CARLSBAD, Calif. — Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was casually chatting with a small group of a reporters at an upscale resort outside of San Diego that is the team’s home base this week.
The Dolphins have won four consecutive games. The sun was shining bright. And on this Monday afternoon, Ross had a smile on his face that indicated he couldn’t be more pleased with how the season is going.
Ross raved about his first-year head coach Adam Gase.
He spoke about the cohesiveness between Gase and the rest of the football operation, namely executives Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier.
It hasn’t always been that way for the Dolphins.
It hasn’t always seemed as hopeful for the organization under Ross’ leadership as it does this moment.
Ross joked about how he’s through making predictions, particularly any involving the Super Bowl.
But Ross spoke seriously about how the culture being set by Gase is the right one.
Gase connects to his players, veterans and rookies alike. Heck, Gase connects on a positive level with the media, offering respect and a sincere interest in anyone he interacts with.
Dolphins football? It’s now about a culture of accountability and responsibility.
And Tannenbaum and Grier are on board. They are lockstep. In unison.
Gase’s opinion on players is weighed heavily by Tannenbaum and Grier, who understand the importance of adding, not deleting, players Gase and his staff want in South Florida. And not adding players Gase and his staff want no part of.
There is three-way respect.
Players are constantly talking about how they owe it to themselves and their teammates to give great effort. And as we have seen in Gase’s first season, those who don’t will be benched, see their playing time reduced, or, ultimately, be cut.
Gase is winning. How big Gase can win remains to be seen.
But Gase is winning with personnel that doesn’t necessarily fit with what he and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph would ideally operate.
Gase and his coaches are meshing the strengths of his players with their concepts, even listening intently to ideas and suggestions from the players themselves.
In the future, how Gase, Tannenbaum and Grier build upon this roster will ultimately determine if the Dolphins can actually compete with the New England Patriots, or, at least, seriously compete for a wild card spot.
Ross isn’t making any predictions. But what is clear at this moment, the midpoint of the 2016 season, is that Ross has complete confidence that he’s finally found the right coach.