Steve Mitchell

Miami Dolphins: Practice Makes Perfect

When Don Shula first arrived in Miami from The Baltimore Colts in 1970, he inherited a Dolphins team coming off a miserable 3-10-1 record, from the previous season. Needless to say, a lot of work was going to be required, if improvement was going to happen.

Shula promptly traded Miami’s first round pick to Cleveland for all star receiver Paul Warfield.  Miami already had several key players already on the roster like Bob Griese, Larry Csonka, Nick Buoniconti and Dick Anderson.  But under former coach George Wilson, the future AFC East Champs played more like Chumps.

Coach Shula was not going to stand for any of that nonsense, and started a 3-a-day training camp practice routine.  No one was going to outwork Shula.  Of course the players weren’t happy but this was 1970 and Shula was already considered the best young coach in the game.

The players complied and the Miami Dolphins went from losing 10 games the year before, to winning 10 games, in Shula’s first year.  They would eventually lose to the Raiders in the first round of the playoffs, but the seeds to greatness were planted.  The Dolphins would shortly go on to 3 Super Bowls in a row, including the Perfect Season of 1972.

In today’s NFL, 3-a-day practices would violate the Players Union Agreement with the league.  Shula’s Dolphins were hitting more times in one day, than modern teams hit in an entire week.

This is supposed to lessen the chance for injury, extend players careers and most importantly, lower concussion rates and the chance for a brain damage.  With the amount of money the players make, it also protects the owners from spending guaranteed dollars and losing a player before the games are even played.

Coaches like Don Shula would certainly have had a tough time with today’s rules and players, but I am sure he would have adapted, and still found a way to outwork the other teams.  That was his way.

Now we have Adam Gase.  He is also a young coach, but comes to Miami with no NFL head coaching experience.  He is said to be a hard worker, offensive-minded and player friendly.  This seems to be the new breed of coach in the NFL.

Like Shula, Gase inherits a team that lost 10 games from the previous season, with several good players on offense and defense.  The question is can Gase get the most out of these current players, as opposed to former coaches Joe Philbin and Dan Campbell who could not?

We will soon see, but we’ll only see it one time a day in training camp…Not three.



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