Here’s the most shocking demonstration of how far Adam Gase has to go in fully implementing his offensive system.
Rather than speeding up the pace with no-huddle pressure and making the defense adjust on the fly, the rookie coach actually slowed things down to a more rudimentary pace in Sunday’s 30-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Miami ran 41 offensive plays. Sure, Tennessee dominated the time of possession with a 235-yard rushing attack, but 41 plays, the Dolphins’ season low, is a sad and listless total under any circumstances, and that’s especially true for a team that was forced to play catch-up for the entire second half.
Only once last year, in another 41-play day against Dallas, did the Dolphins have so few opportunities to establish a consistent scoring threat. In 2015, Miami’s play count never dropped below 55 in a single game.
Gase was supposed to change all this. Instead he has been forced to go into a shell with the presentation of his playcalling, milking every second he can get out of each sluggish possession and buying time for the Dolphins defense to rest. Nothing is working, no matter what Gase tries.
“We’ve just got to figure something out,” he said. “We tried to slow it down today and huddle and we only had 41 plays and eat up 23 minutes.”
Some of the reasons for the more deliberate delivery and execution of each play call were obvious.
Because Branden Albert and Laremy Tunsil were game-day scratches, Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas were forced into the starting lineup on the left side of the offensive line. Neither of them were up to the task, plus they haven’t been working with the first team in practice, when all that fast-paced preparation gets installed.
More troubling is the fact that no combination of players has worked for long in combination with Ryan Tannehill, who has had a few good moments leading rapid drives at Seattle and New England but for the most part has struggled to keep the chains moving. Sunday was more of the same, 4-for-11 on third down, and if not for a punt return touchdown by Jakeem Grant the Dolphins wouldn’t have been in the game at all.
Throughout a 1-4 start to the season, Gase has been unable to find that passing gear with his offense, and on Sunday he didn’t even try. The frustration ran so deep that Matt Darr got called for unnecessary roughness while running down to cover one of his six punts. Tannehill wasn’t feeling too chipper after getting sacked six times, either, and getting booed by the home fans.
“We’re inept right now,” Gase said.
Yeah, and bordering on inert.
Getting the offensive line healthy can only help in coming weeks, and part of that is Mike Pouncey’s return at center on Sunday for the first time all season. There has to be a different gear for the Miami offense, one that makes Pittsburgh and other upcoming opponents worry about Tannehill quick-counting them and making substitutions difficult.
Gase’s quick-strike offense has turned into a slog through the quicksand, and its taking his famous creativity away. What we’re seeing now isn’t much different than what Joe Philbin showed as Dolphins coach. Makes a man wince a little to type a sentence like that.