MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake couldn't help but chuckle when asked about the prospect of change within the coaching staff after another disappointing season. Change was the topic on everyone's mind following the Dolphins' 17-7 loss to the Jaguars.
"I assume every week you're playing for your job. I'm assuming every week the coaches is coaching for his job," Wake said. "It's an audition. It's a league with a short memory, what have you done for me lately."
Sunday's audition was a bust, and coach Adam Gase admitted as much, calling his offense "terrible," "awful" and "brutal to watch." Lately, Dolphins coaches and players shouldn't be happy with what they've put out there to be judged. But truth be told, Wake is probably more worried about his own future than that of Dolphins coaches or front-office members. He isn't alone.
Wake, an unrestricted free agent this offseason, spoke Friday about his Miami future. He has spent all 10 years of his NFL career in a Dolphins uniform, but when asked about playing in another jersey next season, he said, "Ideally no," but, "If it makes sense, I'll do it."
Dark clouds loom over the Dolphins as 2018 comes to a close. Nobody should feel comfortable after the Dolphins find themselves in mediocrity again, and the looming offseason will provide answers about who stays and who goes.
As Dolphins owner Stephen Ross walked across the locker room with his head down about 30 minutes after the game ended, a few Dolphins players watched him stroll from one side of the room to a locker room exit door on the other side. They know Ross holds the keys to the future of many people, starting with those in the front office, down to the coaches and several key players.
“I don’t need to lobby for my job," Gase said. "If (Ross) says there’s an issue, I’ll know.”
Gase said they didn’t overestimate the talent on the team. Instead, he cited injuries to key players that helped knock the season off track. “We started the year 3-0 for a reason," he said.
Gase on a plan for fixing this: “We’ve been talking about it for three years. It is what it is. We had a lot of good things going on, and we lost some players. It happens. It’s the NFL.” He said it’s not up to him if he gets a fourth season.
Many Las Vegas books gave the Dolphins an over/under of 6.5 wins to start the season -- and whether the Dolphins finish 7-9 with a loss at Buffalo next Sunday or 8-8 with a win, they will still slightly exceed that expectation. But there's no moral-victory feeling for a Dolphins team that lacks the long-term promise that other non-playoff teams have heading into the offseason.
"It's going to be an interesting next week or two," one Dolphins player said after the game. "We're all are waiting to see what happens."
Questions at quarterback and defensive line scream out, and Miami also has several veterans older than 30 holding down key positions. Thirteen players landed on injured reserve -- many of them being key offensive contributors. There are obvious holes to fill this offseason but not everyone believes that lack of talent is the biggest problem.
"There is a lot of talent in this locker room. There are a lot of good players -- really good players -- on all three phases of the ball," cornerback Bobby McCain said. "Us putting it together as a team, as a unit, that's what we have to do. All year we haven't played collective football. ... There's too many ups and downs."
Failing to eclipse 200 yards five times this season -- and in three of their past four games -- is a problem that can't be ignored. Ranking in the bottom 10 offensively and defensively can't be ignored. The Dolphins have just as many or more roster questions now than when the season began. That can't be ignored.
Ultimately, Ross will have to decide who is at fault as to why his team won't be playing in January. He probably will find it's a mixture of coaching, players and personnel decisions. Then it will be on him to make a choice on what to do.
"It's a Dolphins issue. Can't really separate the two," Wake said. "It's not like the players can go to playoffs and coaches stay or vice versa. It's either all or nothing. We work together cohesively as a unit and we share failures; we share successes. It's on everybody."