Greg Cote

Dolphins at a loss and Gase must help them find their way now

Dolphins coach Adam Gase is searching for answers to the team’s problems, but he can’t take too long to find them.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase is searching for answers to the team’s problems, but he can’t take too long to find them. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Miami Dolphins players and coaches were handing out turkeys Monday afternoon. Wait, haven’t they been doing that for the past four games?

The holiday charity of feeding the hungry is a good thing, of course. Now if only this team was half as good at feeding its hungry fans.

It’s remarkable how easily hopelessness sets in around these Dolphins, but understandable, too. There is so little faith in this franchise, top to bottom. A half a season after ending that long playoff drought (or was that a mirage?), the Fins still stand only one game off NFL playoff pace at 4-6 in the weak AFC, but four consecutive losses and a tough closing schedule make the postseason seem like a speck on the horizon that you must swim a roiling ocean to reach.

On deck: The scariest three words in football, “At New England.”

Now quarterback Jay Cutler has a concussion, which may or not be a good thing. Coach Adam Gase is oddly reluctant to just bench Cutler for cause and name Matt Moore the starter, but the concussion protocol makes his job easier. Take your time, Jay. No hurry. Instead of having to answer who the president is, Cutler can’t play until successfully naming all the U.S. vice presidents in sequence, how’s that?

This team should have signed Colin Kaepernick instead of Cutler. Wrote it then. Believe it now.

“Will the Dolphins win another Super Bowl in my lifetime?” You used to hear that at local old folks’ homes. Now you hear it in middle-school cafeterias.

Did I mention that Jay Ajayi ran for 91 yards on seven carries for the Eagles on Sunday night?

Let me know if the Dolphins do anything consistently well. I’ll wait. Seriously, I got time.

Miami Dolphin head coach Adam Gase speaks to the media after the Dolphins are defeated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Hard Rock Stadium on Sun., Nov. 19, 2017.​

In Sunday’s home loss to mediocre Tampa Bay and backup Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami passed for 365 yards, averaged 4.4 yards rushing, had a 180-yard receiver and from all that managed only two touchdowns. Why? They had 17 penalties.

Monday, Gase was still sounding like a coach talking during training camp or in the preseason, not 10 games in.

“Just going back to fundamentals,” he explained it. “Make sure we’re doing all the little details right in practice. All these things are very fixable.”

But they weren’t fixable in July or August?

Why so many pre-snap penalties?

“If I had that answer we wouldn’t have pre-snap penalties.”

Job description: Have that answer or find it, and don’t take 10 games to do it.

I’m still a believer in Gase, but continued malaise will strip away the Teflon by degrees and make him fair game for blame. It will be the bottom line, wins and losses. But the onus is even greater when you have a player go AWOL before the opener, an assistant coach bounced for snorting white powder at his desk and a player arrested just this past weekend. Stuff like that does not convey the idea you are running a tight ship.

Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry talk about their loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs.

By the way, has there ever been a time — more than right now, this week, today — when Miami and South Florida has simultaneously been this excited about the Hurricanes and this down on the Fins? Not that I can recall, and I’ve been chronicling these things for a minute.

The Dolphins never had a losing record the five years The U won a national championship. The Canes were 5-6 in both 1972 and ’73 when the Dolphs won Super Bowls, but that was pre-dynasty and pre-swagger for UM.

Now our community watches as the unbeaten Hurricanes soar to No. 3 in the College Football Playoff polls with a chance to win another national championship, and watches as the pratfalling Dolphins lose three consecutive prime-time games and then somehow find a way, in Sunday’s 30-20 loss, to give up 10 points in the game’s final four seconds.

A UM championship would be its first since 2001. You know what’s been an even longer wait? For the Dolphins to win another playoff game.

Aside to Mark Richt: Could you maybe loan Gase a few players, or a few answers? He could use the help.

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