Dolphins coach Adam Gase learns hard lessons from crazy 2017 season

The Dolphins’ 2017 season was exhausting for pretty much everyone involved. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

ORLANDO—It turns out there is no chapter in the instruction manual for coaching an NFL team that explains how to handle a hurricane turning your season upside down before it even starts.

There’s no section on proper procedure for moving past an assistant coach getting fired for sending a video of himself doing cocaine to a Las Vegas entertainer.

And what’s the protocol for those times when a starting linebacker disappears the night before a game and the team is on edge as it fears the absolute worst?

If he has time during what’s left of this offseason, maybe Adam Gase can write some helpful additions to that handbook now that he’s survived coaching the 2017 Miami Dolphins. The insanity of that season was such that losing the starting quarterback and middle linebacker to preseason knee injuries barely register.

“I think we had a lot of,” he said, stopping to think of the right way to put it.

“There were a lot of little,” he said before starting over again.

This isn’t such an easy thing to explain.

Gase avoided these kinds of questions during the season because he didn’t want to set a tone of excuse making in his locker room. He’s more willing to discuss it now, but it’s still difficult to be totally open without scapegoating certain players.

“There were some big things and some little things that came up last year,” Gase said. “A lot of us had to deal with a lot of adversity. I think it was a learning lesson for a lot of us.

“There were some tough spots to get put in, but I thought some guys did well. Some guys didn’t handle it as well. We probably learned a lot about a lot of guys. It was one of those things that at the time you’re going through it, it’s not really a fun thing to do, but it’s a great learning experience moving forward.”

With that backdrop, it’s easy to understand why a Dolphins official said last week one of the team’s goals in 2018 is to “hopefully just have a normal season.” It’s also understandable that Gase keeps harping on the maturity and dependability he thinks Miami added to its locker room this offseason.

Whether that’s really the chief cause for some of the Dolphins’ moves and whether it translates to anything meaningful on the field is unclear, but it’s a reasonably safe bet Gase will have fewer headaches this year.

Jarvis Landry, who had two very noticeable eruptions late in the season, was traded to Cleveland. Unfortunately for the Dolphins and their quarterbacks, he took his 1,000 yards per season with him. They replaced Landry with a hungry 25-year-old bent on proving himself (Albert Wilson) and a two-time Super Bowl champion (Danny Amendola).

Mike Pouncey’s hips required a choppy practice schedule that seemed disruptive to the offensive line as a whole, and Miami cut him in favor of trading for San Francisco’s Daniel Kilgore. Any frustrations with Pouncey were worth it considering how well he played, but Gase won’t miss the routine that kept him off the practice field so often.

Another annoyance, Jay Ajayi, was already cleared out five months ago in a deal that appears to have worked out fine for everyone involved. Ajayi won a Super Bowl with the Eagles, and Gase swapped out a noncompatible personality with a running back he’s been grooming since drafting him in Kenyan Drake.

Drake’s a player whose professionalism has teetered during his two years with the Dolphins, and the team felt Ajayi was influencing him the wrong way. Ajayi almost certainly would dispute that.

Gase has declined to specify which players gave him trouble last year, but it was an unnecessary stress considering everything else that was working against him. Collectively, the team couldn’t live up to all the rallying cries—one of them was, “Anywhere. Anytime.”—they printed on t-shirts.

“You wish you could say it didn’t have any impact,” he said “I think a lot of guys would say—Just talking to them after the season, some guys got distracted by it, by certain things… I think everybody was a little bit different, but I think we kind of fell apart to that a little bit.”

Bringing in Jay Cutler for Tannehill required wide-ranging adjustments from the offensive players.

The o-line had to be reshuffled multiple times and surely suffered from what happened with coach Chris Foerster.

Think about this: Rey Maualuga being arrested at a bar in Miami just an hour before a Saturday morning walk-through looks fairly pedestrian next to what Lawrence Timmons did.

Hurricane Irma wiped out the season opener and set the team up to begin the year with a three-week run through Los Angeles, New York and London. It also eliminated the bye week, forcing Gase to give up practice days at various points in the season to get his players rest.

