NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys roll to No. 1, Dolphins rising fast –

After ripping off four consecutive victories, including beating the San Diego Chargers, 31-24, on Sunday, the Dolphins are now a legitimate playoff contender.

Gase has done a great job turning this team around. His no-nonsense approach, which included cutting several veterans and starters when they weren’t playing well, has the Dolphins playing good football. His quarterback-whisperer ways have made Ryan Tannehill a much better player, which was especially true beating San Diego on Sunday.

Gase, a maniacal workaholic who has the right temperament for dealing with his players, has taken a Dolphins team that looked inept in a loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 5 and made them a run-heavy team that is now playing better defense. Gase doesn’t take any crap from his players — I think they are even a bit scared of him — and they know what to expect. But he is also smart enough to know when it’s time to pull back.

That’s a fine line with a coach. In his first year on the job, he seems to be doing a great job handling that.

Spending a few years with Peyton Manning, perhaps the NFL’s most maniacal worker, was like a laboratory for Gase to prepare for this step. They were two like minds who wanted nothing but the best.

Gase has instilled that in his team now. Tannehill, who has been maligned in his time with the Dolphins, is playing some of his best football. He made three throws against the Chargers, including a 39-yard dart to Kenny Stills for a touchdown, that were among the best he’s made in his career.

On defense, Vance Joseph has taken a limited group of talented players and made them much better the past month. Cameron Wake and Andre Branch have amped up the pass rush, which has helped cover up the secondary issues.

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The 5-4 Dolphins are up to 13th in my latest power rankings. They play next at Los Angeles against the Rams, a winnable game for sure. If they can get out of the California trip with a win — and they stayed out West — they will be 6-4 and legitimate wild-card contenders.

The Dolphins hired the right coach. They look like they have the right quarterback. And they can run the heck out of the ball with a physical offensive line and Jay Ajayi. The defense isn’t great, but it might be good enough under Joseph.

That rebuild might have to wait. Gase has this team in the playoff hunt — and himself into the Coach of the Year conversation.


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