NFL national anthem policy: Adam Gase doesn’t envision suspensions

Dolphins players Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Julius Thomas wait in the tunnel during the anthem before an October 2017 game. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE — As the NFL’s national anthem policy remains uncertain, Dolphins coach Adam Gase can’t foresee any player missing games as a punishment for violating whatever rule the league implements.

Gase, whose team came under fire recently when a report indicated it might suspend players who kneel or demonstrate during the anthem, said today that outcome seems unrealistic.

[RELATED: Exclusive photos from opening day of Dolphins training camp]

“If anybody knew actual rules in the NFL, good luck suspending somebody,” he said. “It takes about 5,000 things before anybody can get suspended by a club.”

He added, “I’m just telling you, other incidents that have happened in the past, it’s harder to suspend guys than what anybody realizes.”

Protests during the anthem have been an issue since 2016, Gase’s first year as head coach of the Dolphins. Since then, the team’s response has been all over the place. There was a stretch last season in which players were required to stay in the locker room if they weren’t going to stand, but that policy was pulled back.

It’s been a similarly turbulent ride for the NFL, which believed it finally solved the problem by laying down rules in March that required players to stand or stay off the field. It put that policy on hold after the NFLPA filed a grievance this month, and the league and players union agreed to continue trying to find a solution that suits both sides.

That takes the issue out of Gase’s hands for the moment. He doesn’t have to answer questions about a policy that currently isn’t in place.

“I just kinda wait and see what we’re told by the NFL and NFLPA, what’s going on as far as their conversations go,” he said. “I wait until we actually start games. It seems like things change a lot.”

The Dolphins have two key players who have demonstrated in the past. Wide receiver Kenny Stills kneeled during the anthem the last two seasons, and new defensive end Robert Quinn raised a first last year while with the Rams.

Neither player has indicated their plans for the upcoming season, but both spoke today in favor of players having the freedom to express themselves.

[Five Miami Dolphins problems Adam Gase needs to solve in training camp]

[With a chance to make Dolphins roster, rookie LB Mike McCray retires before training camp]

[Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake philosophizes on what it takes to be elite]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Jermon Bushrod says that anthem protest had nothing to do with Dolphins’ poor performance against Jets

The Miami Dolphins did very little right in Sunday’s 20-6 loss to the New York Jets but guard Jermon Bushrod said the team’s posture during the national anthem did nothing to disrupt each player’s focus for the game.

Jay Ajayi, Laremy Tunsil, Maurice Smith, Julius Thomas and Kenny Stills (not pictured) protested during the national anthem. (AP)

“Of course with everything that happened Sunday, that’s going to be the first thing to blame, like our head wasn’t in it,” Bushrod said. “At the end of the day we didn’t get the job done. That’s what it was. It had nothing to do with the anthem.

“There’s some corrections we’ve got to make. We did a lot of positive things last week (against the Los Angeles Chargers) but some of it didn’t carry over and they (the Jets) showed some things that we hadn’t seen from them on tape and we as professionals just have to find a way to correct things on the go.”

The 1-1 Dolphins travel to London for this week’s game against the New Orleans Saints but Bushrod dismissed the notion that Miami’s players are road-weary.

“I don’t think so,” Bushrod said. “The schedule came out and that’s what it is. We have to find a way to get W’s because nobody cares if we play 16 games on the road. As long as we win, that’s all anybody cares about. We can protest, we can do whatever we want to do. Are you winning or are you losing, that’s all the fans care about. We’re paid to play well and we’re paid to win.”

Safety Reshad Jones declined to comment on President Trump’s suggestion that anthem protestors should be fired by NFL owners.

“I’m really not worried about the president commenting,” Jones said. “Right now I’m here to play football for the Miami Dolphins and to help the Dolphins win football games.”

Coach Adam Gase is scheduled to meet with reporters at 3 p.m. to discuss the Jets game and preview the Dolphins’ week of preparations for the Saints in London.

Finally, a first-time NFL head coach with the capacity to quickly grow into the job

The foundation has been laid.

What Adam Gase and the Miami Dolphins may build upon it in the next few years is far from certain, but consider the value of that simple statement.

shareOne year ago this week, Gase was experiencing the whirlwind of being named a head coach for the first time at any level. He also was interviewed by the Eagles, Giants and Browns but settled on Miami after meeting with all of his future bosses and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, too.