On the field, the offense got off to a miserable start under Cutler, and even after the Dolphins leveled themselves out at, they endured a five-game losing streak in the middle of the season.

Despite that, Miami managed to put itself on the fringe of the playoff race in December by routing the Broncos and stunning New England in a memorable Monday Night Football game. There was some satisfaction for Gase in that modest resurgence.

“I mean, it was either adapt or die,” he said. “You had no choice. That’s the way I saw it.

“You had to figure out a way to deal with the situation and still get ready for the game, work to get our coaching staff ready and make sure our coaching staff was getting our players ready. It was interesting. It was interesting to go through a lot of the things last year that we went through.”

Of course, the Dolphins saw very little, if any, of that adversity coming this time last year, so any thought now that they’re positioned for a stable, stress-free 2018 season is overly optimistic.

There are no guarantees on Tannehill’s health or that he’s going to be anything better than league-average even if he does hold up well. They brought in winners and serious veterans this spring, but Timmons was regarded as both of those for 10 years right up until the moment he went AWOL. There’s no certainty that this newfound philosophy of this year’s whole being greater than the sum of last year’s parts will be successful.

And after what he went through last year, Gase wouldn’t be foolish enough to count on everything going according to plan. He’ll probably never think that way again.

“Expect anything,” he said. “You just never know what it could be.”

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Dolphins coach Adam Gase overhauls staff hoping for change in 2018

Adam Gase says goes into the 2018 season with a much different coaching staff. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

MIAMI GARDENS–A sick feeling permeated the Dolphins’ locker room on New Year’s Day as players cleaned up the clutter from a 6-10 season. It’d been in the back of some of their minds over the previous few weeks when they’d blown key games to squander their shot at the playoffs, and it hit hard knowing there was no longer anything they could do to fight it.

For many veterans, it was a familiar scene. Reshad Jones, a safety who’s been with the organization since 2010 and never appeared in a postseason game, looked around disgustedly.

“I think we’ve got the right guys in this locker room,” he said. “I’m not sure what we need to change but something has to change. I can’t put one finger on it right now.”

Personnel moves are surely coming, but coach Adam Gase’s began his attempt to cure Miami’s mediocrity by overhauling his staff. He’s preparing for the upcoming season with new position coaches at 5 of 8 spots, as well as some other additions, and a retooled power structure.

Several underperforming position groups will have new supervisors when they hit the field for Organized Team Activities this spring: offensive line, running backs, wide receivers, defensive line and defensive backs.

“Sometimes change is good,” safety T.J. McDonald said. “We definitely needed a little change, whether it was through the coaches or whatever it might have been, so if this is the first step they felt like we needed, then we’re all in.”

The biggest shift comes at the top of the Dolphins’ offense, where Gase replaced coordinator Clyde Christensen with Dowell Loggains. That’s more than merely swapping out nameplates on office doors.

Christensen has almost 40 years of experience in coaching and agreed to be Gase’s offensive coordinator knowing that title wouldn’t come with much, if any, authority since the head coach would still be calling plays and managing every detail. He was a vital advisor, but as he put it, “It’s his show, and I’m just dancing in it.”

It won’t be that way with Loggains at all. Gase won’t let go of play calling, of course, but he brought in a 37-year-old peer and is willing to delegate some aspects of the offense.

The offensive line has been a major concern during Gase’s two-year run, and it was a mess last season with the forced resignation of Chris Foerster. The Dolphins brought in Dave DeGuglielmo as an emergency option mid-season, Gase settled on Jeremiah Washburn last month as a permanent solution.

Washburn was the assistant o-line coach in 2016 and left to take the same job in Chicago last season. Miami is keeping Chris Kuper on as his assistant.

It’s likely no new coach faces more critical decisions than Washburn, who comes in without a starting five in place. With right tackle Ja’Wuan James possibly on his way out, Washburn has to figure out where to play guard/tackle Jesse Davis, whether guard Ted Larsen works better on the left or right side and how to get more out of left tackle Laremy Tunsil after a disappointing season.

