On Saturday, the Miami Dolphins became the first NFL team to fill their head coaching vacancy this offseason. The team officially named Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase as the 12th head coach in franchise history. Gase will replace Joe Philbin (fired a month into the 2015 season) and Dan Campbell (interim head coach after Philbin was fired). Gase also is the league's youngest head coach at 37 years old.
Gase has an excellent track record of coaching quarterbacks. Both Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler enjoyed some of the best seasons of their respective careers working with Gase. The Dolphins now hope that he can work his magic and help quarterback Ryan Tannehill take that next step in his development.
Tannehill had a mediocre 2015 season. While the fourth-year quarterback threw for 4,208 yards and 24 touchdowns, a lot of those yards and touchdown came during garbage time.
After finishing 16th in the NFL in Total QB Rating (QBR) in 2014, Tannehill plummeted to 29th this season, placing him behind the likes of embattled Houston Texans starter Brian Hoyer, as well as rookies Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, to name a few. Gase said he hasn’t had time to study Tannehill’s game, but he will look at film so he can evaluate him.
“Well this is where we’re at right now with Ryan (Tannehill), I’ve seen him play very minimal games,” Gase said. “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.”
If Gase does decide to keep Tannehill as his long-term quarterback, he will have tailor his offense around him. Former Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor tried to make Tannehill fix his game in order to fit into his scheme, but it didn’t work.
Gase has a reputation of being a quarterback whisper. This season while with the Bears, Cutler had his most efficient season as a pro. Cutler threw for 3,659 yards and 21 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions. He finished with a competition percentage of 64.4 and a passer rating of 92.3.
Cutler’s turnaround was one of the reasons Dolphins owner Stephen Ross decided to hire Gase as head coach.
“Adam (Gase) is exceptionally intelligent and I knew he was a great coordinator,” Ross said. “You saw what he did with Cutler and it is amazing the respect he has in the coaching community. He is a first-time head coach and there will be bumps along the road and but I have the most confidence in him.”
When he was the Broncos’ offensive coordinator in 2013, Gase helped Manning have the most prolific season of any quarterback in NFL history. Manning’s 5,477 passing yards and 55 passing touchdowns are both NFL records.
Probably the most surprising thing that came from Saturday’s press conference was that Gase will be the person that will have the final say in determining the Dolphins’ 53-man roster.
“As it relates to the final 53, ultimately – while we will work collaboratively – ultimately those decisions will rest with Adam (Gase), Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum said. “This way our players know that they are ultimately held accountable to him and that’s who they will be answering to.”
Tannenbaum and new general manager Chris Grier will still be in charge of personnel. It is rare that a first-time head coach will receive so much power, but it appears the Dolphins really wanted Gase as their head coach.
Gase is the third head coach Ross has hired since becoming the Dolphins’ owner in 2008. Ross first hired Tony Sparano, who took the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2008, but was unable to duplicate the same success again and was fired in ‘12. Then Ross hired Joe Philbin, but he went just 24-28 in his three-plus seasons.
Like Philbin, Gase is an offensive-minded coach. Unlike Philbin, Gase called plays as an offensive coordinator. Gase will have his work cut out for him as the Dolphins finished 6-10 this season and haven’t made the playoffs or finished above .500 since 2008.
The man Gase chooses to be the team’s defensive coordinator could determine how quickly the team can turn things around. If Gase can hire the right person to build a scheme around Ndamukong Suh, the team should improve from its No. 25 ranking in 2015 and that will likely result in more wins.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)