Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was in a relationship that came to an end. A proper grown-up one with property, furniture and a CD collection to divide up (YOU DIDN’T EVEN LIKE GUNS ‘N’ ROSES, KELLY!). We were from different social circles and so once the parting of the ways had been complete, we never had to see each other again. And so we didn’t, until one Saturday evening at Waterloo station, there she was. All dressed up and ready for a night on the town. There I was, coming back from a cycling trip, dressed in Lycra with mud all over my face.
This anecdote is brought to the front of my mind as the Dolphins go up against their former ex-Head Coach, Adam Gase. I’ll admit it. At first, I thought Gase was the real deal. He had come with the endorsement of Peyton Manning as a first-rate offensive mind, got Jay Cutler to look like he cared for a bit. Brock Osweiler morally owes Adam Gase about $41 million.
In that first blossom of romance, Gase took a pretty weak roster to the play-offs. January football for the first time in a decade. An unfortunate ACL injury to quarterback Ryan Tannehill meant that break-out season would have to wait. Nevertheless, this relationship had a future.
And then the cracks started to show. All those things that we either found endearing or were willing to overlook started to become bigger and bigger issues. The bubble screens thrown behind the line of scrimmage, the lack of a run game unless it was an inside draw and the sitting alone drawing up plays on the fly on the sideline.
Then there were the things that seemed like a good idea in those heady early days. Discipline for one. Gase famously had two rules. Show up on time and play hard. As a result, the Dolphins were one of the most penalised team in the NFL, something that the originally derided ‘TNT’ (Takes No Talent) wall that has played a role in Miami being one of the least penalised teams in the league.
The Miami strategy for this year has been the equivalent of walking through Waterloo station in Lycra with mud on your face. However, the New York Jets aren’t in much better shape, with a solitary win this season. This after Gase was compelled to leave Miami because he wanted to ‘win now’. It would take a heart of stone not to laugh.
The Jets also have their issues. In a move reminiscent of previous Miami regimes, they opened the wallet for running back Le’Veon Bell at the beginning of the season and then were open to trade him ahead of the deadline this week. Bell appeared philosophical about the rumours, taking to Twitter to state.
“There’s been a BUNCH of false reports and speculation about me in the past about things I’ve said and done, so I’m used to this. I don’t jump to conclusions when I hear or see a story that may affect me. Even if reports are true, that won’t stop me from doing what I came here to do… everyone has a job to do, and I’m gonna do mine whether people ‘like’ me or not. I’m here to win football games.“
Bell’s ambition could well be realised on Sunday. We know what the Dolphins are about this year. The question remains what are the Jets about? Can Bell, Darnold and his Halloween ‘ghosts’ pull off the win? If they do, there will be no use pining of what might have been. Exes are exes for a reason.
Prediction: Dolphins 7, Jets 10
Feature Picture – Credit: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images