Dolphins coach Adam Gase delivered a heads-will-roll, scorched-earth news conference a day after his team was annihilated, 40-0, by Baltimore less than three weeks ago.
On Tuesday, Gase took the opposite tact, sounding surprisingly upbeat, in the wake of a 45-21 shellacking at Carolina, a loss that ended a humiliating three-game stretch of prime time games in which Miami was outscored 112-45.
"We just kind of lost our way, just for a minute," he said. "We need to regroup and get things back on track. This group is pretty good at moving on. The coaching staff too. It’s our job. We have a lot of time left. It’s not like anybody is running away with anything. It’s a total disaster everywhere."
Though the Dolphins sustained some significant injuries in August – including quarterback Ryan Tannehill and linebacker Raekwon McMillan – did Gase and the front office overestimate the talent on this roster?
"I don’t think so," he said. "I feel good about the group we have. We have to a better job of battling back when things don’t quite go as planned.
"End of the first half, that’s a pretty tight game. You get a turnover, they get a touchdown, they get the ball back, get another touchdown [to start the second half], and you go from a 7-3 game to [24-3]. We have to find a way to play a little better complementary football. That’s what we’ve been missing this year."
And two weeks after sending Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia on the day of the NFL’s trade deadline, Gase said: "I don’t see us reaching to just do something to drop a bomb on everybody," while adding: "If we feel like there is someone we need to make a move to make us better we will do it."
Even after a three-game stretch that hardly could have gone any worse, Gase looked for positives Tuesday. One is a 4-5 record that leaves Miami just one game out of a playoff berth.
Two weeks after ripping players for not studying enough, Gase said there has been "improvement" in that area.
"Especially on offense, I’ve seen a big difference," he said. "They are doing a better job of knowing what to do and doing a better job of executing it..... You are not going to be 100 percent every play as far as winning one on one battles."
He also praised his offensive line, saying "There was a lot more good than bad [against Carolina]. That’s a tough front seven. That was probably one of our better games that we’ve actually played. We couldn’t make the right play at the right time."
He also said he didn’t see lack of effort in the second half against Carolina, though ESPN’s Jon Gruden questioned the team’s poor body language.
"Effort is hard to question with this group," Gase said. "Sometimes the issue becomes other guys trying to cover for other guys. Offensively, I saw guys trying to find a way to get the ball in the end zone all the way to the end."
But even Gase’s optimistic outlook Tuesday couldn’t mask problems, such as a defense that has plunged to 25th in points allowed per play and yards per play and 26th in rushing yards per attempt.
"We’re probably overcompensating on certain spots, where guys are trying to cover for other guys," Gase said. "It’s biting us a little bit. When you do have as many playmakers as we have, when things start getting a leaky, someone will try to step up and make a play. We have to get back to guys doing their job. It’s hard when you have six or seven doing it right and other guys just trying to make plays."
And this problem has been an issue all season: The Dolphins have been outscored 114-43 in the first half, meaning Miami is averaging just 4.7 points before halftime.
"I feel we had a couple good chances in the first half [Monday] but didn’t get it done," Gase said.