“The smartest guy I know.”
That was two-time Super Bowl champion and reigning touchdown-pass-king Peyton Manning referring to Adam Gase, prior to the Broncos Super Bowl 48 showdown with the Seattle Seahawks.
If you are the company you keep, then Adam Gase is bound for a Hall of Fame career. When he was first hired to re-establish a proud, winning culture for the Miami Dolphins, legendary players, and coaches alike, endorsed the rookie head coach.
“I wish I could’ve played for him.”
John Elway not mincing words when asked about Gase — then offensive coordinator of the Broncos.
Three-time winner of college football’s ultimate prize, Nick Saban, couldn’t stop pouring praise on his former employee when asked about Gase. “He learned rapidly, knew a lot of football beyond his years. So interested, learned so quick, didn’t surprise me he developed so quick. It was easy to tell right off the bat that he had the right stuff to be a good coach. Worked hard, got along great with the players, very bright, had sort of a natural instinct for football, picking up on things. Those kinds of guys you grow & develop. They see big picture more than some guys who have to grind to know it & memorize things.”
Gase has been the man in charge for just 21 regular season games (and one post-season game.) In that short period, Gase has already checked the boxes on a couple of “misery-milestones” as a Dolphins fan would describe it.
The Dolphins 20-17 comeback win over the Falcons on Sunday was the team’s 12th win in the last 16 games. Miami hasn’t enjoyed such a stretch since the 2001 and 2002 teams strung together a 12-4 stretch, over a 16-game period.
While Gase would tell you losing to the Steelers, and not erasing the 16-year playoff victory drought, made his rookie season a failure, undoing the eight-year playoff drought is an accomplishment in its own right.
What about the 25-year absence from the conference title game? Or the 33-year Super Bowl appearance drought? Never mind the 43 years that have passed since Don Shula last lifted the Lombardi Trophy for the Dolphins – Gase has given fans a glimpse into the successes of Dolphins-past.
In just 18 games, Gase has established something his former boss, Nick Saban, could never do in the NFL: A culture that rewards hard work, perseverance, and has taught young players how come out of close-games victorious. A culture that puts no man, or his individual strife’s, above the that of the team.
Lawrence Timmons learned the law-of-the-land when he mysteriously disappeared from the team just hours before his first season opener with the Dolphins.
Despite a lack of depth at the linebacker position, Gase refused to give into Miami’s prized free-agency acquisition. Barely acknowledging the incident after the victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, Gase soon thereafter acted by indefinitely suspending the estranged Timmons. Message sent.
Since his suspension, Lawrence Timmons has turned in three terrific performances.
Third-year Dolphins receiver, Kenny Stills, widely speculated to depart via free-agency after a breakout 2016 performance, returned to Miami on a team-friendly contract.
“Our relationship is unique, because of him, and he allows that with this team and with the guys on this team,” Stills said via conference call Wednesday night. “I feel like that’s a part of this building being special. He really, genuinely cares about us and is looking out for us and wants what’s in our best interest. So, it makes it easy to play for a guy like that.”
“You know there’s always opportunities out there — other opportunities — but I was focused on what we’re doing here in Miami and what we’re building here and honestly,” Stills said. “That’s really all I cared about.”
Spurning more lucrative offers from two other teams, Stills noted Adam Gase, and his program, as the primary reason for returning to Miami. Message received.
Don’t get it twisted, Gase is much more than the guy that instilled a positive work environment. It’s not uncommon for players to endure their most successful seasons under Gase. Stills set a career high in touchdowns, and posted the second-highest yards-per-target mark of his career with 8.96 (Antonio Brown registered 8.33 yards per target in 2016, for reference.)
In 2016, quarterback Ryan Tannehill enjoyed his finest year as a pro. The fifth year quarterback posted career highs in touchdown percentage, yards per attempt, and passer rating.
Current quarterback, Jay Cutler, was signed-on to be in the broadcast booth for the 2017 season. That all changed when Tannehill was lost for the year when his rehabbed ACL gave-way in training camp. Gase lured Cutler out of retirement, and Cutler has the Dolphins off to a 3-2 start.
Perhaps his experience with Gase in 2015 was the decisive factor in Cutler’s choice to return. In 2015, under the tutelage of Adam Gase, Cutler posted career bests in passer rating and interception percentage.
Peyton Manning’s historic 2014 season was accomplished with Gase coordinating the offense.
The term quarterback whisperer gets tossed around loosely but, in Gase’s case, it’s an appropriate moniker.
Gase’s prowess extends beyond adorning himself to the stars of the offense. Defensive veterans, and potential future-Hall-of-Famers, Ndaumkong Suh and Cameron Wake have a strong affinity for Gase.
From a piece authored by Jason Lieser last Thanksgiving-Eve:
“Overall he understands what the players need,” Suh said. “He’s adjustable and adaptable to different situations. He’s a young coach that’s been around the game a long time and seen a lot of great players and understands how to get us in position to be prepared for Sundays.”
Cam Wake took the hard road to get to where he is today. An undrafted-free-agent that earned his right to the NFL via the Canadian Football League, Wake has been the most decorated Dolphin during his nine-year stint with the team.
Again, from a piece written by Jason Lieser:
Wake highlighted that as one of the biggest reasons they’ve bonded and added that Gase is, “setting up the situation at this facility to let guys thrive, treating us like men but at the same time, when it’s time to have fun, we have fun. But when it’s time to work, we work. Our relationship has been tremendous and I’m looking forward to it getting stronger and stronger.”
If the comments of some of the most important people in league history, and the most important players currently with the Dolphins weren’t enough to persuade you, perhaps results will.
Achieving a 10-6 record is impressive for any rookie head coach. It’s outright staggering when you consider he was without his starting quarterback for three games, starting center for 11, perimeter cornerback tandem for a combined 12 games. It’s difficult to believe the team finished the season 8-2 without the presence of all-pro safety Reshad Jones.
But the Dolphins accomplished all of those things in year one of Adam Gase.
For a franchise that was once known as the winningest organization in all of football from 1971-2003, recent struggles have soured the general opinion on the Miami Dolphins.
Adam Gase has the Dolphins at a .619 winning percentage clip in his 21 games in charge. It’s too early to have undone all the anguish inflicted by the .417 winning percentage between 2004-2015 – but one thing is evident under Gase:
Losing is a thing of the past.
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