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It's not only Mario: Multiple Dolphins players not playing hard enough

It was eye-opening when Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said Thursday that defensive end Mario Williams needs to play harder. I mean, that is about a cruel and cutting a criticism of a player anyone can make.

There are, after all, players that make mental mistakes. There are players that simply are less athletically gifted than others. There are players lacking experience. All of those can be tolerated. All of those are understandable.

But not playing hard enough?

Are we freakin' kidding?

And yet there it was with Williams.

“He’s got to play better. He’s got to play harder. He’s got to play better," Joseph said.

Harder? Like he's cruising sometimes? Not giving maximum effort?


Except it is not unreal to Dolphins coaches. Sources tell me coaches on both sides of the ball think multiple players on both sides of the ball are not delivering full effort all the time. I've been told coaches discuss the lack of effort or inconsistent effort practically every week.

Coaches, the sources say, believe Williams, Byron Maxwell, multiple offensive linemen, running backs, and receivers sometimes do not sell out every single play. That's the key, by the way, the consistency of effort on every play.

That means rallying to the football even when it is across the field. That means blocking until the whistle sounds. That means running full tilt on every single pass route -- which I mentioned in passing a couple of days ago does not always happen.

It is such a common topic within the football offices that head coach Adam Gase freely discussed it on Thursday when asked what he does to motivate players that don't always show maximum effort.

“I think a lot of times, it’s just in you," Gase said. "If you’re a guy that’s not a max-effort guy, it’s tough to bring it out. That’s why you try to draft guys, you try to sign guys that if you have experience with them, you’ve seen them do it in the past, you just try to get that consistency. Sometimes it’s inconsistent. If you can get it to where play-in and play-out and you say ‘Hey, maybe we have to cut the snaps down to where you’re full go all the time,’ then that’s what you do. You try to figure out a way to make it work. You sometimes know when a guy has it in him. You’ve just got to make sure you’re constantly staying on him to give that full effort."

You know, Gase is a new coach. He's got a lot on his plate. He's trying to learn his players. He's trying to teach and establish a standard on how he wants things done. He's trying to fix a major project in quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He's trying to win.

One thing he should get from every single player on the roster without having to ask for it is maximum effort 100 percent of the time.

 The team's record should not matter. The score in a game should not matter. Professionals are being paid and quite handsomely to at least try, for God's sake, to the best of their ability. Every. Single. Down.

How can this be a thing?