The new guy wasn’t looking at a playoff roster when he made his choice, but a 10-6 season with one playoff game is what he and Miami’s staff wound up producing. Surprised? Well, sure, all of us were, but on Wednesday, while taking wrapup questions on 2016, Gase said he was “sick to my stomach” that the team didn’t go farther.

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That’s what you expect to hear from the league’s youngest head coach. Impatience. Ambition. Intensity boiled in the excitement of an opportunity that few coaching lifers get at any age.

Joe Philbin and Cam Cameron never gave the impression that they were boiling over with much of anything. Every move they made was designed to communicate calm and authority and the promise that success must eventually come if everyone just did their job.

Problem is, neither of them did their own jobs very well, or showed much capacity for learning them. As seen also in the cases of Dan Campbell and Tony Sparano, first-time NFL head coaches really do have a lot to learn.

Gase breaks the mold. Rather than waiting on wins to establish his credibility, he left Jay Ajayi home for the season opener at Seattle because the running back was pouty over not starting. Rather than wondering if his playcalling would work with Tannehill right off the bat, Gase set his sights on instant success, and was genuinely startled when it didn’t come.

“We (Gase and Tannehill) got on the same page a little later than we really wanted to,” he said Wednesday. “I really felt like we were going to hit the season running … It took me a little longer than I thought to get used to our whole group as far as a play-caller.”

The six-game win streak at midseason is when everything started looking better, not only for Tannehill but for Ajayi and everybody else who failed to find any consistent rhythm under Philbin and Campbell, a 5-7 interim coach, in 2015.

Gase’s group ran out of gas, of course, when injuries demolished Miami’s defense and when the competition got stiffer at the end of the season but still, no other first-time NFL head coach outdid him this season.

Ben McAdoo of the Giants went just as far, making the playoffs as a wild-card team and suffering a similar fate with a lopsided first-round loss on the road (38-13 at Green Bay).

Dirk Koetter went 9-7 at Tampa Bay, a quick turnaround from the 6-10 finish that preceded his hiring, but the Bucs did not make the playoffs.

Doug Pederson debuted at 7-9 in Philadelphia, no better than the failed Chip Kelly regime before him.

“We wanted to get the right leader,” Dolphins executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum said a year ago on the occasion of Gase’s hiring. “Someone that could relate to young and talented players that we believe we have, and somebody that was high energy and competitive. Somebody that could build a great coaching staff, develop them and hold them accountable. Somebody that was open-minded, who had great football acumen and intelligence.”

That’s the way you reset an entire franchise for lasting success, just as Joe Robbie did soon after becoming majority owner of the Dolphins. The old man wanted Bear Bryant to coach his team, but when those talks fell through at the last minute, Robbie raided Don Shula from the Baltimore Colts in 1970, gaining a strong staff of Bill Arnsparger, Howard Schnellenberger, Monte Clark and others in the process.

Shula reversed the franchise’s losing culture more completely than Gase or anyone else ever could, in part because Shula possessed the skills to become the NFL’s all-time winningest coach and in part because he already had seven years of experience as a head coach in the league.

The setting of the foundation is familiar, however, with Shula’s first Dolphins team making the playoffs before hitting a dead end in the first round, on the road, at Oakland.

“What we wanted to establish here,” Gase said, “was making sure that we’re right in that thing in the fourth quarter and then find ways to execute under pressure, which our guys did the majority of the time. Really, that’s what we were looking to do as far as developing what we wanted to develop as a front office, coach staff and as players.”

Gase must go on without defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who on Wednesday was named head coach of the Denver Broncos, and Gase will need a crew of new players on defense, too. That’s not his specialty area.

Sack and interception provide the Wake-up call for surging Dolphins

The 9-5 Dolphins are a winning team again, assured of a winning season by the math of the games remaining and the push of a 34-13 win over the New York Jets.

That’s as noteworthy as anything that’s happened to the franchise since Bill Parcells arrived in 2008 to spark a brief postseason revolution, and Miami may not be done yet.

Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) forces a fumble by New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) in the first quarter at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. (Charles Trainor/Miami Herald/TNS)
Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) forces a fumble by New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) in the first quarter at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. (Charles Trainor/Miami Herald/TNS)

“We’ve got a great coach,” left tackle Branden Albert said, offering Adam Gase as the prime binding agent in this run from 1-4 to legitimate wild-card contention. “Our coach relates to us and I think that’s the biggest thing.”

