He’s right, you know.
When Adam Gase stood at the postgame interview Sunday, never even cracking a smile over the Miami Dolphins’ stunningly smooth 30-15 winner over Pittsburgh, he offered a dose of perspective that did nothing for a roomful of media members who were eager to let loose with the kind of high-five hyperbole they’ve been saving up for weeks.
“The thing that today proved to a lot of our guys, and a lot of our coaches, is what you possibly could be,” Gase said in quiet tones that had the TV guys in the back of the room turning up their audio. “But this league’s week-to-week. What we do today has no merit on what we’re going to do next Sunday. Nobody will care. Once we hit next Sunday, no one’s going to care what we did this week.
“So we have to go back to work. We’re 0-0 again on Monday, and then we’re going to get ready for the next game.”
Blah-blah-blah, that’s how it sounded. Not what anyone wanted. Dan Campbell fireworks, that’s what seemed more appropriate, what expressed the relief of a 1-4 dog of a team finally having its day. Gase continued to wear his game face, however. His serious Gase face.
And that’s good because, again, he’s right.
Think back to last October and a rousing bounceback game at Tennessee. Joe Philbin had just been fired after a 1-3 start and replaced on an interim basis by the fiery Campbell. The attitudinal difference was immediate, racing throughout the organization, and a 38-10 road win over the Titans validated the notion that the Dolphins could be good again, could be great even.
That game looked and felt a lot like Sunday’s upset of the Steelers. Ryan Tannehill was solid, completing 22 of 29 passes for 266 yards and a couple of touchdowns against the Titans. Lamar Miller had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season. The Miami defense also flexed its muscles, limiting Tennessee to 2-of-10 on third down conversions and knocking quarterback Marcus Mariota out of the game.
There even was a follow-up punch as the Dolphins pounded Houston 44-26 the next week. Tannehill completed three touchdowns passes of more than 50 yards in that one. Whatever tonic Campbell was selling at that point, everybody in the league wanted some of it.
New England, naturally, was the end of that. A 36-7 loss at Foxboro turned the dial back in the opposite direction, triggering a 3-7 finish to Miami’s season and a landing spot at the bottom of the AFC East.
Not saying it will happen again just that way. Gase understands, however, that it could. He knows it could because it does happen to plenty of teams every year. This is a brutal league, and it needs a coach who comprehends the brutal truth.
Dropped touchdown passes like those by Miami on Sunday won’t always be excused. Neither will dopey illegal formation penalties like the one that wiped out a Tannehill touchdown pass to Dominique Jones, or blown tackles like Reshad Jones’ whiff on Darrius Heyward-Bey. That last one resulted in a 60-yard touchdown run and an early 8-3 Pittsburgh lead.
Gase is only 38, but he’s got the maturity to teach all of this, and the authority to back it up.
What I’m saying is that it’s a good thing the Dolphins have a tough guy and a smart guy and a thoroughly organized guy in charge at this moment, with the celebration of a wild victory still underway across South Florida.
Previous coaches have had some of those qualities but not all. Gase is still learning how to do this job and mistakes will be made along the way, but on Sunday he didn’t lose focus.
Got to get a grip on Buffalo, which beat Miami twice last year and by humbling scores of 41-14 and 33-17.
Got to raise the standards higher, because highlights alone won’t remake this franchise.
Raise a toast to Gase, then, in keeping with the party mood now raging. He’s doing the dirty work of making that win over Pittsburgh really count for something. At a time like this, there is nothing more difficult or important to do.