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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Adam Gase, Negatives, Positives and Bottom Line!

Couple of years ago I was on the phone with my son Mike, a big Jets fan and he asked me if I saw any Miami Dolphin games. In particular their running back Jay Ajayi. I told him I haven’t but will watch him. Well watching this player in 2016 was ridiculous. He only started 12 games, rushed for 1,272 yards, scoring 8 TDs with a rushing average of 4.9 yards per carry. I thought we were all on the verge of seeing another Jim Brown. One year later Jay Ajayi was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 4th round pick. I couldn’t believe it and thought that Miami Dolphin coach Adam Gase was out of his mind only getting a 4th rounder for him. Two years and two months after that trade, Adam Gase gets named to be the head coach of the New York Jets. In the last 36 hours there has been a ton written and said (especially on talk radio) about this second year head coach from Ypsilanti Michigan. Who really knows what is fact and what is fiction about Adam Gase? The common denominator is that everyone says Gase knows football. But can he convey his knowledge to his players? Remember that the Adam Gase lovers will perpetuate only the good things. The Adam Gase haters will bring up every negative thing he has done since birth. The Jets have a coach. Let’s see some of the positives and negatives of Adam Gase.

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The flavor of the month right now in the NFL is to find the next Sean McVay, the brilliant 32 year old coach of the Los Angeles Rams. The popular thinking right now is to get that young innovative offensive genius in this offensive weighted league. The Arizona Cardinals just hired Kliff Kingsbury as their head coach who they think fits that job description. Going back three years (January 16, 2016) at the time when the Miami Dolphins named Adam Gase, 37, their head coach, they'd thought they found their Sean McVay before there was a Sean McVay. Gase’s Dolphins started the season 1-4 and went on a six game winning streak and finished the season 10-6 making the playoffs. Since that season, he has gone 13-19 with things falling apart on the field and if you believe some, in the locker room. Let’s look at some of the facts that you may not like about the new Jet head coach. Starting with this season he had that classic game against the Patriots beating them on the last play of the game 34-33. At that time their record was 7-6 and many thought they might build off that emotional win and gain momentum with a chance to make the playoffs. No such luck. The Dolphins lost their last three games: Vikings 41-7, Jaguars 17-7 and the Bills 41-17. Are great NFL coaches suppose to let their team fold like a cheap camera in those “must win” games? This is very bothersome to me. When he was let go, former Dolphins players Jarvis Landry and Jordan Phillips had some unflattering tweets about Gase and seemed to be celebrating his demise. This brings us to how Adam Gase leads and gets along with his players. When players knock a coach the media loves it, whether it is true or not. But reliable people have said that Gase has got to do a better job communicating with people. It is said if he sends in a play he designed and it fails, he carries it with him and loses focus on the “now” cursing and wondering why that play did not work. As far as being an offensive wonder, the Dolphins ranking on the offensive side of the ball was nothing to brag about. In total yards they ranked 24th in 2016, 25th in 2017 and 31st in 2018. In scoring offense they were 17th, 28th and 26th, respectively. And when you look at his 23-25 lifetime Dolphin record, it is less impressive knowing that 5 of those wins came against Todd Bowles’ Jets.

A lot has been said about Gase and his relationship with Peyton Manning. People point to the 2013 season when Manning was on the Denver Broncos and Adam Gase was their offensive coordinator. That year if you remember Manning threw for 5,477 yards and 55 TDs. For whatever reason I’ve heard people giving credit to Adam Gase for that accomplishment. To me that’s ridiculous. It is like giving credit to Miller Huggins for Babe Ruth hitting 60 home runs in 1927. Peyton Manning had already evolved to the quarterback he was by the time he got to the Denver Broncos. Another disturbing fact is that if Adam Gase was thought of so highly by the Denver Broncos organization, then why didn’t John Elway interview him for the head coaching job this week before giving it to Vic Fangio? Not even an interview from the team he was involved in from 2009-2014! Hummmm! Does John Elway know something Christopher Johnson and Mike Maccagnan don’t know? With regard to this it seems that Gase was upset that Elway didn’t give him an interview when the Broncos hired Gary Kubiak so there is friction there. Gase pulled a Doug Marrone going for a useless onside kick in the 4th quarter of a game when the Dolphins were killing the Broncos. I’m not a fan of things like that!

