Does Miami Dolphins’ Adam Gase deserve Coach of the Year Award?

Dolphins coach Adam Gase. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

Dolphins coach Adam Gase. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

No need to spell out the reasons Adam Gase should be the coach of the year in South Florida.

Dolphins fans have suffered long enough, been ridiculed long enough, to know this year’s playoff berth feels more like a rebirth. They know none of this would be possible if not for Gase, who in his first season has done more for the franchise than anyone else who held his title except one — arguably or certainly, take your pick.

Led by Gase, the Dolphins have quickly turned the ship around, overcome injuries and ended their playoff drought — three huge bullet points on the list of reasons he’s coach of the year material.

But look around. Listen to the drums beating on a national scale. Other coaches have ended skids, righted wrongs and made do with backups. The names you hear are Jason Garrett of the Cowboys, Jack Del Rio of the Raiders, Andy Reid of the Chiefs, possibly Dan Quinn of the Falcons or Ben McAdoo of the Giants, plus, yes, Bill Belichick of the Patriots.

It’s only recently that Gase’s name has been tossed in that mix. Right or wrong doesn’t matter for our purposes here. Fact is, it just is. Gase has catching up to do, but as we’ve seen the past month, this is a guy who’s pretty decent at playing catch-up.

Looking at this race objectively, we must first recognize that the most coveted Coach of the Year Award, the one calculated by The Associated Press in a poll of writers and broadcasters, gravitates toward coaches who turn around franchises. Dating back to 2000, the winners have come from teams averaging a 5.75-win improvement over their previous season. Great news for Gase, since he took the 6-10 Dolphins and turned them into a 10-5 team, right?

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, a former Dolphins assistant, celebrates with receiver Dez Bryant. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, a former Dolphins assistant, celebrates with receiver Dez Bryant. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Slow down, cowboy. Del Rio and even Mike Mularkey of the Titans are 5.5 wins better than a year ago — and they don’t even approach Garrett, who’s at a meteoric +9.5. Factor in the weight of Jerry Jones looking over Garrett’s shoulder however you wish. Just don’t underestimate the national exposure America’s Team affords Garrett.

Still, Garrett wasn’t saddled with a team that never makes the playoffs. Gase was, ending a drought stretching back to 2008. But take a gander out toward Oakland, where there truly was a Black Hole. The last time there was silver and black in the postseason was 2002. Just win … maybe.

Injuries? Gase has dealt with ’em to proportions that would be comical if there were anything funny about injuries. The Dolphins had five Pro Bowl players last season. Know how many of them Gase has had available all year? One, receiver Jarvis Landry, and that’s discounting the shoulder that for all we know is bugging him more than anyone lets on.

At times the linebackers and defensive backs Gase is rolling out onto the field should not be wearing numbers but rather MY NAME IS tags. With Wednesday’s news that Isa Abdul-Quddus is lost for the season, that means Gase is minus both starting safeties. Continuity on the offensive line? Is that a thing? And is Ryan Tannehill coming back or not?

Gase isn’t crying about it because this is what he signed up for and he’s not alone. Del Rio knows what it’s like to lose his quarterback, too, with Derek Carr suffering a broken fibula. Belichick started the year minus his quarterback and is ending it minus one of the best weapons in the league, Rob Gronkowski.

The fact that Tony Romo hasn’t played a down boosts Garrett’s candidacy in many eyes. Garrett has relied on two rookies to carry his offense. That helps his cause, although those rooks are QB Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. That wouldn’t handicap anybody.

Del Rio will earn points for getting the most out of Khalil Mack. Perhaps he’ll lose points for exposing Carr to injury while up by 19 points in the fourth quarter.

So it’s obvious plenty of other candidates have faced adversity, too. Question is, have any been blitzed from as many directions as Gase?

Gase has taken the Miami Dolphins — the Cam “Fail Forward Fast” Miami Dolphins, the Tony “Let’s Score Three!” Sparano Miami Dolphins, the Joe “Queasy” Philbin Miami Dolphins — and won double-digit games. He brought us January football.

Anyone who can do that deserves strong consideration.

And probably the hardware.

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