The Miami Dolphins fired Adam Gase after three seasons and will begin a search to find the franchise’s fourth full-time coach this decade, the team announced, also promoting general manager Chris Grier to oversee football operations and reassigning Mike Tannenbaum within the organization.
Gase couldn’t escape the mediocrity that has followed the Dolphins since 2000. He finished 23-25, with his lone playoff game being a wild-card loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016.
“I want to thank Adam for his hard work and dedication to the Miami Dolphins,” owner Stephen Ross said in a statement. “These decisions were not easy as he gave everything he had to the organization. I wish him and his family the best going forward.”
Sources told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington that trust between Gase and Ross had eroded in recent weeks — and Gase had already rebuffed Ross’ recent desire for him to give up control of the 53-man roster.
The next coaching hire will report directly to Grier — and not Ross, as had been the case with Gase.
“I am excited about having Chris lead our football operations going forward,” Ross said. “I want to build a championship organization and I’ve fallen short of that so far. I know I need to take a different approach and I’ve learned that we need a more streamlined structure for accountability and a longer term view on our decision-making.
“Chris is highly respected throughout football and is an unselfish, team-first leader who knows the game. We need to add to our core of young players and build something special over the long-term.”
The biggest indictment of Gase was that he often fielded an anemic offense despite being thought of as an offensive guru and quarterback whisperer when he got the job. The Dolphins finished 24th or worse in total offense in all three seasons under Gase, including 31st in 2018.
In addition, he lost support in the locker room over the second half of the season. Three players told ESPN they felt Gase held some players, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill, at a different standard than others and that alienated some on the team. Those players said they felt there wouldn’t be a lot of hard feelings in the locker room if Gase was fired.
Ross had high hopes for Gase early on and said he believed he could become his Bill Belichick in Miami. But Gase could never duplicate the success he had in Denver, where he helped Peyton Manning lead the highest-scoring offense in NFL history.
Ultimately, Gase’s biggest gripe with the 2018 season was with the health of his team, as he often said, “I wish everybody hadn’t gotten hurt.” He was hopeful Ross would understand the impact injuries had on the season, citing the 13 players who ended the year on injured reserve — many being key offensive contributors.
Gase, 40, should receive opportunities this offseason to be an offensive coordinator and maybe even a head coach. This was Gase’s first head-coaching job, and there is plenty of reason to believe he can have future success.
Sources told ESPN’s Darlington that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, through a recommendation from Manning, is one of several teams with coaching vacancies that have an interest in Gase.
Fourth-quarter collapses at Indianapolis and Cincinnati, where question marks about playcalling were apparent, also played a significant role in the Dolphins missing the playoffs. Miami had five games this season where it finished with fewer than 200 yards.
In the end, Gase tied himself to Tannehill and did not waver on his quarterback through rocky times. Tannehill’s inability to stay healthy — missing 25 games in Gase’s three seasons — and inconsistency hamstrung the Dolphins offense and paved the way to Gase losing his job.
The next Dolphins coach will likely get a chance to evaluate Tannehill and decide whether to select a quarterback high in April’s draft, take a chance in a weak quarterback free-agent pool, make a big-splash trade or keep Tannehill.
Ross will be heavily involved in the Dolphins’ coaching search, but he has told reporters that he would not have an interest in hiring Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. Ross, a Michigan alumnus and significant booster of the school that named its business program after him, is known to have an affinity for both Jim and John Harbaugh.
The Baltimore Ravens said last week that John Harbaugh would return for the 2019 season and that they were working on an extension. Jim Harbaugh has said he is planning to remain with Wolverines.