Adam Gase had a chance Monday to convey understanding, or even sympathy, for the mysterious matter of veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons going AWOL from the Miami Dolphins on the eve of Sunday’s season opener.
The head coach did neither, with short, clipped answers that not only served to divert the line of questioning but also presented a stern view of the entire situation.
Any updates on Timmons? “Not currently.”
Have you spoken to him? Shakes head no.
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Is he in the building.? “No idea” — followed by a declaration that Gase’s priority is with players who actually played in the 19-17 road victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.
Later in his Monday postmortem at Davie headquarters Gase said something just as telling when asked what hard-fast rules he has for his players.
“Be on time and play hard,” he said.
And what would be the tolerance level for those who fail to meet those rules?
“What do you think?,” said Gase, unsmiling. “I got two rules.”
Disappearing from the team Saturday without notice for several hours would very likely qualify as not being on time.
Clearly, the Dolphins must make a fast and certain decision regarding Timmons:
Dismiss him from the team immediately for his behavior.
Absolve him to a degree he’s back in the locker room and on the field.
Or take him back but only after an admonishment and perhaps a club fine.
It is the indecision, including Gase’s Monday responses, that could fester into a distraction if allowed to continue. There are reports that what led Timmons to go AWOL in turn led to his seeking professional help. There have been other rumors. Already, questions about Timmons rose to the top of the media hit list Monday, ahead of Sunday’s win, Jay Cutler’s debut, Hurricane Irma or the next opponent.
Teammates seemed willing to be understanding.
“We all go through stuff,” as center Mike Pouncey put it.
Would the team take him back?
“Of course!” Pouncey said. “He’s one of our brothers.”
But, to further that analogy, that also makes Timmons a brother who walked out on his family.
It’s family business that became very public, very fast.
Gase needs to deal with it just as fast, rid his team of the latest distraction, and make the focus on football again.