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Tale of Two Jays: Cutler returns to Dolphins as Ajayi departs

Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase. (Courtesy: Sun-Sentinel)

Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Wednesday his relationship with running back Jay Ajayi had its “ups and downs,” and trading Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles was an indication, “It was just time for us to go our separate ways.”

“Our thing is it was time for us to move on,” Gase said. “We’d had conversations about kind of what we were going to do down the road. We felt like this was a good opportunity. We put some feelers out to see where other teams were at, and we’ve got some younger players there that we feel like we were going to move forward with and that was kind of the decision we came to.”

Asked whether his team is better without Ajayi, Gase said, “I like where we’re at right now.”

Gase also said he’s unsure whether he sent a message to the locker room with the Ajayi trade.

“That’s something you’d have to ask those guys,” he said, adding that’s not what he had in mind when the deal was made.

Jay Ajayi trade seemingly sends message as Dolphins have 'good day' of practice

With Ajayi gone the bulk of the running game responsibility falls on Kenyan Drake, the 2016 third-round pick, and Damien Williams, the third-down specialist, with Senorise Perry, primarily a special teams player, also available.

Gase said that’s the crew at running back.

“No, we didn’t inquire about anyone else,” Gase said of their talks leading up to Tuesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline. “We’ll just kind of see how it goes from here on out.”

Gase said he’s not necessarily thinking his play-calling will differ in the run game with Drake and Williams instead of Ajayi. He said things sometimes tend to change, pointing out Ajayi didn’t like the outside zone runs initially then began having success and eventually favored the play.

“We’re going to be able to maximize what they do well,” Gase said of his running backs.

Gase has always liked Williams’ toughness and competitiveness.

“He’s done nothing but make plays for us,” Gase said of Williams. “Kenyan, we really feel fits the mold we’re looking for in the backfield. I like those two guys working together.”

Drake only has 20 touches this season. He has 10 carries for 25 yards, three receptions for 7 yards, and seven kickoff returns for 143 yards (20.4 yards per return).

Williams has 12 carries for 32 yards (2.7 yards per carry) and eight receptions for 50 yards (6.3 yards per receptions).

Perry has no statistics from scrimmage.

Gase said his desire at running back is simple.

As for Ajayi, Gase said he tried to do what was asked “the majority of the time.”

He said the biggest issue was “just kind of getting on the same page and sharing the same philosophy of how we want to do things.”

Regarding his conversation with Ajayi about the trade, Gase said “it’s never a fun situation” but called it a “great opportunity” because Ajayi was going to “probably one of the best teams in the NFL right now.”

“Coaches change, players change,” Gase said. “It’s just kind of the nature of the business.”

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