Gase has been great in his first season running an NFL team, there’s no doubt, but just as importantly these Dolphins, the new ones and the holdovers, aren’t relating the 2016 season to anything that has come before.

For instance, when the bumbling New York Jets jumped to a 7-0 lead Saturday night behind kid quarterback Bryce Petty and were headed for a second touchdown, the magnetic draw of so many deflating Decembers was strong. Even worse, Ryan Tannehill was on crutches this time, and the man playing quarterback for the Dolphins, Matt Moore, hadn’t started a game in five years.

One of the team’s great veterans chose that scary moment to deliver a Wake-up call.

With a sack and a forced fumble, Cameron Wake stopped the Jets and started an avalanche of great moments for the Dolphins. A little later he dropped into zone coverage and collected the first interception of his NFL career. Before you knew it, everybody was getting in on the act, with touchdowns coming on home-run passes, crafty little goal-line plays and even a blocked punt.

Did Wake beat the Jets 34-13 all by himself? Of course not, but he did as much as anyone to prove that the Jets aren’t in Miami’s class anymore, and the AFC’s sure playoff bets aren’t that far out front.

“I think when you have a player of his (Wake’s) ability that has played as long as he has, he has that knack for timing,” Gase said. “It just seems like he knows when there are those moments in a game where something could swing a game and he makes it happen.
“It was interesting. I was watching him catch balls in warm-ups and thinking to myself, ‘Why is he doing that?’ All of a sudden I look up and he picks one off, so maybe he knew something that I didn’t.”

It’s been like that for a while now. Guys are doing things they’ve never done, and there’s no wave of stupefying surprise. Moore threw four touchdown passes Saturday for the first time in his career. Dion Sims had two touchdown catches, another first. Walt Aikens blocked a punt and scooped it for a score, a lot like he did last week against Arizona on a blocked conversion kick.

“That was kind of the mantra of the week,” Wake said. “You don’t know which play it’s going to be. Just make it when it comes.

“Obviously I’m not back in coverage very often, so that (interception) was a new one for me. But the ball was there and I had to go back to my linebacker days (at Penn State). I put my hands on it.”

And who among us is strong enough to take something away from Wake, the star still in search of his first postseason game?

The Buffalo Bills will try on Christmas Eve, looking to be a spoiler for a Miami team that last made the playoff in 2008 and last won a postseason game in 2000. After that the New England Patriots come to Miami on New Year’s Day. Rough stuff.

The Dolphins, however, are starting to scare other people, too. One good example of that is Jets star Brandon Marshall, the best receiver on a previous Miami team, making just one catch for 16 yards Saturday night. That was with Byron Maxwell, the cornerback Marshall claims is always holding, on the sidelines with an injury. Rookie Xavien Howard stepped in and did just fine.

Tony Lippett had a couple of interceptions, too. He was supposed to be the weak link in the Miami secondary when the season began, but no more.

“This is an amazing feeling to be in the position that we are in,” said Jarvis Landry, who contributed a 66-yard touchdown catch to the onslaught. “We are basically in control of our destiny.”

We won’t go there, not having the Nobel Prize in mathematics that is needed to decipher all the tiebreakers. Let’s just say that all these wins, stacked tall from from Oct. 16 to Christmas week, are actually starting to count for something.

Gase gets the most credit, as Albert said.

At 1-4, he looked like a rookie head coach. At 9-5, tossing challenge flags at all the right moments and winding Moore up for his first start in five years, Gase looks like he was born to be a head coach in this league.

Tannehill on crutches, it turns out, is not a case of game over.

Think instead of bonus games being added to the schedule, bonus opportunities to plan a party around a Dolphins weekend, to discover a gear other than neutral and reverse.

“I haven’t been around a team like this,” Moore said. “Guys understand that they are truly on a team.”

They’re changing right before our eyes, winning with or without big rushing days from Jay Ajayi. Winning with or without Tannehill, the only quarterback the franchise has known 2012.

Winning because they finally are good enough to do it, and stubborn enough to accept nothing less.

Miami means business this time, no matter who is in the lineup, no matter what the tiebreakers say.