Gase fired running backs coach Danny Barrett and replaced him with Eric Studesville, who he worked with in Denver. Studesville also holds the title of Run Game Coordinator. At receiver, he promoted longtime Dolphins staffer Ben Johnson from assistant position coach to the head job, and former receivers coach Shawn Jefferson is now the Assistant Head Coach.

Gase retained tight ends coach Shane Day despite that position being a debacle each of the last two seasons and kept quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree. Hardegree was responsible for most of Miami’s red zone scheming last season.

Defensively, the Dolphins shelled out the fourth-highest amount of money for a defensive line in the league and finished 26th in sacks. Kris Kocurek, Ndamukong Suh’s first NFL position coach, came in from the Lions to see if he can do what Terrell Williams couldn’t. Kocurek also coached in Detroit with Matt Burke, who is staying on as defensive coordinator.

Burke and Gase also made a change in the secondary after the team finished middle of the pack in passing yards allowed and in the bottom third of the NFL in opponent completion percentage and passer rating. The Dolphins intercepted nine passes out of 528 attempts against them last year.

There’s a sense that the talent isn’t the issue, and that must’ve been Gase’s thinking when he fired defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo. Tony Oden, who was freed up by the head-coaching change in Detroit, has already made a strong impression on the players.

“Coach Oden’s a really good coach, great guy,” cornerback Bobby McCain said. “I met with him a couple times… He knows what he’s doing. We’re happy to have him. We’re excited to get started.”

Miami is also giving former safety Renaldo Hill his first NFL coaching job. He jumped from the University of Pittsburgh to be Oden’s assistant.

At linebacker, another position of concern, the team is sticking with position coach Frank Bush and assistant Charlie Bullen.

All the new faces will make it a much different atmosphere for the Dolphins when they get back to football over the next few months, but it’s not just a shakeup for the sake of doing something. Gase obviously believes he’ll be more comfortable and effective in this setup, and ultimately his job is the one that’s at risk if the plan doesn’t work.

“I definitely trust what Coach Gase and everybody is doing,” McDonald said. “We’re gonna ride with it and buy in.”

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Ex-Dolphins coach Chris Foerster admits cocaine use, wants to resume career

Former Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster was forced to resign in October. (AP)

It’s been three months since Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster lost his job, and possibly his career, because of a video that showed him snorting cocaine. As he continues treatment in a rehabilitation facility in West Palm Beach, he said he’s never been happier and wants to return to coaching.

Foerster spoke extensively about his problems in an interview with NFL Network that was released today. You can read the full story by Tom Pelissero by clicking here.

“I have a chance to fix my life,” Foerster said. “I have a chance to get well, I have a chance to get right, I have a chance to get better… and I’m sincere in that.

“Why do I want to coach again? Because I love coaching and helping players… I made a terrible mistake and I’m responsible for it, and I didn’t go to treatment because I wanted to get my job back. I knew this s— was out of control. It’s been the most humbling experience. But it’s what I needed.”

Foerster, 56, had been an NFL coach since 1992 and was the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator in 2004. Adam Gase hired him to coach the offensive line when he took the job in January 2016.

The organization was stunned when the video surfaced in October, and Foerster admitted the substance he was snorting was cocaine. He also said he’s battled alcoholism for the past 30 years.

The Dolphins maintained from the beginning they would support him despite forcing him to resign from the staff, and Foerster told NFL Network the team is paying for his stay in rehab.

“I’ve had a great love for him and his family for 25 years,” former Miami offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said at the time. “That hasn’t changed. Now it’s just a friend who is dealing with some struggles and will stay a friend and we’ll pray and keep pulling. There’s no other option but to overcome this thing for him.

“(The Dolphins) do the best they can to take care of their people. I’m amazed at that… I don’t think anyone will kick him to the curb.”

More recently, Christensen expressed optimism about how Foerster was progressing.

“I think things are going well for him,” he said last month. “That probably would be all I want to say is that he’s doing well. He’s working hard. He’s a good man and he’ll work on his life, just like the rest of us.”

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Former Miami Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster improving in rehab

Former Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster was forced to resign in October. (AP)

DAVIE—When former Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster’s career fell apart in scandal, the team said it wasn’t turning its back on him. That seems to be true as offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said today he has remained in contact with Foerster and believes he’s getting the help he needs.

