There’s no dispute that Adam Gase turned around an unsuccessful start in his rookie year as a head coach in Miami, into a playoff season. And there’s equally no doubt that he had to make tough decisions along the way, as head coaches frequently are required to do.
For example, running back Jay Ajayi had not been taking preparation seriously enough for Gase’s liking. So, the head coach took the drastic step of not only de-activating a healthy second year running back who was supposed to share carries with veteran Arian Foster, but he left him completely back in Miami for their opening trip to Seattle.
Message to rest of team sent.
Then, with the poor play of the Fins offensive line, and a struggling 1-4 start, Gase took an even more drastic measure, and outright released two players in response. One of them, Billy Turner, had started the previous two games.
Again, big message sent. I may be a first year coach, but I am in charge.
But, Gase also made some mis-steps year one and Wednesday he elaborated and took responsibility for one of them: misusing veteran pass rusher Cameron Wake early on.
As the Herald item discusses, once Wake went back to being on the field more, he excelled in the final 10 games and the Dolphins went on roll making the playoffs. And, the players noticed Gase taking accountability with them.
But, here’s where Gase must now be careful. The head coach wears many hats in professional sports these days: part strategist, part personnel guy, part psychologist, but most of all leader of the team.
They will follow you, as long as they believe in you and your message(s) and your actions around those messages.
The actions with the disciplining Ajayi got through and he became a 1,200 yard back. The actions with the offensive linemen sent a clear message, and the line play in front of Ajayi and QB Ryan Tannehill improved.
But, benching and cutting players (like the Wake example) can also backfire. And so too, will being too transparent/honest about making mistakes. Upper management hears and reads like we do. Fans will certainly jump all over it, especially if a team is not succeeding like the start to 2016.
Most coaches stick with: “That was my decision at the time and a I would do it again” mentality.
Now, the Dolphins went on a roll and won and silenced the critics and the second guessers of Gase. But rest assured, these situations, problems, and decisions will come up, again and again.
Honesty about mistakes, internally and externally is fine. But it’s not good for the leader to make a habit of it.