According to the team's assistant head coach Darren Rizzi, who has been with the Dolphins in some fashion since 2010, the new coach-culture combo led to three more wins in 2016.
"I've been on, I think, teams that were 7-9 that might've had more talent than we had last year," Rizzi told the Palm Beach Post.
"We had a lot of teams here in my years -- I've been here eight years -- there have been some teams where we had to win at the end of the season where we didn't," Rizzi added. "We had to win some big games that we didn't. We can probably point to two or three different years. We can sit here and talk about a bunch of different years, and last year we did."
The addition of Gase into the AFC East has been fascinating. Not since Rex Ryan in 2009 and 2010 has there been a belief that a team could actually, maybe, one day in the future upend the Patriots. As the Post noted, last year's Dolphins team had all the marks of club on the rise: An excellent record in seven-point games (8-2) and a plus-46 point margin after halftime.
The Dolphins have never been short on stockpiling big names and talent but for the first time last year, we saw a certain momentum. All of the Pro Bowl ability headed in the right direction. If Gase was worth three wins in Year One, even a slight improvement makes the division more interesting than it has been in almost a decade.