Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, into his second month as the top coach for the team, spoke to the media on Wednesday, answering reporters' questions about the future of the South Florida franchise. One theme ran throughout the media availability, as Gase, who will call plays on offense after spending two seasons as the Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator and last season in the same position with the Chicago Bears, discussed the changes he sees coming for Miami's offense, which finished last season 26th in total offense, 19th in passing offense, 23rd in rushing offense, and 27th in scoring offense.
"We have a philosophy of what we want to do offensively and then we kind of build around what players we have on the roster right now," Gase explained. "We've got some holes we have to fill and it starts with what happens at our running back position. The wide outs and the tight end group we feel great about, we just have to clean up the offensive line a little bit. Once we figure those things out, that's why the offseason is great, you have time to do this. Once we figure this out we'll have a better idea of what we're going to do."
Miami starting running back Lamar Miller is scheduled to be a free agent next month, with the Dolphins thought to be looking to bring him back. Does Gase see Miller coming back to Miami next season?
"The group that we have out in free agency right now, we're working to get these guys back," Gase said when asked about wanting to see Miller return. "We have some good players that are available and we have to do what we can to see these guys back on our roster."
The biggest question surrounding the Dolphins this year will all surround quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who will enter his fifth year established as the team's starter, but is coming off a year in which he plateaued, rather than taking the next step toward being a "franchise" quarterback. Gase touched on what he wants to see first from Tannehill this offseason, and what he wants to do with the quarterback when practices begin. "I think for us it's just going to be teaching the offense, that's going to take some time, we've got to figure out what's best for us," Gase explained. "We do have a different group than what we had in Chicago as far as the skill set, where are our strengths are. It's a different group of guys and so we're going` to have to figure out what we do best and that's what we're going to hang our hat on."
Throughout the offseason, wide receiver Greg Jennings has openly discussed how the former coaches for the Dolphins "handcuffed" Tannehill. Reports throughout the 2015 season indicated Tannehill was not allowed to audible from bad plays, instead being forced to run whatever play had been called by the coaches, even if it was obviously playing straight into the strength of the defense. Gase was asked on Wednesday if Tannehill will be allowed to audible at the line, "That's the one good thing about this offense, it's really on the players how much they can handle. It takes the entire group to understand what's going on.The quarterback can't do it if no one else knows what to do as well. It's something we eventually got to in Chicago. I thought Jay [Cutler] did a good job of handling that, that was something different that he hadn't really done a whole bunch of. But the quarterback in this system does have the ability to move in and out of plays, and it's going to be how much can our group handle. Earlier, it's probably not going to be as much as it will be later."
Gase is at the NFL Scouting Combine as a part of Miami's contingent looking at draft prospects for this year. ASked about his role in the evaluations process, Gase explained, "The great thing about having Mike [Tannenbaum, Vice President of Football Operation] and Chris [Grier, General Manager], they've been working together now for almost a year. I'm just kind of coming in and getting a feel for how they work. The great thing that we did, we sat down with the coaching staff, we talked about what we're looking for and Chris has done a great job of getting with our scouts, we've talked through the types of attributes we're looking for in each player and so as we go through this process, I'm really taking a little bit of a back seat to some of this because we're all trying to learn each other. I mean, Chris was hired to be the GM, he was hired to do a job of making sure we put together a great roster of players. so right now, that's his role and moving forward that's what he's going to do. We'll go through the draft and Chris is going to pick great players."
The NFL Scouting Combine will continue throughout the week, with Gase, Tannenbaum, and Grier working to find the best players who will assist the Dolphins in 2016.