The Miami Dolphins are ready to open a new training camp and new season with a new coach, and that’s a welcome breeze of optimism and promise to relieve us from this sweltering summer. It’s cool in more ways than one, folks.
But Adam Gase is not just a new Dolphins coach.
He’s another new coach, the fourth man to take the franchise reins at the start of a season in the past decade.
Do the math on that. The Dolphins are averaging a new coach almost every two years — and that doesn’t even count the two interim coaches the team has hired and then discarded since 2011.
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That’s not so cool. That’s horrible.
That must change.
Gase must find some way to make that change. Club owner Stephen Ross must find a way to make that change.
The Dolphins, a team that has washed, rinsed and repeated soiled coaching hires all too often the past decade, need to get off the coaching carousel if they’re ever going to win consistently again.
That falls on Gase.
That falls on Ross.
That falls on the local media, believe it or not.
And it also extends responsibility to fans.
South Florida, like it or not, has simply gotten too cozy with the idea of firing coaches as punishment for not meeting expectations. This region, a paradise to the rest of the country, is a graveyard for coaching careers.
Randy Shannon was the answer until a year or two after he got his chance at the University of Miami, then the whispers of discontent began to echo that he wasn’t right. Al Golden was a great recruiter and the answer until a couple of years into his tenure when fans and others decided he wasn’t.
The Marlins are on their sixth manager since 2010 when Fredi Gonzalez was fired — and that doesn’t count the one game Brandon Hyde managed and lost in 2011 before giving way to a Jack McKeon stint.
Edwin Rodriguez, Ozzie Guillen, Mike Redmond, Dan Jennings and McKeon? That’s just a list of replaced managers that some folks in South Florida believe Don Mattingly will eventually join.
The Heat has been a rock of consistency with Erik Spoelstra as coach since 2008. The club is our most consistently excellent sports team, and Spoelstra is a big part of that.
But I shouldn’t be the only one to remember when the Big 3-led Heat of 2010-11 started with a disappointing 9-8 record, leading to a players-only meeting, there was plenty of speculation among fans and the media about Pat Riley taking over the on the bench.
We love our billion-dollar teams and their million-dollar players. But quite often when it comes to coaches and managers, sports in South Florida has boiled down to change.
Gase knows this. He knows this because I’ve told him.
During a conversation last spring I told the man who has coached in Baton Rouge, Detroit, San Francisco, Denver and Chicago that down here we’re not too patient. He’s got to win to get people’s attention and then keep winning to keep their loyalty.
And if he doesn’t, like Tony Sparano didn’t after early success, media will turn on him. And fans will turn on him. And eventually Ross will turn on him, as he did on Philbin.
“And then you’ll get fired,” I told him.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Gase said.
Sorry, I’m not a diplomat. But I am an observer hopeful Gase signals the end of the trend that has plagued the Dolphins for a decade.
One reason the Dolphins haven’t been able to remain patient with their coaches, especially recently, is because they hired the wrong people in the first place.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have forged a bond with Mike Tomlin as they did with Bill Cowher before him and Chuck Noll before him. They were able to do that because all three men are or were excellent coaches.
The Dolphins knew — or should have known — Gase’s predecessor wasn’t a good coach within two seasons on the job. Everyone knew Cam Cameron wasn’t meant to be an NFL coach months into his 1-15 season.
It wouldn’t have mattered how long those men would have stayed, or how patient everyone would have been. They simply weren’t the right hires.
Gase hasn’t coached a preseason game yet and already strikes me as a good hire.
He’s different than the past few guys I’ve covered. He’s just the right kind of bright and brash. He’s smart, but he’s not an egghead. He’s got an edge and fire to him, but he’s aware a team cannot survive merely on emotion and motivation over 16 games.
Gase wants to teach. He wants players to embrace the process of improving, rather than thinking about scores and results. And he wants to lead.
Gase has shown me already he is a leader.
None of this guarantees the Gase-led Dolphins are going to win in 2016. It’s a safer bet to expect them to be mediocre, although Gase certainly doesn’t share those expectations.
What we can expect that even in defeat this team will show urgency. It won’t seem overmatched or outwitted. If it takes on the personality of its coach, this team will play smart and fight.
And if that happens, Adam Gase should be worth keeping around for a long while because the winning will eventually come.