Dolphins rookie coach Adam Gase is being lauded by his players and those outside the organization for reversing the moribund club's fortunes midseason and leading Miami on an improbable charge into possible playoff contention. The Dolphins (5-4) opened 1-4 -- barely toppling the winless Browns in overtime for that first victory -- but are seeing significant improvement on both sides of the ball.

Gase commanded the attention and respect of the team's veterans by releasing offensive linemen Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas -- the starting left tackle and left guard at the time -- after a loss to Tennessee on Oct. 9 (Miami's last defeat), which shook up the locker room.

"That message got through to the players loud and clear," one team source said.

The coach also put a heavy emphasis on the run game, getting massive contributions from Jay Ajayi, and his relentless support of embattled quarterback Ryan Tannehill has paid significant dividends, team sources said. "He's been huge for Ryan's confidence," said one source close to the quarterback, who has played the best football of his career during the four-game winning streak.

And, on the other side of the ball, coordinator Vance Joseph has simplified the defense after struggling to cull early production. Opposing advanced scouts, who have watched the Dolphins repeatedly on film, have noted the changes and believe it's been critical to unleashing more pass rush and big plays from the unit.

"They were a little too cute early on, trying to run more complex stuff," one scout said. "It was too much change from play to play. The last month or so they've been playing more zone, letting the guys up front change. That's a credit to them. They made some nice adjustments."