When the Miami Dolphins hired Adam Gase as head coach of the Dolphins, they got a young cerebral coach who had more influence on an organization from the start.
Normally, the conventional thought has been for head coaches in the NFL to worry about the 53 man roster or 90 plus in the offseason. Not so with Adam Gase who conveyed his vision and yet fulfilled his first goal: getting the Dolphins winning and making the playoffs.
Said Gase prior to the Dolphins playoff appearance:
“Our guys worked hard to get to this point and gave themselves an opportunity to keep competing… That was our goal when we started this whole process of what we were doing in the spring (Joe Schad-PB Post).”
Gase’s experiences working with the likes of Coach Nick Saban at MSU and LSU rubbed off on him in a positive way as a game manager- more belief in the process and seldom shows panic even when the Dolphins hit a mighty skid starting 1-4 winnning seven in a row.
Gase earlier during this 1-4 start showed he wasn’t afraid to rock the boat and jettison starting o-linemen Billy Miller and Dallas Thomas, big draft busts from the previous regime.
When it came to approaching free agency last season, Gase with the collective and collaborative brain trust of Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier as the new GM, unearthed two players from the Eagles: LB Kiko Alonso and CB Byron Maxwell by swapping draft picks in the first round.
Both Alonso and Maxwell proved to be a big part of the success in 2016 and should be in years to come.
Alonso should be rewarded for his achievements as a leader of the Miami defense.
For Maxwell, his benching for poor play proved the lighting of fire he needed to be a better corner and live up to the hype prior to his Philly days, as a Seahawk and Super Bowl Champ.
In addition, on draft day, the Dolphins landed landed left tackle Laremy Tunsil after he fell in the draft due to some questions about his off the field activities. Tunsil played a huge role in one learning to be a pro and started 16 of 17 games at left guard, a position the Dolphins sorely needed some shoring up.
Tunsil fueled the Dolphins newfound running game and traversed the Dolphins to new heights with running back Jay Ajayi.
Again, the power of influence as a result of a forward- thinking Adam Gase.
This offseason, the Dolphins have continued their evaluation of areas of opportunity.
Last week it seemed that left tackle Branden Albert was going to be released as a cap casualty. That is until, a potential for a trade was announced last minute with the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that needed a left tackle.
Albert seemingly was ready to give way to his star pupil who has been groomed to be the Dolphins starting left tackle.
Again, the vision of Adam Gase and power of influence came into play and he turned a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars into a swap of 7th round picks and seldom healthy tight end Julius Thomas.
Thomas, whom was with Gase in Denver enjoyed two of his best seasons as a pro and earned his next contract with the Jaguars which didn’t go as planned.
Unofficially, this trade (cannot be announced until March 9th) will go down as a serious “get” for the Dolphins.
Gase now gains a player in Thomas who provides a serious red zone threat and seam threat, thus stretching the field for his offense.
Should the Dolphins not have the cap room to bring back their deep threat receiver Kenny Stills, getting Thomas could allow Gase some flexibility to run his two tight end sets to either run or pass. More importantly Thomas brings another pass catcher for Ryan Tannehill who didn’t have a great option at tight end and improvised throughout the course of the season after the loss of Jordan Cameron.
As the start of free agency nears, one would expect the Dolphins to work on signing receiver Kenny Stills because of Adam Gase and his development of Stills as the focal point of the offense. In fact Stills didn’t miss a beat even after Tannehill went down with an injury and was in lock step with quarterback Matt Moore.
Let’s not forget, Stills had a phenomenal year because Gase found a way to make him a more successful receiver and in turn a big part of the Dolphins playoff season.
For the Dolphins to continue their success they need to allocate the right people at the right positions defensively.
Year two is equally hard to sustain a playoff run, but those are the demons worth fighting.