It’s refreshing, especially for a guy like Wake, who is 34 and, in the miraculous vein of this Miami turnaround, seemingly getting younger every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ravens’ John Harbaugh interviewed Gase for a coordinator’s job a few years back

 

On Adam Gase’s winding road to the Miami Dolphins’ head coaching job, he got plenty of experience interviewing with other teams for coordinator positions. One of those teams was this week’s opponent, the Baltimore Ravens, who in January of 2015 were looking for a playcaller to fill the role once held by Gary Kubiak.

FILE - In this Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, file photo, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh answers a question during a post game press conference after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 19-14, in Baltimore. With Baltimore leading Cincinnati by seven points, coach Harbaugh told his team to intentionally hold the Bengals to draw penalties while punter Sam Koch ran out of the back of the end zone. The strange but smart strategy ensured a victory for the Ravens rather than risking a fluke fumble or blocked kick. (AP Photo/Gail Burton, File)
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (AP Photo/Gail Burton, File)

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh talked Wednesday about the very favorable impression he got from his meeting with Gase, who at the time was 36 and the offensive coordinator at Denver.

“I really enjoyed it,” Harbaugh said. “We hit it off, man. We had a great time talking football philosophy. I love the way he thinks. I loved his style, loved his energy. Just felt like he was one of the really top coaches that I talked to in an interview-type setting.

“It would have been great to have been able to bring him here but I think we all knew at the time he was destined to be a head coach very soon and obviously he’s doing a great job with that.”

Gase said that he met with Harbaugh from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. soon after Kubiak left Baltimore to become Denver’s head coach. He told Baltimore reporters that he appreciated Harbaugh fitting him in at a time when he was weighing other offers.

The Bears landed Gase as their playcaller that year. Baltimore hired Marc Trestman, a former head coach in Chicago, as their offensive coordinator but since then have moved on from him to Marty Mornhinweg.

This is how it works in the NFL, coaches networking and moving all over the place, and obviously it all worked out for the best for Gase and the Dolphins.

Without overtime TD vs. Browns, Jay Ajayi might have been lost in the shuffle

When did the Jay Ajayi revolution begin? Seems to me it was at about the lowest point you could imagine for the second-year running back, and for rookie head coach Adam Gase, and for the Miami Dolphins in general.

Think back to Sept. 25. The Dolphins were in overtime against the winless Cleveland Browns, a supposed easy mark. Problem is, Miami was winless, too, at that point, and would already have been beaten if not for a missed Browns field goal attempt as time expired in regulation.

Ajayi didn’t look like much of a hero at that point.

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi scores the winning touchdown scampering past Cleveland Browns Christian Kirksey, left, and Demario Davis, center at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami won 30 - 24, September 25, 2016 in Miami Gardens. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi scores the winning touchdown scampering past Cleveland Browns Christian Kirksey, left, and Demario Davis, center at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami won 30 – 24, September 25, 2016 in Miami Gardens. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

Rookie Kenyan Drake started ahead of him against Cleveland. What’s more, Arian Foster, since retired, would have gotten the start ahead of Drake if not for a hamstring injury. By the time Miami and the Browns got to overtime that day, Ajayi had been basically ignored in Gase’s game plan, with five carries for 16 yards.

Drake, meanwhile, had nine carries for 37 yards and Isaiah Pead, since released, had five for 17. Ajayi, in other words, was just another of Miami’s backs. Nothing more notable than that.

Wait, it gets worse. Ajayi was famously left home for the season opener when Miami lost at Seattle. He was in Gase’s doghouse for moping over losing his starting job to Foster. Looking back, the greatest surprise in all of this is that Ajayi was in the lineup in overtime of Game Three. Gase must have felt he needed the kid, must have desperately felt that he needed something different and unexpected.

[Is FSU over USF really the best college football win in our state this year?]

[Unless you’re smarter than me, predicting Dolphins is a weekly coin flip]

[Astounding all-time comparisons for Jay Ajayi’s breakout games]

By now, after consecutive games with more than 200 rushing yards, it’s obvious that Ajayi has something special. Does any of it happen, however, without that overtime against Cleveland, or without the two Jarvis Landry plays that put Ajayi in position to shine?

First, Landry returned a punt 13 yards to put Miami at the Cleveland 44-yard line. Then Landry got open for a 32-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill, instantly moving the ball to the 11.

