The Miami Dolphins entered 2016 having gone seven straight seasons without a playoff appearance, and, after a 1-4 start, eight straight seemed right around the corner.
Well, that’s no longer the case. True, there’s a lot of season left to be played, but Miami (7-4) has won six straight games and is currently ahead of Denver (7-4) for the final playoff spot in the AFC.
Many people have had a hand in the Dolphins’ turnaround, none more so than head coach Adam Gase.
“He has a passion for the game,” Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “That passion comes through every day he comes to work and every time he steps on the field. I think he has the mentality of, ‘This is football.’ A lot of times in this league, you (have to be) politically correct and tip-toe around certain things, and he’s like, ‘Look, this isn’t going to be like other jobs, and this is not for everybody. I’m a guy who’s going to make the tough decisions. I’m going to make the tough calls. That’s what my job is. I might not be your best friend and some people might not like it, but my main job is to get a winning team on the field.’ Obviously he’s made some changes, he’s made some cuts – he’s done a lot of things that have kind of stirred the pot, but at the end of the day, we’ve been winning, and again, if that’s at the top of the priority list, then all of the other means to get to that point are supported. I feel like he’s a great guy for this team.”
Gase, of course, isn’t alone. Jay Ajayi rushed for 200+ yards in back-to-back games to spark Miami’s winning streak, but Ryan Tannehill has been clutch in recent weeks, accounting for seven touchdowns and just one interception. The Dolphins rank just 25th in total offense, but Tannehill has made plays when he’s needed to.
“He’s been playing at a tremendously high level,” Wake said. “He’s been a guy who, since I’ve been here, has had a lot of people talk about him in a lot of different ways, but I’ve been a guy who’s always supported him and believed in his arm and believed in the ability he has. I’ve watched every single snap he’s taken in the NFL. I’ve been the guy chasing him around every Monday, Tuesday through game day trying to make sure his week days are tough so that his weekends are easier. But he’s been playing lights-out football.”
Tannehill threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday’s 31-24 win against the 49ers, ultimately getting the best of Colin Kaepernick. That was music to Miami fans’ ears – and eyes – especially since Kaepernick recently made comments supporting Fidel Castro. The Cuban dictator died Friday at the age of 90.
Needless to say, there was a little more juice in the stands than usual Sunday.
“Well, I’d like to think that every time an opposing team or player comes in they’re going to get some passionate encouragement from our home crowd,” Wake said. “But obviously having a large Latin population down here, if anybody comes out and says something (like that), it’s probably going to make it a little more hostile. Obviously Miami, I’ve been down here nine years now and there’s a large Latin population, and to say anything that’s going to go in opposite to that is probably not something that’s going to be received well. Of course you heard the boos. It keeps us going, too. We love it when the home (fans) are on our side and they’re helping us get our job done. That’s another part of the game. That’s on him and something he has to figure out and deal with. I’m all for the home team, the Miami Dolphins, the Latin community – everybody involved. I’m all with you.”
Miami will go for its seventh straight win this Sunday in Baltimore (6-5). Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.