The Miami Dolphins are looking to change their identity from a rudderless ship under Joe Philbin to one with direction, passion, and accountability. The Dolphins stared the transition with the firing of Philbin after a 1-3 start to the season, then really started the transition in earnest when the regular season ended last Sunday. After a week of full on interviews, which succeeded a 13 week preparation by the team which included over 237 phone calls researching and preparing for the candidates they would interview, the Dolphins hired former Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase to be the 12th head coach in team history.
After announcing the hire and finishing all the paperwork, the Dolphins and Gase held an introductory press conference, giving the media a chance to meet Gase, as well as get a little more insight into the interview process and the future plans for the team. Gase, who spent one year as the Bears offensive coordinator after two years in the same position with the Denver Broncos, plans to continue to be the offensive play caller as Miami's head coach. "I'll call the offensive plays," Gase explained. "I feel like I've been doing it for the last three years. I really enjoy it. I really enjoy that aspect of putting the game plan together with the offensive staff. So going into this season, that's how we are going to start, with me calling them. And then as soon as we can shake through putting a staff together, talking to guys here, if I end up finding the right offensive coordinator that eventually I feel like I could turn the play calling over, then that's the direction we'll head. But as far as right now, I will be the play caller."
That does not mean that Gase will force his offensive system on the Dolphins, but will rather look to the strengths of the players and design the offense to them, "We are going to look at the roster we have right now and build our schemes around our players. So as a starting point, you look at what my background is on offense, we've run multiple things. We are a very fluid offense. But we are really going to base this thing around the guys that we have on the roster and what we add on there. So we are at the very beginning stages obviously with that."
Gase's most obvious strength is his ability to work with quarterbacks. Gase was the quarterbacks coach for the Broncos in 2011, when Tim Tebow took over as the team's starting quarterback after a 1-4 start under Kyle Orton. Gase was able to coach Tebow into a winning record for the Broncos, including a win in the Playoffs. He then spent a year as the quarterbacks coach for Peyton Manning after the future Hall of Fame quarterback signed as a free agent with Denver, then two years as the offensive coordinator for Manning. During that time, Manning had the second and third highest single season completion percentage of his career, he set an NFL record for touchdown passes in a season (55) in 2013, and an NFL record for passing yards in a single season (5,477), also in 2013. This past season, Gase worked with Jay Cutler, who had the second highest-completion percentage of his career, the highest passer rating of his career, the fewest interceptions thrown in a season in which Cutler played more than 10 games, and his best touchdown to interception ratio in games in which he played in more than 10 games.
Will Gase be able to have the same sort of impact with Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill? He definitely plans on trying. "I think it's going to start with me," Gase said of who will have the greatest influence on Tannehill, the quarterbacks coach, the offensive coordinator, or Gase. "I think he needs a guy that's going to have his back; that he feels comfortable with right out the gate. And I'm going to be working directly with him. And then I am going to hire guys on the offensive staff to also help him develop. I feel like when we do put a staff together we are all going to be able to help him get a little bit better."
Gase was asked if he thinks Tannehill is a quarterback who can get the Dolphins to the Super Bowl. "Well this is where we're at right now with Ryan, I've seen him play very minimal games. I've seen him play live once, not counting a preseason game where we played him at Denver. I know he had a pretty good game against us that game. We're going to go back. We're going to evaluate everything from the quarterback on down as far as offensive personnel. So really, at this point, we're not ready to make any kind of predictions. I think we're just going to have to see where his strengths are and really emphasize that."
The Dolphins offense was clearly as a disappointment last year, including Tannehill who seemed to plateau in his fourth season in the league. Gase will be expected to fix the offense and get Tannehill back to looking like a franchise quarterback. The Dolphins have talent on the offense, talent that the team did not use correctly in 2015., If Gase is true to his word and designs the offense to take advantage of the team's strengths, rather than trying to force players into an offense that does not work for them, the Dolphins could have a bright future ahead of them. But, it all depends on how well Gase can transition to being the head coach of a team for the first time in his career.