What you see on paper is pretty much what you’ll get from the Miami Dolphins the last nine weeks of the season.
The NFL’s trade deadline passed quietly for the Dolphins on Tuesday. They made no moves.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase hinted at the team’s thinking when he met with reporters about an hour before the deadline.
“It seems to be different than most sports,” Gase said. “You don’t see it as a much. It’s weird to be kind of involved in a trade in the NFL. When something happens, it’s an explosion of news.”
Instead, the deadline passed with little more than a whimper.
So aside from normal roster churning and getting back injured players such as Chris Culliver, Earl Mitchell (who practiced Tuesday for the first time in weeks) and possibly Dion Jordan, the team’s makeup is set for what it hopes is a playoff run.
“That’s what we’re playing for,” Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “We’re focused on the Jets right now and one game at a time, but the end game is to be in the playoffs and compete for a championship. Obviously we all know that’s a possibility.”
And a better one than you might think. Yes, the Dolphins are still just 3-4 and two games behind the Chiefs for the AFC’s second wild-card spot.
And yes, the top three AFC West teams would all make the playoffs if the season ended today.
But they also still need to play each other a combined five more times, meaning at least one will likely come back to the pack.
And the Dolphins’ next eight opponents are a combined 23-37-1, a stretch that includes two meetings with the Jets (3-5), who visit Miami on Sunday.
So the road gets a bit easier for the Dolphins, whose first seven opponents are together exactly .500 after Week 8 — 26-26-2.
That’s why Football Outsiders calculated the Dolphins’ odds to make the playoffs at 17.9 percent heading into their bye.
Gase on Tuesday wanted no part of that conversation. He didn’t even admit to watching the games Sunday that would impact the Dolphins’ chances.
“You don’t worry about it,” Gase said. “We’re more focused on one-week-at-a-time here now. We were talking that since we even started the season.”
Said guard Jermon Bushrod: “I’m just trying to win. I don’t care nothing about that right now. Because we still have quite the hill to climb. It’s too far down the road. Honestly, I don’t care about it right now.”
Instead, the Dolphins’ focus is on the immediate, which is smart. They’re in no position to overlook anyone, even the Jets, who have the worst pass defense in the league.
New York has also had a rough go of it on offense. The Jets are 28th in scoring (18.8 points per game), 23rd in passing (230.6 yards per game), and 31st in quarterback efficiency (with a 68.7 rating in 2016).
And despite rumors that Cameron Wake might be traded Tuesday, he will still be a member of the Dolphins on Sunday and for the remainder of the season. Bad news for Ryan Fitzpatrick.
“We’re just excited about where we’re at right now,” Tannehill said. “I feel like this whole season we’ve just been staying the course, just trying to keep getting better each and every week, each and every day. Obviously it’s great to see some fruits of the labor, so to speak, as far as having success on Sunday.”
Tannehill continued: “That’s what you play for. I think we’re on the right track right now. I think there’s a good feel, a good energy in the building, and we just have to keep on that track and keep it going.”