Miami Dolphins

Gase’s warning to players: Shape up, or you’re the next one I’ll bench

Adam Gase’s threat to his players isn’t even veiled anymore: play better, or I’ll find someone who can.
Adam Gase’s threat to his players isn’t even veiled anymore: play better, or I’ll find someone who can. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Adam Gase doesn’t tweet.

But if he did, Gase would have sent his his players this message Monday in all caps with an angry emoji at the end:

If you don’t perform, I’ll play someone who will.

“I’m over discussing any of this stuff with players,” Gase said. “We’re either going to start getting the job done, or we’re going to make changes.”

He already did. Gase pulled Ja’Wuan James from the lineup after James allowed a strip sack on the last play of regulation Sunday. The breakdown would have cost the Dolphins the game if Cleveland had a competent placekicker.

The day after, Gase made no promises that James would be back at right tackle when the Dolphins play the Bengals on Thursday. (Although that might have as much to do with injuries on their offensive line as James’ two “bad” plays, as Gase called them.)

“In the NFL, if you don’t do your job, they’re going to find a replacement,” corner Byron Maxwell said. “It’s a lot of guys that want to do your job and want to do the right thing.”

Added guard Jermon Bushrod: “They’re going to make whatever decisions they want to make, they need to make. It doesn’t make a difference how we feel about it. We’re paid to play.”

The Dolphins haven’t played particularly well all season. And on Monday, Gase’s frustration showed.

“We just want guys to do it right,” Gase said. “Whoever wants to do it right, those are the guys that we’re going to put out there. Talent’s irrelevant at this point.”

Much of Sunday’s game frustrated Gase. But none more so than this: pass protection isn’t giving Ryan Tannehill enough time to find receivers who are consistently open downfield.

Tannehill has been sacked six times in three games, tied for fifth-most in the league. He has been hit 19 times in 132 dropbacks. And the Dolphins have converted just 30.3 percent of their third-down tries, tied for 26th in the league.

”It’s hard to throw a ball with any kind of timing where they pressure and we get it picked up, but we get beat so fast that the quarterback doesn’t even have a chance,” Gase said.

When told Monday that Gase all but blamed the offensive line for the Dolphins’ struggles, Bushrod paused for a few seconds before responding:

“We have to look at ourselves individually and as a unit and find a way to get better.”

Tannehill does too, even if Gase is loathe to criticize his starting quarterback. Tannehill threw two interceptions Sunday, including one on his first pass of the game.

And many of the issues that plagued his first four seasons — staring down his receivers and pocket presence — have popped up in Year 5.

Tannehill’s passer rating in 2015 was 88.7. His passer rating through two games of 2016? 88.8.

“I think he had some mistakes that I know he’d want back,” Gase said, before adding: “I know there was a couple times where he was in the right position and somebody else broke down. We had way too many mental errors. It’s the same stuff over and over again, so we’ve gotta get some things cleaned up and if we can’t get it cleaned up, then we need to find somebody else to put in those positions.”

And do so quick.

Tuesday will be the Dolphins’ only full day of preparation for the Bengals.

Not surprisingly, then, Gase had neither the time nor the inclination to enjoy his first career win as a head coach.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross presented Gase the game ball in the locker room after the Browns game, according to a player. But when Gase was asked by a reporter Monday if he kept any memento from Sunday, he said no.

“I think we’ve got a lot of improvement to make,” Gase said. “The good thing is we get to line up and do it again on Thursday.”

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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