“He’s a good friend, and I think things are going well for him,” Christensen said, appearing to get slightly choked up when discussing Foerster. “That probably would be all I want to say, that he’s doing well. He’s working hard. He’s a good man and he’ll work on his life, just like the rest of us.”

Foerster, 56, was forced to resign in October when a Las Vegas woman released a video of him snorting a white, powdery substance in a room that appeared to be at the Dolphins’ practice facility. ESPN reported that he checked into a rehabilitation facility shortly after being dismissed.

Foerster was in his second season as the Dolphins’ o-line coach and had been the offensive coordinator in 2004. He’d been in the NFL since 1993, working for six teams and overlapping with Christensen in Indianapolis, Tampa Bay and Miami.

“I’ve had a great love for him and his family for 25 years—for a long, long time,” Christensen said at the time. “That hasn’t changed. Now it’s just a friend who is dealing with some struggles and will stay a friend, and we’ll pray and keep pulling. There’s no other option but to overcome this thing for him. There’s no other good option. You don’t let that win. That’s the way it is.

“I would say this: (Stephen) Ross, (Mike) Tannenbaum, Adam (Gase), just how this organization handles stuff like that—They do the best they can to take care of their people. I’m amazed at that.”

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Dolphins’ “shocked” offensive line adapts after Chris Foerster resigns

Mike Pouncey has helped keep the Dolphins’ o-line steady during a tough week. (Bill Ingram/The Post)

DAVIE—It’s been a hectic few days for the Dolphins’ offensive line. Coming off a rough performance against Tennessee on Sunday, players showed up Monday to learn that they’d be getting a new position coach because of Chris Foerster’s video scandal.

Many players were in disbelief when they saw the video, saying there was no sign anything was wrong with Foerster. Mike Pouncey, who was not available to the media until today, was deeply affected.

“I was shocked,” he said after practice. “Chris is a good friend of mine. I hope he gets the help that he needs because he’s a great coach. He was always great to me. He treated me really well. I learned a lot from him in the year and a half we worked together. I just hate to see that he’s going through this.”

Pouncey added that he had no clue Foerster had problems, saying, “If I would’ve, we would’ve done something.”

With Foerster out, the offensive line duties have been handed to a collective. Chris Kuper is the assistant offensive line coach, and Adam Gase has charged tight ends coach Shane Day with helping as well.

Miami also brought in line specialist Dave DeGulielmo as a senior offensive assistant. He took in his first practice Wednesday and spent most of it with the offensive linemen. He was with the Dolphins when Pouncey was a rookie in 2011.

“We feel real comfortable with him,” Pouncey said. “He’s a great coach. He brings a big personality to the offensive line room, something that we need. We’ll be good.”

For this week, Kuper is running the offensive line at practice, and Pouncey and Jermon Bushrod have been helping lead. Having those three in place has helped keep things running smoothly despite the upheaval.

“It’s just a regular work day for us,” Pouncey said. “Nothing has changed at all. Guys come in, the same meeting time. Nothing has changed.”

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Chris Foerster video: Dolphins’ Jermon Bushrod says he’ll bounce back

Chris Foerster was well liked by his players. (AP)

DAVIE—Disgraced Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster appeared to have serious personal problems, but the players he coached every day didn’t see that affecting his work. Many of them praised his teaching and expressed great affection for him.

The majority of the offensive linemen did not speak to the media Monday, when Foerster resigned, so their first time answering questions about his departure came after today’s practice.

Right guard Jermon Bushrod, an 11-year veteran, communicated with Foerster by text after the scandal broke and is optimistic he will come out of this a stronger person.

“The only thing he can do is to get better from it and get the help that he needs so he can get back on the right track,” Bushrod said. “He’s gonna get better from it. I know he will. I spoke to him one time just through text messages and wished him the best and told him to keep his family and his faith and his close friends close through this whole time. I think he’ll be alright as long as he keeps his circle around him good.”

Bushrod was crushed by Foerster’s downfall, which might mark the end of his 25-year run in the NFL. He described him as a straightforward coach who always made sure players knew where they stood, but also defended them in meetings when necessary.

