The sting should last until the Super Bowl for the Miami Dolphins, then ‘you got to let it go’

Miami Dolphins Mike Pouncey and Jarvis Landry keep warm as the game slips away in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL Wild Card Playoffs on Sunday at Heinz Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)
Miami Dolphins Mike Pouncey and Jarvis Landry keep warm as the game slips away in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL Wild Card Playoffs on Sunday at Heinz Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

 

DAVIE – Branden Albert was stuffing everything he could into a clear plastic bag.

Clubhouse attendants were taping shut cardboard boxes with sticky notes that included the address where the box should be mailed.

Andre Branch was rushing so he could make the drive across Alligator Alley and up I-75 to Tampa to watch his alma mater, Clemson, play Alabama in Monday’s College Football Playoff championship.

The Miami Dolphins locker room on Monday had all the signs of the end of another season.

“It’s always tough ending the season because you’re going to be sitting at home on the weekend and watching other teams play for championships,” center Mike Pouncey said. “The camaraderie we built on this football team and the togetherness we have on this football team, it sucks seeing everybody having to separate and go their different ways.”

Moving day was bittersweet for the Dolphins. Most acknowledged going from 6-10 to 10-6 and ending the season with a winning record and in the postseason for the first time in eight years was a significant step.

But that also meant if a team is in the playoffs and unless it wins the Super Bowl, the season will end with a loss. For Miami being dominated by the Steelers 30-12 in the wild card round made it difficult to look at the big picture.

“We truly believed in this room we could make a run, a serious run,” receiver Kenny Stills said. “We truly believed that. We feel like we didn’t do what we were supposed to do.

“I’m sick about the game but I still understand where we’ve come. It’s something you can be proud of but it’s not something to hang your hat on.”

Significant steps were taken under first-year coach Adam Gase, especially considering playoff talk wasn’t even realistic after Miami lost four of its first five games.

But a 30-15 victory over the Steelers in Week 6 was the turning point as the Dolphins won nine of their next 10 games.

And even though that was Miami’s only victory over a team with a .500 record or better (the Dolphins were 1-6 in such games including the playoffs, 9-1 against teams under .500) that wasn’t about diminish what was accomplished during the regular season.

“It was successful,” safety Michael Thomas said about the season, “based upon how this team was performing in the most recent years. We’re resilient and we overcame a lot of adversity, especially when it came to injuries.

“Our goal was to make it to the playoffs, and we got out in the first round. Successful? Yes. But definitely not satisfying.”

Offensive lineman Jerman Bushrod believes the sting will last as long as football still is being played, which means another month as the division playoffs and conference championships lead to the two-week buildup to the Super Bowl.

But after a champion is crowned the 2016 season officially comes to an end.

“It’s going to be tough to deal with, but after the Super Bowl you got to let it go,” Bushrod said. “It’s a new year. It’s definitely tough anytime you get into that dance and you don’t do what you need to do.”

Then the pressure is on vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum and general manager Chris Grier to patch holes and deliver Gase a team he can work with to take the next step and enable the franchise to win a playoff game for the first time since 2000.

“I feel like it’s coming,” receiver Jarvis Landry said. “We’re not all the way there, but we started something under Gase and the staff that he’s brought in that will allow us to do something special here in the future.”

 

No one enjoyed Dolphins’ playoff loss more than Miko Grimes

Grimes a Dolphins game in 2014. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)
Grimes a Dolphins game in 2014. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

PITTSBURGH–As much as the Dolphins might want to, it’s going to be a while before they fully extract themselves from their association with Miko Grimes.

Maybe forever.

Grimes is still keeping tabs on the Dolphins even though her husband, former Miami corner Brent Grimes, now plays for the Buccaneers. She had a field day with the team’s loss to Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs Sunday:
Continue reading “No one enjoyed Dolphins’ playoff loss more than Miko Grimes”

Miko Grimes uses anti-Semitic language to take shot at Miami Dolphins management

Miko Grimes celebrates after her husband Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes (21) gave her the ball he intercepted and returned for a touchdown in the third quarter at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida on October 26, 2014. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Miko Grimes celebrates after her husband Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes (21) gave her the ball he intercepted and returned for a touchdown in the third quarter at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida on October 26, 2014. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Miko Grimes is back in the news.

The wife of former Dolphins and current Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes used anti-Semitic language that she later tried to clarify to criticize the Dolphins front office on Monday. Continue reading “Miko Grimes uses anti-Semitic language to take shot at Miami Dolphins management”

Grier: Dolphins ‘aggressively’ seeking an influx of aggression

Dolphins GM Chris Grier (left), owner Stephen Ross, coach Adam Gase and VP Mike Tannenbaum. (Hal Habib / The Palm Beach Post)
Dolphins GM Chris Grier (left), owner Stephen Ross, coach Adam Gase and VP Mike Tannenbaum. (Hal Habib / The Palm Beach Post)

On the day he was introduced as general manager of the Dolphins, Chris Grier was asked a logical question: What’s your philosophy about identifying the type of players you want?

In a veteran move, Grier showed agility in sidestepping the question.

“Once we start building this team, I think you will get a sense of the types of players that we are looking for,” he said.

Now, we have more than a sense. We know.

When the Dolphins drafted receiver Leonte Carroo in the third round, the words Grier used were competitive, toughness and alpha.

