The Jets. The Buccaneers. The Raiders.
All three teams are under .500.
All three teams beat the Dolphins.
And by doing so, all three teams kept the Dolphins out of the playoffs.
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It’s that simple.
And the Dolphins know it — and it hurts.
The look on Adam Gase’s face Wednesday said it all.
The Dolphins were eliminated from postseason consideration with a loss to the Chiefs. Asked whether the finality of the season has set in over the past two days, sighed and said, “Yeah. You can say that.”
“I think when we go back and revisit the season in the offseason, there’s probably going to be a lot of frustration,” Gase said. “We let a lot of things slip through our fingers. That’s where we’ve got to understand, when you’re a young player sometimes, you forget how valuable every game is. We have a lot of young guys now have to learn how to care each week because you never know when that’s going to be the week that changes your season, one way or another.”
A lot of things went wrong for the Dolphins this year — Ryan Tannehill’s injury, the hurricane canceling the bye week, Chris Foerster’s notorious drug video — but they were lucky in a lot of ways, too.
Most specifically, they play in the terrible AFC, where nine wins — if not eight — will get at least one team into the playoffs.
Even after losing five consecutive games, the Dolphins would have made the playoffs if they had won their last five. If they had beaten the Bills and Chiefs in the last two weeks, they would be in a win-and-get-in situation in Sunday’s finale against Buffalo. They would control their own destiny.
Instead, they went on the road to two cold cities and failed to show up.
“We have to understand we’re going to play in every kind of environment, weather-wise, hot, cold, rain, snow,” Gase said. “It doesn’t matter, whatever it is, we’ve got to figure out a way to play well in it. These last two weeks were a valuable lesson for us. We didn’t play as well as we needed to. We were in the cold and we have to play better in those situations.”
Blame can — and surely will — be assessed in the coming weeks. Gase will be back in 2017, but can we say the same about all of his assistants? Probably not.
The Dolphins had Super Bowl hopes to begin the season, and yet they missed the playoffs for the 14th time in 16 seasons. That’s unacceptable. And changes are coming. We just do not know what.
Does Gase feel like he personally did not do enough to maximize a talented roster?
“I think we all feel that way,” Gase said. “That’s why the offseason is a horrible experience to go through in a situation like this. You start going back through and tell yourself, ‘I should have done this, I should have done this, maybe I should have called this.’ You have to be extremely hard on yourself so you make sure you don’t make those mistakes again.
“That’s why it’s the greatest team sport you could possibly be involved in. Because it’s not going to be one guy,” Gase continued. “It’s going to be everybody. That’s from top to bottom. We all have a hand at this, and at the end of the day, we didn’t get it done.”