Dolphins fire Gase after 7-9 season; Tannenbaum demoted
MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Dolphins’ coaching carousel is spinning again.
Adam Gase was fired Monday as part of the latest organizational shake-up after the Dolphins finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the 15th time in 17 years. Owner Stephen Ross ordered a roster overhaul and acknowledged it may take several seasons to build a winner.
Ross demoted executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum. General manager Chris Grier, who has been with the team in various capacities for 19 seasons, was given more authority and will oversee football operations while reporting directly to Ross.
The team said it will immediately conduct a search for Gase’s successor, who will report to Grier under the team’s new, more streamlined leadership structure.
The next coach will be the Dolphins’ 10th since 2004, including three interim coaches. This time, Ross said, will be different.
“Today we’re no further along than when I bought the team,” said Ross, who became majority owner a decade ago. “I thought it was time for the organization to take a different approach.”
Ross, 78, said he’s willing to be patient because the Dolphins’ win-now philosophy hasn’t worked, and he wants a longer-term view regarding player personnel decisions.
In the past the Dolphins counted on free agents to get over the hump and instead became stuck on a treadmill of mediocrity. They’ve finished with six to eight wins in nine of the past 10 seasons, and haven’t won a playoff game since 2000.
“To keep operating under that philosophy would be like the definition of insanity: doing the same thing and expecting a different result,” Ross said. “What I want is sustained winning seasons. That’s what the fans want and deserve. We’re going to build this organization based on our needs, and if it takes a year or so, two years, three years, we’re going to be there.”
The approach makes sense given the Dolphins are likely starting over at quarterback. Ryan Tannehill has been with Miami since 2012 but has never taken a postseason snap, and he’s widely expected to be traded or released because of an escalating salary.
Gase went 23-26 with Miami, including a playoff game in 2016. After the 2018 Dolphins beat New England on the play of the season — a pass and double lateral for a touchdown as time ran out — they were outscored 100-41 in their final three games by other also-ran teams, including a 42-17 loss at Buffalo on Sunday that sealed Gase’s fate.
“Probably one of the toughest decisions I’ve made,” Ross said. “He worked his tail off, and unfortunately things didn’t go the way we all hoped.”
Tannenbaum, who held his job for four years and was involved with several disappointing drafts, was reassigned within the organization.
Grier, the GM for the past three seasons, said the team will “investigate every avenue” in pursuing a coach, and said NFL experience wasn’t a necessity. Grier said he’s committed to Ross’ new, more patient approach in building a winner.
“It’s knowing who you want to be,” Grier said. “You have a vision for what your team wants to be, and you stay with it.”
Most preseason prognosticators predicted the 2018 Dolphins would finish with a losing record, and a wave of injuries complicated Gase’s task. The Dolphins lost 13 key players to season-ending injuries, including two top offensive linemen, their best run stopper, top cornerback Xavien Howard and explosive receivers Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant. Tannehill missed five games.
There’s already speculation the 40-year-old Gase will be coaching another team in 2019, and his supporters argue he overachieved this season, given the quality of the Dolphins’ roster.
They were outgained by 1,619 yards, worst in franchise history, and outscored by 114 points. They ranked 31st in the NFL in offense, also a franchise worst, and 29th in defense, allowing a franchise-record 6,257 yards.
Gase went 7-1 in one-score games, and 20-6 in three seasons. But his record in games decided by more than one score was 3-20, including 0-8 this season. His teams struggled especially on the road, losing their final seven away games this year while being outscored 248-117.
Gase was seen as a rising young star when the Dolphins hired him, and even more so after they went 10-6 in his first season and made the playoffs for the only time since 2008.
But they regressed to 6-10 in 2017, when Tannehill missed the entire season following knee surgery. And the poor finish this season raised questions about whether Gase had lost the support of some players.
News of his firing was applauded by at least a couple of Dolphins discards. Cleveland Browns receiver Jarvis Landry tweeted emojis laughing so hard they cried. Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Jordan Phillips did the same and added, “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
The dynamic Wilson, who missed the final nine games because of a hip injury, had a different perspective on Gase’s departure.
“A full year I could (have) shown how much of a genius he was!” Wilson tweeted.
Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Steve_Wine