According to numerous reports, the Miami Dolphins are closing in on a contract with Chicago Bears offensive coordinator to become their next head coach. The news, which was first reported by Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald late Friday evening, came with a lot of mixed reaction from fans on social media.
One of the driving points of many was that Gase was just like former Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. They pointed to the fact that he was inexperienced, has never been a head coach before and that he has only been an offensive coordinator for three years. Philbin was similar in the fact that he had never been a head coach before and was only an offensive coordinator in the NFL for four years.
From there though, the similarities should and need to stop. For this article, we will look specifically at the intelligence of each coach along with their ability to game plan. First though, we will take a look at their coaching trees.
Philbin didn't have a great coaching tree. He coached in small colleges such as Tulane, WPI, USMMA, Allegheny, Harvard and more. His biggest college was Iowa, where he worked under Kirk Ferentz, From there, he moved to the Green Bay Packers where he coached under Mike Sherman and Mike McCarthy. So, he learned under Ferentz, who has been stuck in college since 1999 and while he has a good program, it has never gotten to the point of a national powerhouse on a consistent basis. We know what happened with Sherman and while McCarthy has a Super Bowl ring, he isn't someone that makes you get all crazy and excited about. Those were his mentors.
The people that Gase has worked with during his coaching career, which started in 2000, is a list of all-stars. While he was attending college at Michigan State, he worked under Nick Saban. When Saban left for LSU, he followed him. In Detroit, from 2003-2007, he worked under Steve Marriucci. When Mariucci got fired, Gase worked under Dick Jauron and Rod Marinelli. Mike Martz became the offensive coordinator from 2006-2007 and Gase served under him as the quarterbacks coach. Then, in 2008, Martz moved to San Francisco to be their offensive coordinator and Gase followed him as an offensive assistant. In 2009, Gase went to Denver as wide receivers coach under head coach Josh McDaniels. When they brought John Fox in a year later, he was the quarterbacks coach under offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. When McCoy left, he was promoted to offensive coordinator.
You can see the huge difference. Philbin hasn't worked with many all-star coaches throughout his coaching career. The list for Gase is impressive though. Even more, Gase has taken a little bit of everything from everywhere he has been and has formulated his own philosophy and ideals based on all of that.
Getting to the side that really matters - the one with Xs and Os - will show you just how more advanced Gase is than Philbin. It has been made known publicly that in Green Bay, Philbin never called plays as offensive coordinator. Instead, he was the one responsible for organizing and preparing for the week while also putting together the game plan.
With that said, many were not concerned. John Schneider, current general manager of the Seattle Seahawks, was with Green Bay from 2002-2010 and said that the fact Philbin didn't call plays was way overrated. In fact, Schneider said he was doing the majority of prep work throughout the week and that he had a huge impact on everything the Packers did.
Philbin, as described in this article from the Palm Beach Post, would address the entire offensive unit every day. Then, the offensive coaches would split up game plan responsibilities on Monday. On Tuesday, they would get back together and put it together in a PowerPoint presentation. Then, they would give it to McCarthy later in the day in preparation for the players coming in on Wednesday.
During the games, Philbin would sit in the box and relay information to McCarthy. He was responsible for telling McCarthy when to throw the red challenge flag and would also review overhead photos of the opposing defense. Perhaps though, looking back on it now, this quote just about sums up Philbin's career in Miami.
"If any PowerPoint slide had a spelling or grammar mistake, any typo, any scheme error, that was my responsibility, just like a teacher," Philbin said. "If I presented something to the offense, they knew it was going to be done right and done professionally, and I expected them to do the same thing. If I get up there and show them something sloppy or half-assed, the players are going to notice that, too."
There is no doubt that Philbin was detailed, organized and professional. However, his team took on that attitude too. Philbin wasn't running a football team - he was running a business and expected his players, the same ones who he asked to go out and destroy other men on Sunday - to act professional, to be clean, and to keep their mouth shut - at all times.
Gase, on the other hand, is the ultimate grinder and is knee-deep into game plans and schemes. That is the word from Denver, Chicago and everywhere he has been. Going back to his time at Michigan State, he was impressive and always working the hardest. Making just $8,000 a year, he considered quitting after a year, especially when Saban left Michigan State. However, his friends told him that he was the one who was always working the hardest and actually having fun, so why would he quit? Gase stayed and it is worth noting that he was the only assistant Saban took with him to LSU.
"It was a conceptual thing with Adam, he just understood how things worked and he was willing to work and start from ground zero," Saban wrote in an email to the New York Times. "It wasn't like this was a star player who had played a lot of football. He wanted to be a coach and he was willing to invest as much time as it took."
In this same article from the New York Times, it talks about Gase started his coaching interests as a junior in high school and how his intelligence popped up then.
"As a junior in high school, he prepared flow charts, spreadsheets and broke down all the tendencies of our opponents on his own," said Rich Hulkow, who was Marshall High's football coach and athletic director at the time. "He was always in my office looking at film. He saved me a ton of work."
One of his friends, Josh Heppner, calls him the silent assassin.
"Adam just grinds, and good people are drawn to him. And these people find out how proficient he is. I call him the silent assassin. He doesn't say much, he just figures out how to beat you."
John Elway calls him a genius, John Fox calls him the master of innovation and Peyton Manning calls Gase one of the smartest people he has ever worked with.
"Adam is a lot like me in that he's always thinking of how we can do something better or different â or both," Manning said. "And he has an almost photographic memory. He can recall a defensive scheme we saw from eight games back and remember our exact formation and the play called."
The biggest thing though, is that Gase actually enjoys what he does, especially watching film.
"I enjoyed the numbers of a sport," Gase told the paper. "And there was something special about football, probably because there was so much time between games. I loved analyzing and planning for a game â 10 hours of work felt like one."
Better yet, he actually has called plays as offensive coordinator, something that Philbin never did, even during his time in Miami. Of course, there is much more to the chalkboard. One must be able to relate to his players, lead an entire unit and get everyone on the same page. Based on all reports, Gase will have no trouble doing that. But, as far as the football field goes - you will have trouble finding anyone more intelligent than Gase, the next head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
This column was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter! Follow @FinsInsider