A couple of Wednesday morning odds and ends as the Dolphins return to practice for Week 17:
▪ The league’s youngest coach and its best coach will go head-to-head Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. Bill Belichick has 236 career wins and 16 playoff appearances. But Adam Gase is headed to the postseason after a double-digit win coaching debut.
It’s clear Gase respects Belichick. On Wednesday, we learned the feeling is mutual.
When asked about the job Gase has done this year, Belichick answered immediately: “Tremendous. He's done a great job. They've got a good football team.”
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He then ticked off all the ways the Dolphins have won this year -- on Kiko Alonso interception returns, on late drives, and special teams plays -- and called the Dolphins “a well balanced team. ... Adam's done a great job.”
▪ Dolphins legend Jason Taylor is a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Of his 139.5 career sacks, more than a few came against New England.
Belichick, who’s one of the league’s great historians, was asked to weigh in on Taylor’s candidacy. While he didn’t come out and endorse Taylor, he made as strong an argument for his induction as anyone could.
“My memories of him weren't real good,” Belichick said. “We had a lot of trouble with him. A great player, great length, speed, quickness. ... A tremendous player.”
Belichick added: “He's one of the better players we've played against in the time that I've been here in New England. He was a tough match-up. I know [Tom] Brady never liked to see him. Neither did [tackle Matt] Light.”
▪ Belichick is always good for a five to 10-word answer to questions he doesn’t like. He held true to form Wednesday, when asked if the Dolphins’ three-game winning streak against the Patriots in Miami would give the Dolphins an edge this game.
“I don't know. I guess we'll see Sunday.”
Belichick did add later: “Hopefully we can play competitively down there.”
▪ Running back Jay Ajayi is the first Dolphins player to win AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors three times in the same season since Dan Marino did so in 1984, when he broke records and won the league’s MVP award.
Ajayi topped 200 yards for the third time this season in the Dolphins’ Week 16 overtime win against the Bills. Each time Ajayi has done so, he’s been named player of the week.