A couple of runs and a field goals would have done it from there, but Ajayi went rumbling around left end for a touchdown. Miami won 30-24, and the former Boise State star finally had a foot in the door with Gase. No guarantees, but a chance.

“We did it, we pulled it off, a deep sigh of relief,” Ajayi said after the game. At the same time, in the adjacent interview room, Gase was grumbling to reporters about how “irritated” he was over the Miami offense just being “out there flopping it around.”

Yeah, it was a real mixed bag of emotions, but Ajayi’s resurgence was still a few weeks away.

When finally he busted loose for 204 yards in an Oct. 16 win over Pittsburgh, Ajayi nearly doubled his output for the entire season, which to that point had been 31 carries for 117 yards.

How close was Gase to turning the page on this guy? He’s done it with other players, and it’s clear that the coach had a ton of respect for Foster, his opening-day choice to start. Ajayi easily could have been lost in the shuffle.

Instead, the New York Jets will be game-planning to try to stop him on Sunday, and so will the rest of Miami’s opponents down the line.

Working overtime got the ball rolling. Getting a second chance from Gase as a pouty player with potential. Getting a second chance from the Browns with an extra period brought on by a missed kick.

Overall, this J-Train phenomenon might be the most spontaneous and amazing thing to happen at that stadium since another crazy express rolled through – Dontrelle Willis, the Miami Marlins’ D-Train from the 2003 World Series season.

Three games for Dolphins fans to watch this week

Here are three games that Dolphins fans should be especially interested in this Sunday.

 

FILe - In this Sept. 1, 2016, file photo, Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown throws in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, in Cleveland. McCown spent the summer in trade rumors and Robert Griffin III's shadow. But now that RG3 is injured and out for at least eight games, McCown is once again starting at quarterback for the Browns. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)
Josh McCown spent the summer in trade rumors and in Robert Griffin III’s shadow. But now that RG3 is injured and out for at least eight games, McCown is once again starting at quarterback for the Browns. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)
  1. Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m., CBS

The Robert Griffin III Era lasted less than one game in Cleveland. He’s on injured reserve with a shoulder injury and that makes Josh McCown the quarterback. With the Browns coming to Hard Rock Stadium next week, it would be optimal for Cleveland to remain in chaos mode.

 

  1. Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m., CBS

Both teams won their openers, which makes for an interesting matchup between division rivals, but the real draw is that the Bengals play Miami on a Thursday night in a couple of weeks. Might as well start getting a look at Cincinnati now because the schedule is really going to accelerate.

 

  1. Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m, FOX

If you’re looking for a road win on the Dolphins’ schedule, that Nov. 20 trip to L.A. looks encouraging. The Rams got shut out by San Francisco in their opener. Might feel differently, however, if L.A. gives Seattle a surprisingly tough fight like the Dolphins did.

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

[Q&A with Jarvis Landry]

[Catching up on the offense with OC Clyde Christensen]

[Jakeem Grant says he has too much respect for the military to kneel during the national anthem]

Dolphins to don orange again as ‘Color Rush’ jerseys revealed

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Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry models the team’s “Color Rush” uniforms for 2016. (Courtesy of miamidolphins.com)

The NFL has revealed the “Color Rush” jerseys for the 2016 NFL season and the uniforms have drawn mixed reviews.

The Dolphins will be sporting an all-orange uniform during their Thursday night matchup Sept. 29 with the Cincinnati Bengals, who will be dressed in all white. Miami’s uniform features white numbers and lettering and a white stripe down the side of the pants. The lettering, numbers and stripes are outlined in aqua, and the Dolphins will be wearing their regular helmets.

The look will signify the return of the team’s orange jersey tops, a fashion trend the Dolphins experimented with in 2004. The difference between the 2004 unis and the new version is that in 2004 the pants were white.

Until they’re seen on the field, it will be hard to gauge just how memorable the Dolphins’ “Color Rush” jerseys will be.

Despite the bright orange, the Dolphins’ uniforms are far from the flashiest or brightest of the bunch. Several teams like the Seahawks (flourescent green), Vikings (purple), Rams (yellow) and Titans (blue) take the cake in those categories.

Hopefully, this year, colorblind people can enjoy the Color Rush games as well, an issue that the NFL has worked to fix this time around.

