At this point, you would excuse Adam Gase if, in a private moment, he wondered exactly what he did wrong in a previous life.
Because karma — if it actually exists — has been Dolphins’ toughest opponent over the past two years.
What other explanation can you have for this stretch of luck since Aug. 1, 2017?
▪ Ryan Tannehill missed all of last season due to a freak injury suffered the second week of training camp.
▪ Starting middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan tore his ACL on the first preseason snap of his career.
▪ Hurricane Irma washed out the Dolphins’ 2017 opener, forcing the team to escape to Los Angeles and then to play games in 16 consecutive weeks.
▪ Free-agent pickup Lawrence Timmons went AWOL the night before Miami’s first game in 2017.
▪ Offensive line coach Chris Foerster not only did drugs in his office, but made a video recording and set it to an adult entertainer (who then posted it online).
▪ Fast-forward to 2018. MarQueis Gray, who was supposed to start at tight end Sunday against the Titans, but did not because four days earlier, he tore his Achilles tendon in a non-contact drill in practice.
So if you were surprised, then, that the Dolphins’ 2018 opener was circus, you simply were not paying attention.
The Dolphins and Titans played the longest game in NFL history Sunday — 7 hours, 8 minutes — after two two-hour lightning delays. By the time the contest finally ended, there were just a few thousands fans left in the seats and Fox decided its local audience was better served watching the national post-game show and the broadcast premier of Rel than the final few minutes from Hard Rock Stadium.
(WSVN-7 ultimately switched back to the game, but not before upsetting thousands of Dolphins fans who wanted to see their team celebrate.)
“I won’t be surprised by anything,” Gase said late Sunday night. “I think we’ve almost covered everything.”
It’s true that every NFL team encounters adversity.
But this has gotten ridiculous.
The weirdest stuff happens to this team, which three or four times a year manages to become national curiosities, despite having a sub-.500 record the last decade.
And yet, Gase and company have managed those crises relatively well. They beat the Chargers after getting displaced by Irma and Timmons freaked out. They had their best win of the year — the comeback in Atlanta — after Foerster’s video went viral.
And Sunday, they kept their focus (and intensity) throughout two lengthy delays to beat a playoff team from 2017.
“We’re together,” said receiver Jakeem Grant, whose 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was one of many huge Dolphins plays after the second delay. “We’re going to ride this thing out together. Who can handle adversity like us? We went through the hurricane with no bye. This is just another step, another challenge. I feel like we took on that adversity and came out with a W.”
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill wrote on Twitter Monday: “Wild game...part of me felt like we’d still be playing today. Glad to be a part of some history and get the year started with a win.”
Credit should go to Gase for helping his players block out that noise and execute their duties.
But how, exactly, has he managed to keep it together?
“I think as a coaching staff, players, everybody does a good job of trying to figure out the solution and then try to execute it the best we can and move on from it,” Gase said. “Look for ways to improve whatever we went through. I think a lot of these situations, I’m not sure if we’re going to go through again. It’s part of the exercise we’ll go through to make sure if something comes up again, how can do this better?”
Special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi has Gase’s effective crisis manager. The nine-year member of the Dolphins’ coaching staff has become Gase’s sounding board when these unconventional issues arise.
“We really get together a lot of times right away when something comes up,” Gase said. “We spitball some things and figure out where our starting part would be if we don’t necessarily have a plan in place.”