OFFENSIVE GURU? QUARTERBACK WHISPERER? MAYBE NOT
The book on Adam Gase when he was hired was that he was a highly coveted young offensive guru. He had been the man working with Peyton Manning in Denver, and under his guidance Jay Cutler had his best season as a Chicago Bear quarterback. The reputation was supported by other coaches and NFL front offices who know way more about football than I do. Right? But as the team moves into year three of the Adam Gase era there is a growing unrest in Dolphin Nation that perhaps the Quarterback Whisperer may be a false profit. The Miami Dolphins offense, particularly the play calling, has been vanilla and ineffective. In fact, if you take out Jay Ajayi's monster season in 2016 it leaves you wondering if this offense is any better at all. What is happening on the field simply does not match up with what fans were lead to believe they were getting when Coach Gase was hired. There really is little difference between his results, and the results of Joe Philbin, and the results of Cam Cameron. In fact, despite changing all the players and the coaches out many times over, the Miami Dolphins look, talk, and play like exactly the same team for the past 20 years. How is that even possible? But I digress. Back to Coach Gase.
Adam Gase's biggest accomplishment prior to joining the Miami Dolphins was being the quarterback coach for Peyton Manning. Isn't that a little like being workout coach for Arnold Schwarzenegger? It is a little bit of a "gimme". After that he was Chicago's Offensive Coordinator for one year. And in that year Jay Cutler went from sucking to being decent. So we hired him as Head Coach. "The Man" to run all football operations, even though he only had one year of coordinator experience. In his first year, he did manage to repeat his Chicago success and was able to elevate Ryan Tannehill from "meh" to decent before Tannehill was inured. So is there something there? I don't know. It all seems a little underwhelming for a guy many feel was one of the great young offensive minds in the league. And it is not just the losing, it is how the team plays. It seems to this writer that the area that has fans expressing the most concern is the play calling. How many times will we see a bubble screen to the wide receiver in one game? And it rarely works out. How many three yard passes a game? Where is the use of the tight end? Where is the up tempo offense we have been hearing about for two years? How may third down plays are going to be run three yards short of the markers and then to no surprise we end up being the worst third down team in the league.And there is more. Missed blocks. Missed assignments. Players seem confused. And then there are the penalties. For years the Miami Dolphins were the least penalized team in the league. Now we are one of the most. This smacks of a lack of discipline and accountability. And the penalties make those third downs longer. It is one thing to be a players coach, but players have to do their jobs and be held accountable when they don't.
2018 will be the most important year for Adam Gase as the Dolphins head man. He made big moves to get rid of the team's top talent in the name of culture and to get commitment to his system and way of doing things. And this year the talent on offense is better with more depth and speed at wide receiver. Depth and veteran leadership at running back with Frank Gore. A huge talent at tight end with Mike Gesicki. And for the first time in years, the offensive line is solid. Ryan Tannehill comes back and may pick up where he left off in 2016. But is also under the microscope. After seven years the Dolphins fans are willing to give him one more year, but that is it. If he does not elevate his game in 2018 the outcry from Dolphin Nation will be loud and large.
Many of the "experts" have the Miami Dolphins finishing at the bottom of the division. Some say no more than six wins. That won't fly with the Miami Dolphin fans who are just flat tired of looking up at the Patriots for what seems like an eternity. This is the year the Adam Gase plan has to mature. It has to start coming together now. The promise of dynamic playoff caliber offense has to be fulfilled. If not the Miami Dolphins could be looking for a new Head Coach and a new quarterback in 2019. And Miami Dolphin fans will be left wondering when things will ever get better.