The swap of stars for workmanlike players led to reports of the Dolphins wanting to reshape the locker room.
On Thursday, coach Adam Gase gave some insight on the team's overhaul, pointing to loafing in a Week 15 loss to the Buffalo Bills as an impetus. The defeat started a three-game losing streak to close the season.
"That game at Buffalo just seemed like a 20-hour game," Gase said on WQAM-AM, via Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post. "I was just waiting for us to turn the corner and really get going and nothing was working for us. There was no swagger, no attitude, and it was disappointing to see. It wasn't everybody. You turn on that tape, there are guys that stand out noticeably as far as their effort and their play that was extremely high, and they were giving everything they had. We just did not have enough guys doing that.
"That's why we felt like we needed to change some things around."
While statistically the Miami stars played well that day -- Landry: 10 catches, 99 yards; Suh: 7 tackles, 3.5 for loss; Kenyan Drake: 16 rushes, 78 yards, TD -- the Dolphins got behind 21-6 at halftime and barely made it a game late, eventually falling 24-16. Jay Cutler's wayward ball security epitomized that game. The former Dolphins QB fumbled four times (Miami miraculously recovered each) and tossed three interceptions.
Attempting to discern which players gave Gase enough effort and which did not is a guessing game we won't dive into. Suffice to say Gase believes there was enough lazy play that he and team brass completely changed gears this offseason.
Downgrading talent for hard workers seems like a foolhardy plan in a league where the best players turn the tide of so many games. Trading young talent for aging players rarely goes well. Yet, as Patriots coach Bill Belichick consistently preaches, it's about having the right 53-man roster in the NFL. Gase and the Dolphins believe they've gotten closer to having a team they're ready to fight with in 2018. How they get there is their prerogative.
The results come Christmas time will eventually tell us if the moves jumpstarted by that loss in Buffalo were a success or failure.