Cornerback Xavien Howard: Super competitive. No, check that. Ultra competitive. Alpha.

Grier said receiver/return man Jakeem Grant is an alpha, leaving us to sort out how a guy who’s 5-feet-5 3/4 qualifies for that label within the NFL world.

Oh, and with third-rounder Kenyan Drake, Grier made sure to point out he makes tackles. Yes, a running back who makes tackles. At least it’s on special teams.

So clearly, Grier, football operations poobah Mike Tannenbaum and coach Adam Gase are doorbuster shoppers at Alphas R Us.

The dictionary defines an alpha as “being the most dominant, powerful or assertive person in a particular group.” Technically, that leaves room for only one at the top of the chain on a 53-man roster, but no matter. Maybe Grier’s idea of organized team activities this summer will be Over-The-Top-Rope Alpha Battle Royals.

Here is the thing, though: Grier has been in the organization for 16 years, endured that 6-10 season last year with everybody else, and his cure for what ails is an industrial-strength dose of alpha.

Suh
Suh

Meaning Grier & Co. analyzed the situation and evidently diagnosed alpha deficiency.

Were the Dolphins too nice?

Once you get past Ndamukong Suh and the departed Olivier Vernon, you have to think yes. The Dolphins talked a physical game, but when was the last time they walked off the field and you felt they smash-mouthed their way to victory? Sorry, but toughening up the dolphin in the logo — he’s no longer so cute and cuddly — doesn’t count.

A football alpha is, by definition, a leader. In the past, there was no question where the leadership was coming from. Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas ran the show, and without Chad Pennington, nobody would remember the last time this team was in the playoffs.

But the common thinking amid the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin affair was it never would have escalated had a responsible adult such as J.T. been in the locker room. (Even though Gase is new, given his relationship with the players, it’s  inconceivable he would have been blindsided by the controversy the way the previous regime was.)

Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and his family at the announcement of his contract extension. (Photo by Hal Habib / The Palm Beach Post)
Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and his family at the announcement of his contract extension. (Photo by Hal Habib / The Palm Beach Post)

Interestingly, center Mike Pouncey was implicated in that affair, but he had an emotional awakening when the Dolphins gave him a five-year, $45 million contract extension last year, thanking the club for putting up with “stupid” things he’d done.

“You’re just going to see a better leader,” Pouncey said. “ I’m going to be the same football player. Just a better leader on and off the football field.”

Pouncey has delivered. Just listen to first-round pick Laremy Tunsil: “I’ve been talking to Mike Pouncey a lot about film work and how to work and field stuff. (He is) somebody to look up to, somebody that can show me how to lead the way.”

Pouncey can do that in the offensive linemen’s meeting room. Now, the Dolphins are committed to making sure every other room has someone who thinks the front seat belongs to him.

“When you say ‘alpha,’ it’s those guys that love football,” Grier said after the draft. “They’re mentally and physically tough, they’re not afraid of challenges, they love to compete. It was stuff that we talked about a lot through the process and you guys have been around coach Gase — he definitely has that mentality.

“We’ve tried to change the roster with the guys we’ve added, especially on the pro side too through free agency. We’ve been aggressively looking for players like that. I think that’s the only way you can win.”

Ross: Tannenbaum to lead search; Campbell is a candidate

Ross
Ross

Mike Tannenbaum will have a prominent voice in selecting the Dolphins’ new coach and Dan Campbell will be among the candidates in a search that will begin “immediately,” owner Stephen Ross said in a letter to season-ticket holders Friday.

Ross also didn’t sugarcoat this season, labeling it “disappointing” that the Dolphins are 5-10 entering Sunday’s finale against visiting New England.

Prominent on everyone’s mind, however, will be where the Dolphins go from here. Rebuilding will not mean Ross will clean house and part with Tannenbaum, who has spent about a year as the team’s executive vice president of football operations.

“We are going to conduct a thorough process led by Mike Tannenbaum to select our head coach that will not be constrained by convention in our approach,” Ross wrote. “This search will be thorough and we will take it wherever we need to go.”

Campbell took over as interim coach after Joe Philbin was fired amid a 1-3 start.

“I appreciate everything Dan Campbell has done this season and he has earned the opportunity to be considered for head coach,” Ross wrote. “We’ve also identified several promising candidates and will begin work immediately.”

The Dolphins are bound by the Rooney Rule to interview at least one minority candidate.

Ross thought he had assembled the right pieces entering this season, including the signing of free agent Ndamukong Suh to a $114 million contract. Despite the presence of the former All-Pro defensive tackle, Miami’s run defense actually took a step backward this season.

“I had high expectations headed into this year and the on-field results have been disappointing … for you, our staff, our coaches, our players and alumni players and certainly for me,” Ross said.

Ross went on to applaud fans’ “unwavering” support in selling out home games and traveling well.

“I look forward with optimism to more celebrations in the future together,” Ross wrote.

Injury update: The Dolphins listed linebacker Jelani Jenkins (ankle) and center Mike Pouncey (foot/ankle) as doubtful for Sunday. Questionable are guard Jamil Douglas (ankle), tackle Ja’Wuan James (toe), receiver Rishard Matthews (ribs), defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (calf) and receiver Kenny Stills (thigh).