Foerster sent a group text to the offensive linemen when he stepped down, and there’s been little or no contact since. Bushrod said he’s conscious of how difficult the ordeal must be and wants to give Foerster his space.

“To me, he was a good dude,” he said. “Sometimes people gotta battle and deal with things. All you can do is pray that they will make it out of the situation alright, and I know he will. He’s one of the best assistant coaches that you could have, so if he takes that mindset to getting back on track, I know he will. I’ll be looking forward to speaking with him once everything has blown over and he’s back to being himself.

“You won’t get any negative responses from the guys in our room because guys really appreciated that about him. I was heartbroken over it because you never want to see your guy going through something like this. We all have his back in here and we just want him to get better. That’s the only thing that means something to us right now.”

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Miami Dolphins’ Anthony Fasano, who runs addiction center, ‘shocked’ at Foerster video

Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano, shown in the offices of the Next Chapter addiction and trauma center he launched in Delray Beach. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — The Dolphins say they will help former offensive line coach Chris Foerster get whatever help he needs.

Turning to tight end Anthony Fasano might be a prudent start for Foerster.

Fasano helped start Next Chapter, an addiction and trauma treatment center in Delray Beach. While he isn’t a therapist, instead focusing on the business aspects of the operation during the offseason, Fasano has had a close-up view of how difficult kicking drug addiction can be. He was inspired to open the center in 2015 after seeing a relative fight to kick drugs years ago.

Despite Fasano’s experience with the issue, his reaction to seeing the viral video of Foerster snorting a white powder was similar to many on the team.

“Just kind of shocked,” Fasano said. “I had a good experience with him and I wish him the best and speedy recovery and we’re here to support him however we can.”

Foerster resigned Monday, saying he took “full responsibility” for his actions.

“My sole focus is on getting the help that I need with the support of my family and medical professionals,” Foerster said in his statement.

It’s not known if the substance in the video was cocaine or a prescribed drug, or if Foerster fits the clinical definition of an addict. But in the video, Foerster does refer to having gotten high before.

Beating addiction is a challenge for anyone, Fasano said.

“Just from the numbers, I know it’s tough,” Fasano said. “With the amount of relapses that go on, even after rehab, it’s a lot.”

Fasano said he could not speculate on Foerster’s future in part because he does not have enough information, but also because each case is unique.

Fasano doubted addiction is more prevalent in the NFL than in general.

“I would say we’re probably even an outlier where we have less than the general population because of the care — we need to take care of ourselves, and our bodies are our jobs,” Fasano said. “I would say less, but there’s normal civilians all in this locker room, too, and we’re subject to the same childhood and life pressures as everybody.”

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Miami Dolphins OL coach Chris Foerster resigns after embarrassing video release

Adam Gase loses “close” friend, OL coach, says Miami Dolphins will “rally”

 

Chris Foerster video: Dolphins coach Adam Gase calls it “isolated incident”

Chris Foerster resigned at the start of the week. (AP)

DAVIE—The Dolphins are on Day 4 of the Chris Foerster scandal, and questions persist about the extent of his issues and how much the organization knew or should have known.

A video was released showing Foerster snorting lines of white powder, and the woman who claims to be the recipient of the video said it was taken at his desk in the Dolphins’ facility. She made various other claims about Foerster using cocaine.

Gase gave a vague answer Monday when asked if he had any indication that Foerster had problems, and today he was pressed on whether the behavior depicted in the video was more widespread in his building than merely one assistant coach.

“I don’t—To me, it was an isolated incident,” he said. “Really, that’s the best answer I can give you. A lot of people are just a little surprised.”

It’s unclear whether he’s saying it was isolated as in no one other than Foerster was involved, or if he meant that it was a one-time incident for Foerster.

Gase and the team are eager to move past this scandal as they prepare for Sunday’s game at Atlanta. New assistant coach Dave DeGuglielmo, an offensive line specialist, was on the field for today’s practice working with assistant offensive line coach Chris Kuper.

The only Dolphins offensive lineman to address the Foerster situation was rookie tackle Eric Smith, who is on Injured Reserve. None of the starters ventured into the locker room during media availability Monday.