20 burning questions as Dolphins, NFL teams enter training camp

With NFL training camps underway this week, here are 20 questions to ponder.

The time is now for Ryan Tannehill to prove he can lead the Dolphins to the next level. (Allen Eyestone/Palm Beach Post)
The time is now for Ryan Tannehill to prove he can lead the Dolphins to the next level. (Allen Eyestone/Palm Beach Post)

Is Ryan Tannehill out of excuses?

Adam Gase was hired by the Dolphins partly to fix QB Ryan Tannehill. After three years it’s shut-up-and-put up time for Tannehill. The Dolphins need to know if Tannehill is the quarterback to take them to the next level and this will be the year they find out.

Could things be any worse for the Dallas Cowboys?

Talk about a circus. The Cowboys already have enough concerns to last a season. We start with Tony Romo’s health (he played four games last season) and move into more serious issues like Rolando McClain, Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence suspensions and first-round pick Ezekiel Elliott being accused of domestic assault. Should be a fun season in Big D.

Has Joe Flacco recovered from knee surgery?

The Ravens quarterback tore his ACL and MCL in Week 11 and Baltimore went on to lose four of its final six games. Baltimore’s season comes down to the health of its best players. The Ravens added receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Benjamin Watson, but they need Flacco for it all to work.

How much does Jordy Nelson’s return help Green Bay?

In 2014 Nelson caught 98 passes for 1,519 yards and 13 TDs and was targeted 151 times. That season, Aaron Rodgers had a 112.2 QBR and threw for 4,381 yards. Last year, with Nelson missing the entire season because of an ACL tear, Rodgers had a 92.7 QBR and threw for 3,821 yards. Answer: A lot.

Was Carolina a one-hit wonder?

The Panthers were the story of the regular season, flirting with perfection (their only loss in their 15th game) and advancing to the Super Bowl after a blowout win in the NFC title game. The Panthers were the fifth NFL team to win at least 17 games in a season. Now, QB Cam Newton has another weapon with the return of stud receiver Kelvin Benjamin from injury. One-hit wonder? Probably not. But don’t expect another historical season.

Is this Sean Payton’s last season in New Orleans?

Many believed Payton was out after a third 7-9 season in the last four years. But Payton received a five-year extension in March. Still, the Saints are a long way from that 2010 Super Bowl victory in Miami and it will struggle to get back to .500. Will Payton be fired? Probably not unless it really goes south.

Bill Belichick or Don Shula?

Please, this isn’t even close. Belichick has cemented his title as the greatest coach in league history. Since joining New England in 2000, Belichick is 22-9 in the postseason with four Super Bowl titles. His 23 postseason wins (one with the Browns) are the most in history. Shula was 19-17 in the postseason. With Tom Brady as his starter for 15 years, Belichick has been to the playoffs 13 times and the Super Bowl six times. With Dan Marino as his starter for 13 years, Shula went to the playoffs seven times and one Super Bowl.

Can the Broncos repeat after losing one of the greatest QBs of all time?

Peyton Manning is a sure fire Hall of Famer. His (regular season) numbers are incomparable. But he is not the reason the Broncos won the Super Bowl. That reason is the defense. That being said, Denver needs to get something from the position whether it’s Mark Sanchez or Paxton Lynch. The defense will remain strong and the Broncos have a shot at repeating, but they won’t.

Will RGIII make a difference in Cleveland?

Robert Griffin is looking to revive his career after flaming out in Washington. But this won’t be easy with the most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL. Griffin must fall in with new coach Hue Jackson. If he stays healthy he will help, but it is going to take a lot more than Griffin for the Browns to become relevant again.

Which QB will have a bigger impact, Jared Goff in L.A. or Carson Wentz in Philadelphia?

Goff, the top overall pick, has a much better chance of starting from the get-go than Wentz, who was taken second overall. Goff’s competition is Case Keenum, who has started 15 games in four years and completed 56.7 percent of his passes. The Eagles appear to have a clearer plan to groom Wentz with Sam Bradford around for one more year.

Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota?

This debate will carry on as long as both QBs play well, and under the circumstances for both (i.e. dreadful teams) they did as rookies. But Winston rebounded from being clearly outplayed by Mariota in the opener, and showed the Tampa Bay made the right choice in taking him No. 1 overall last year, as did Tennessee taking Mariota with the second pick. But who will prove to be the better QB: That would be Winston.

