 2018 and Cutler will likely return to retirement in earnest.
Cutler threw three interceptions in the loss to Buffalo and never found a rhythm in the game. Now that he’s had a chance to watch the film, Gase evaluated Cutler’s Week 15 performance.
“We had three interceptions and four times we lost the ball,” Gase said. I know it’s not really probably one of the best days that he’s had. We’re trying to do things that we talked about doing. I think there was a few times where we’re throwing the ball a lot, especially in the second half, and you start pressing a little bit.”
On Cutler’s three interceptions: “He took a couple of the matchups that we talked about taking,” Gase noted. “On the first pick, there’s nothing I can really tell him to do different on that one. On the third down (second INT), I wish he would have done something different. At the end of the game (on the third INT) he’s just trying to make sure he doesn’t take a sack. That one was unfortunate. He was just trying to keep us alive but we have no timeouts and there’s thirty seconds left. He takes a sack there, and it’s pretty much over.”
Shifting to the defense, Gase addressed the bright futures of young linebackers Stephone Anthony and Chase Allen.
“I think both of those have done, for the most part, a good job,” said Gase. “There’s been a few times where things have happened where you wish they would make the play or do something different, but it’s kind of part of the growth process with young players. Those guys have been a couple guys who have been positives for us. Consistent, too.”
Let the evaluations commence. Miami will face the Kansas City Chiefs on the road on Christmas Eve, before wrapping up their season at home against the Bills on New Years Eve.