When Sam and Chris first introduced me to “Perfectville,” I was hooked. I desperately wanted to attach my name to it. So when Sam reached out to offer me the Head Writer position, I responded emphatically with “THAT’S ANOTHER MIAMI DOLPHINS, FIRST DOWN! (my way of accepting.) I grew up watching Dan Marino but I truly fell in love with the ‘Phins when Ricky Williams was chewing up the Jets for a buck-fiddy on the reg. So, with that, thank you for reading my brand new blog: Write Travis Write.
You Should Buy What Adam Gase is Selling
I know. It’s ad nauseam at this point. We’re perpetually asked to buy into a team that breaks our hearts on an annual basis. I’ve been charged, tried and convicted of being a complete Dolphins homer and apologist for the better part of two decades. Despite Joe Philbin’s best efforts to tear down my unconditional fandom, this new coaching hire has put me back together like a bad 90’s movie makeover montage.
The hiring of Adam Gase is the best decision this franchise has made since it stirred up rumors about Dan Marino and cocaine use that allowed the hall of fame quarterback to slip to the Dolphins late in the first round of the 1983 draft.
After three and a quarter seasons of watching a spineless, stubborn coach with the ingenuity traits of autistic chimpanzee, Stephen Ross set his sights on a player’s coach. Someone that not only had the admiration of his players, but the respect as well. Stern, but fair. That’s the underlying theme to a lot of Gase’s former player’s testimonies.
Among those former players are Wes Welker, Jay Cutler and Peyton Manning. The former is in consideration for a coaching intern position with the club while Manning came in and spent some time with Ryan Tannehill and the quarterbacks in the initial organized team activities back in May. Prior to that time, coaches were prohibited from contact with players so Gase coordinated with Manning to have the recent Super Bowl champion go over some of Gase’s schemes and what to expect from the rookie head coach.
To quote Manning directly, when speaking of Gase, “I’m very happy for Adam.
He had a great impact on me during our three years together here in Denver as my Quarterbacks Coach and then as Offensive Coordinator. He’s an extremely hard worker – a grinder. He’s extremely bright on all things football, an excellent communicator and always eager to learn more. He asks a lot of questions and writes everything down. I’ve always been impressed with his work ethic and his eagerness to learn more.”
Then there’s Jay Cutler. Cutler had the best season of his career in 2015 with the Bears, under offensive coordinator Adam Gase. To paraphrase, Cutler said it was the best offensive system he’s ever been a part of and that Gase is exceptional at keeping up with the changing times of the NFL – a very welcomed change to the Dolphins faithful, who had grown accustomed to Philbin’s inability to adapt. Gase has an astute ability to mask his player’s weaknesses and highlight their strengths. Keeping Cutler in manageable third downs kept the gunslinger from forcing balls down the field cutting his interceptions down 39% from his 2014 figure.
Ryan Tannehill had issues getting protections right in Bill Lazor’s offense. Gase uses a lot of pre-snap motion to force the defense to show its hand before Tannehill even touches the football. I think most Phins fans would agree that, when he’s protected and has a clear idea of where to go with the ball, Tannehill has the tools to be an elite level quarterback.
That leads us to the player acquisition portion of Gase’s rookie off-season. I don’t know if the credit belongs to Mike Tannenbaum, Chris Grier or Gase, but the 2016 version of this team has done something it couldn’t do in three plus years with Philbin at the helm. I’m talking, of course, about the offensive line. At least on paper, this group is far more talented than any group we’ve fielded since Tannehill was drafted.
Laremy Tunsil could play a better left guard than Dallas Thomas if he were forced to wear his signature “bongazhi” mask on each snap. Branden Albert is finally completely recovered from that gruesome knee injury he suffered in Detroit in 2014 and Ju’Wuan James is back from his injured toe nail. Generally, we’re supposed to defer to coaches because they’re professionals that automatically know more than casual fans. But there are a lot of intelligent Dolphins fans that have seen poor decisions made by Joe Philbin and the failed coaches before him. How Dallas Thomas retained a starting job for any amount of time is a sheer indictment of Philbin’s complete ineptitude.
I promise you that you won’t see Gase making those kind mistakes.
The staple of Adam Gase’s offense is his recognition of match ups and the mindset to alter his game plan each game to attack the defense’s weakness. The draft brought in a number of players that can attack different levels of the field and keep the defense off balance. This team has all the weapons Gase needs to churn out a top 10 offense. From the upgrades in protection, the assumption Tannehill will be better suited in this offense, to the first full year of the Devante Parker – Jarvis Landry duo and the mismatches created by Kenyan Drake, Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant, this side of the ball is stacked.
The aforementioned skill set applies to scheming and calling plays, but he still has to manage the day to day morale of the locker room. We’re all too privy to Philbin’s past antics of picking up gum wrappers, asking Davone Bess to remove his watch during a walk through, and somehow being surprised that a locker room full of 20-30 year old black dudes were bumping hip hop through the loud speakers.
There was a media session with Cameron Wake earlier this week where Ndamukong Suh took the reins of the questions portion of the Q&A. Both all-pros were laughing and yucking it up no more than 15 minutes after stepping off the practice field. Previously, the doldrums of the day to day under Philbin left these athletes feeling bored and not challenged. Guys are loose and playing for the coach already instead of playing in spite of him. We saw that it was an issue last year when the team rallied around Dan Campbell to consecutive blow out victories. It was clear the team was relieved that Philbin was gone. That aspect has a much bigger impact than the casual observer knows about.
In 2015 I thought the world of the Dolphins roster. I loved the depth at the receiver position, I thought the offensive line would play would be better with Billy Turner, Jamil Douglass and the return of Branden Albert, I thought the pass rush was going to be unstoppable and the new corners were going to be better (I mean they couldn’t be much worse, right?)
But then September happened and I was reminded just how important coaching is in this league. And so while I want to play the wait and see game with Adam Gase, it would be hypocritical to expect this team to not take a big step forward. This roster is talented. The coaching staff is light years ahead of where it was a year ago. So while I think you’ll see improved performances, that doesn’t necessarily mean a big jump in wins. There is an adjustment period, but there will be no more of those 14-0 holes eight minutes into the game. No longer will our second half adjustments be completely non-existent. No more timeouts spent at the end of the game on defense to give Aaron Rodgers time to regroup and convert a 4th and long.
Adam Gase was brought to Miami to change the culture and build a winning atmosphere. There may be some temporary patch jobs on the roster to get us through the 2016 season – but this team appears to have the long term approach in plan for the first time since Nick Saban was hired.
It may be a decade later than planned – but this team finally has the next big thing at the most important position in the game.
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