Adam Gase was suppose to develop Dolphin QB Ryan Tannehill which he did not do. In all fairness to Gase, Tannehill has had the injury bug but the bottom line is he failed at one of the things the Jets are bringing him in to do, develop Sam Darnold. When first time coaches go from one head coaching job immediately to another a la Herm Edwards (Jets, Chiefs), Eric Mangini (Jets, Browns) and Rex Ryan (Jets, Bills), the success rate is not good. Every experienced coach has some kind of baggage and has had their bad in-game decisions. Whether there are too many negatives that will bring Adam Gase down, only time will tell.

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Yes he has some negative things going against him but isn’t that because he has been coaching so long? When Joe Torre was hired by the New York Yankees, the Daily News ran the headline “Clueless Joe.” It was in reference to his failings as a manager with the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, and St. Louis Cardinals. Needless to say he went on to become a great manager for the Yankees. In football we all hear the same stories ad nauseam about coaches who failed their first time and then succeeded like Bill Belichick (Browns, Patriots) and Mike Shanahan (Raiders, Broncos). Does Adam Gase have a chance to follow in the footsteps of these coaches? The answer is yes! Ideally I would have liked to see him take a year off or be the offensive coordinator of a team for two years. A coach can do a lot of self evaluating and be humbled. The way he nabbed the Jets job within two weeks of his firing is not a formula for guaranteed failure but I prefer the jobs spaced apart. He has a shot and a good shot with a young quarterback with all the potential in the world. And with the cap space available if the General Manager shops carefully to get the right players, Adam Gase is actually in a great position to succeed. Adam Gase has an incredible NFL coaching resume. Five years with the Detroit Lions, one year with the San Francisco 49ers, six years with the Denver Broncos, one year with the Chicago Bears and three with the Miami Dolphins. He has worked under these coaches: Nick Saban, LSU Tigers (2000–2002),Steve Mariucci, Rod Marinelli, Mike Nolan, Josh McDaniels and John Fox. He had the impossible task of trying to make Tim Tebow into an NFL quarterback as his QB coach and actually won a playoff game with him. Gase spent one year as the Bears’ offensive coordinator in 2015, where he helped Jay Cutler slice his interception total from 18 the year before down to 11. As far as this year with the Dolphins, yes injuries are part of the game but the Dolphins lost 13 key players to season-ending injuries, including two top offensive linemen, their best run stopper, top cornerback Xavien Howard and receivers Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill missed five games. 

Here is a stat that I love. Gase went 7-1 this season in one-score games, and 20-6 in three seasons. This guy knows how to manage the clock and his timeouts. No more Todd Bowles type of guess work the last two minutes of the second and fourth quarters. 

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Bottom Line
Adam Gase is a football gym rat. He eats, sleeps and drinks football. He came to the Jets from another job but I think the Jets may have lucked out. He has got to work on his communication and leadership skills with his players and with the New York media. As far as potential free agents coming here, that may be the best report card on how other NFL players feel about Adam Gase. I love his attentiveness in close games. With that said, nothing less than 9 wins next year is acceptable to me. I don’t want to hear about injuries, bad calls or lack of execution. If the Jets are 8-8 or less without a playoff birth, Mike Maccagnan has got to go. And that is non-negotiable! I remember an old Bill Parcells quote when somebody asked him if he was ready when he first got the Giant job and his response was: “No one is really ever ready for their first head coaching job in the NFL.”

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Green Tidbits
…..CBS Sports reporting Gase is speaking to Gregg Williams, Vance Joseph and Chuck Pagano for  the defensive coordinator job…..According to Manish Mehta of the Daily News the Jets flirted with Baylor head coach Matt Rhule before things fell apart due to discrepancies over how best to assemble his staff, according to sources…..Adam Gase and Sam Darnold both share the same agent, Jimmy Sexton…..Adam Gase was born on March 29, 1978 and is a graduate of Michigan State University…..Legendary quarterback Peyton Manning called Jets CEO Christopher Johnson on Tuesday night to recommend Gase for the team’s head-coaching opening. A day later, the Jets hired him…..Packers brass interviewed players asking what they wanted in their new head coach. Answer from most, "player accountability." Sound familiar?.....Gase is married to Jennifer, the daughter of former New Orleans Saints linebackers coach Joe Vitt….Will Gase have the guts to bench DB Trumaine Johnson if Derrick Jones is practicing and playing better…..

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