The Miami Dolphins have finally found their coach – and that should soften the sting of a playoff beat down in Pittsburgh.
In the moments after a season-ending loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, players were still frozen in the locker room. Not from cold, but because they truly believed they could win.
That's all because of Adam Gase.
The Dolphins first year head coach turned a team that hadn't been to a playoff game in eight years into believers. He convinced them that after a disappointing 1-4 start to the season, they could still be a winning team.
He was right – and he earned their respect.
"I'll ride with that guy all day, every day," said running back Damien Williams, who scored Miami's only touchdown in Pittsburgh.
"We walked in here (the locker room) together, he was teary eyed, I was teary eyed," Williams said. "It hurt. But hey, we're coming."
The pain was visible on the face of running back Jay Ajayi, who also appeared to have teared up after the finality of the season hit him.
"I don't know anyone that is just content with being in the playoffs," he said. "We wanted to win the whole thing. I know I did. It hurts."
After sitting hunched over at his locker, dejected about the loss, wide receiver Jarvis Landry was ticked off when asked about this season being a successful one.
"I don't look at this as an accomplishment, just to make the playoffs," Landry said. "I wasn't just happy to be here today."
The truth is that this season was absolutely a successful one. The Dolphins overachieved and found young players who they can develop for the future while overcoming injuries. But the fact that they're not content, not satisfied - a direct reflection of Gase.
Even the Dolphins owner was on the same page when asked if this season was a successful one.
"I'm disappointed," said Stephen Ross. "But I think the seeds are there for something that could be terrific. Everybody here will be happy when we win the Super Bowl."
Ross said he congratulated Gase for a good first season. A season that ended with a thudding loss, eerily reminiscent of the Dolphins last playoff appearance in 2008.
However, this time the future is brighter. And that's thanks to Gase.