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Las Vegas model speaks out on releasing video: ‘Chris Foerster used me as his cocaine platter’

In this Aug. 16, 2016, file photo, Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster watches drills during training camp. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

The Las Vegas model who apparently released the now-infamous video that led to the resignation of Miami Dolphins offensive-line coach Chris Foerster spoke to ESPN on Wednesday about her reasoning, among other topics.

Kijuana Nige joined Dan Le Batard and Stugotz on ESPN Radio and said that Foerster threatened to turn her in to the Dolphins’ security team if she released the video. Nige also implied that she feared for her safety after Foerster threatened her after coming down off an alleged high.

[RELATED: More about ‘Kijuana Nige,’ the woman who posted the video]

“Before he could do anything to me, I felt that needed to be exposed. Just in case I somehow pop up dead, that story was still going to get out,” Nige told ESPN.

>> Miami Dolphins OL coach Chris Foerster resigns after embarrassing video release

Nige said that she met Foerster in California the week before the Dolphins played the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 17, sparking a relationship built around drugs.

“He did mention he wanted to party. We met multiple times. Chris Foerster used me as his cocaine platter…. I was dating him,” she told ESPN.

The video that she released, which features Foerster appearing to snort a white substance, was recorded by Foerster from his desk at the Dolphins headquarters within the last week, according to Nige. She also claimed that he kept drugs in a desk drawer at the facility.

>> Adam Gase loses “close” friend, OL coach, says Miami Dolphins will “rally”

“Doesn’t matter if they’re in Miami or London or New York. I was invited everywhere they went. Everywhere they went, he sent me other footage. That is not the only piece of footage. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. He was doing it at his desk. He was at his Miami office,” Nige told ESPN.

Nige cited lies as the main factor that deteriorated her relationship with Foerster after he allegedly told her that he wanted to marry her and have children with her. She also doubled down on her message that releasing the incriminating video helps highlight inequalities in the NFL, claiming that she intends to release at least one other photo or video in the future.

>> Chris Foerster video: Dolphins OT Eric Smith “shocked” by coach’s downfall

“My motive was to basically expose the inequalities in the system,” she told ESPN. “It’s not just the NFL. The inequalities that come with being a minority compared with a white privileged person in America in general. This is shining a light on the inequalities we have as a country. We don’t get paid the same amount as everyone else.”

Chris Foerster video: Dolphins OT Eric Smith “shocked” by coach’s downfall

Dolphins offensive tackle Eric Smith (left) was one of few players to speak to the media in the wake of Chris Foerster’s scandal. (AP)

DAVIE—As is often the case when something like this happens, at least some of the Dolphins’ players were completely blindsided when a video surfaced of offensive line coach Chris Foerster snorting a white, powdery substance.

Foerster resigned in disgrace this morning after the video circulated Sunday night, creating a jarring scandal for the organization in the middle of the season. Eric Smith, a rookie tackle who is out for the season with an injury, said one of his college friends sent him the video late Sunday. He assumed it was a joke, until he pressed play.

“I had no words—still, to this moment,” Smith said. “It’s been about 12 hours since I’ve seen the video, and I’m still in shock. I have no true expression or emotion for the situation. It’s a lot to take in. You don’t see this every day, and definitely not with every team… I still don’t have any words to put toward the situation.”

Foerster, 55, came to the Dolphins in 2016 after 23 years as a pro and college assistant. He also served as the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator in 2004.

Of the 12 offensive linemen on Miami’s roster, seven were in their second season working under Foerster. Three of his former players came through the locker room today—Sam Young, Isaac Asiata and Smith—and a few others thought better of walking in as they continued down the hallway.

Smith stopped for about three minutes, saying mostly what a surprise it was and showing his concern for Foerster’s wellbeing.

“We’re all staying positive,” he said. “We have nothing negative to say about him. This all hit us very suddenly, and we were all shocked. This is a whole different perspective that we have of our coach.

“Everybody has their own life outside of football, but of that magnitude? It hit us hard. We love the guy. We truly love the guy. You can talk to everybody on the o-line; we all have our own emotions towards Coach. That was big on us.”

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