Will the Redskins ever change their name?

Many believed it would have happened by now but president Bruce Allen has said the franchise will not consider a chance even if it hurts its chances for a new stadium. The pressure is mounting, though, and the NFL may be forced to step in and force the change.

Which is the best up-and-coming team?

The Jaguars have averaged fewer than four wins in each of the last four seasons. But things are looking up. After adding QB Blake Bortles in 2014, Jacksonville invested heavily in its defense this offseason and should have as many as six new starters. They are young and will need time but the Jags are on the rise.

Are the Vikings for real?

Minnesota has gone from five to seven to 11 wins the last three years and made the playoffs in 2015 for the first time since 2012. QB Teddy Bridgewater has been solid and has room to improve and the defense was fifth in points allowed. The Vikings are not in the class of Carolina, Arizona, Seattle or even Green Bay (this year), but they are not far behind.

What does the Ryan Fitzpatrick signing mean for the Jets?

New York had its first 10-win season in 2015 since winning 11 in 2010 and it took a 33-year-old Fitzpatrick having a career year. With Fitzpatrick back (he signed a one-year deal for $12 million Wednesday), the Jets once again are the second best team in the AFC East. But a playoff team? Not likely.

What does a Ryan brothers reunion mean for Buffalo?

For one, a lot more entertaining sound bites. The last time the twins worked together was 1995, for their father, Buddy, in Arizona. Now it’s head coach Rex who has hired bother Rob as an assistant head coach for defense. This has all the markings of something that is not going to end well, especially for Rex who was 8-8 in his first year in Buffalo and who has not had a winning season as a head coach since 2010.

Are the Raiders ready to take that next step?

Raider Nation, in the midst of a 13-year non-playoff stretch, is starving for success, which explains the excitement over a team that has won 18 games the last four years. But last year’s 7-9 season was a marked improvement and the roster has unquestionably been upgraded. The rebuild started in 2012 and it’s time to show those results. Look for improvement but not a postseason.

Which team is worse, Cleveland or San Francisco?

It’s a shame these two don’t play this season, then we would have a true answer to this question. Both are beyond bad and have taken different routes to the bottom, the Browns in the midst of a stretch in which they have finished last in their division 11 of 13 years; the 49ers falling off the cliff after playing in the NFC title game from 2011 to 2013. But I’m going with. … a coin flip after both finish 1-15.

Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck

Will Andrew Luck bounce back?

Luck was just one of several QBs whose seasons were cut short because of injuries, but a lacerated kidney is not just any injury. Luck’s recovery has been slow as he also dealt with ribs and right shoulder ailments before his season ended. Barring further setbacks, the Colts now need to keep Luck upright and using four draft picks on offensive linemen was a start.

Who will join the Rams in L.A.?

The Chargers have first dibs, with a year to accept an option to move up the I-5. If not, then the Raiders will have the chance to partner with the Rams. The decision hinges on the Chargers securing a new stadium and the momentum appears to be building in their favor. The guess is San Diego gets it done and the Raiders return to L.A. once again.

[RELATED: NFL Power Rankings: Patriots, Packers on top (for now)]

 

Miami Dolphins fans get called out in new study, which ranks them among NFL’s worst

finsfansA new study has ranked the best fans in the NFL for the 2016 season, and the Dolphins didn’t receive a favorable ranking.

The study, conducted by Emory University Professor Michael Lewis, uses data to create statistical models of fan interest and takes into consideration factors such as market size and team performance. The study also uses measurements like Fan Equity, which measures fans willingness to spend money on their teams, and Social Equity, which indicates fan support beyond the field of play. Social media also plays a large role in the rankings.

The Dolphins ranked number 27 on the list of 32 teams, finishing ahead of the bottom five teams on the list, the Bills, Rams, Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars.

Some of the Dolphins’ biggest AFC East rivals fared far better in the study, with the Jets securing a middle-of-the-pack ranking of 17 and the Patriots topping the list as the best fan base in football.

Patriots fans’ “willingness to pay premium prices, strong attendance and phenomenal social media following,” contributed to their number one ranking, according to Professor Lewis.

The other teams that comprise the top five are the Cowboys, Broncos, 49ers and Eagles.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were ranked ahead of the Dolphins, securing the top spot in the state of Florida, coming in at number 24.