Quick thoughts from Adam Gase’s Monday news conference:
• On the state of the team: “We are not exactly where we want to be. We have had too many ups and downs. We haven’t played together yet. It seems like when we finally get moving on offense, we stub our toe on defense. When they have a couple good drives, to where they’re three and out, we don’t get anything going on offense. Defense has been keeping us in games all year.
“Oakland did a good job of some of the matches they got against our coverages. They finally started busting a couple runs on that one drive.
“I feel like we are close to clicking. We have to find a way to play together. If we can play a good game of complimentary football, that’s what we would like to see.
“Last year felt different a little bit. I know we had the same record. This year we are not in terribly bad shape in the injury department. Last week, our guys prepared the right way. That’s what has me somewhat excited moving forward. We have a stretch here where we have tough road games, tough home games, division opponents.
“Everything is up for grabs. It’s who wants to do it right week in and week out? Our guys have got a great opportunity. You’ve got a shot. Eight games. See what you’re made of. We’re close to doing some good things. We just have to play together as a team.”
• Gase had no updated on Ja’Wuan James, who had a hamstring injury and left walking gingerly. He said hopes guard Ted Larsen is getting close to playing.
With Larsen: “We’re going to need him. We felt like it was in our best interest in wait until he had a full day of padded practice, because when you have that long of a layoff and get thrown in there [it’s tough]. The Ted thing hurt us because it threw everything out of whack. It was the same day Ryan Tannehill [injured] his ACL.”
Gase said he’s excited to see safety T.J. McDonald, who comes off suspension.
• On the running game: “We had some good runs. I like where our running game is headed. We were able to do a couple things where we popped a big one, which is good to see. The guys out of the backfield in the passing game made a big difference. We are going to have to use both of them [Damien Williams, Kenyan Drake] because those guys were exerting a lot of energy, and [Williams] is one of our best guys on special teams. Those guys gave us everything they had. Damien cares about one thing. And that’s winning, whether he’s starting, a backup.... He wants to be on the field to help. When he’s on the field, he gives everything he has.”
• He likes how Kenyan Drake ran (9 for 69), but his “fumble is a tough one, kind of got spun around and hit weird. We emphasize it so much which we talked about the other day about how we never put the ball on the ground. It was a tough hit but we’ve got to hold onto the ball.”
Drake’s fumble was only Miami’s second on offense all season.
• On Julius Thomas’ breakout game (six catches, 84 yards): “We finally got some of coverages we were looking for, so that’s what happens.”
• On what he liked about Jay Cutler: “I thought he did a good job demeanor wise of staying the same. Never got too high, never got too low. He did a good job of buying some time. A couple of his throwaways were smart. If we can just clean the pocket up a little bit to set his feet, especially early, that kind of helps him throughout the game.”
• On the lack of successful deep passes - Miami’s longest play from a receiver this season is 36 yards - Gase suggested nothing can be done about that because if teams are “playing two man, you are not going to get those throws. We are calling it and we’re doing what we’re supposed to do with the ball with the coverages we’re getting”
He said there have been some deep balls called that never materialized because Cutler smartly didn’t throw into coverage.
“It’s all about timing and protection as far as what you’re calling and what they’re playing on the back end,” he said. “Sometimes they call the right stuff and it’s a chess match. There are times I’m calling shots and nobody knows I’m calling shots. When you’ve got three guys on two, and you’ve got a linebacker on Drake or Damien, you could force it in there [to a receiver], but I don’t think we’ll like the result.”
• On Ndamukong Suh’s strip sack of Derek Carr: “It was an unbelievable individual effort. For him to get a hand on the ball was unbelievable. The effort by everybody after that play --- that’s how we should play.”
• On Raiders tight end Jared Cook (8 for 126): “We gave them too much air.... We should have had tighter coverage. One time we were playing man, rest of time we were playing zone.”
• He declined to comment on changing his rule and allowing Julius Thomas, Michael Thomas and Kenny Stills to kneel on the sideline during the National Anthem.
Here’s my 12-pack of notes from this morning, with snap counts, interesting metrics, player personnel notes and how the Dolphins keep failing on national television.