Adam Gase gets it. He knows that coaching is as much about stroking egos as it is about X’s and O’s.
His predecessor, all too often, did not. Joe Philbin didn’t even like to lobby for his players to get into the Pro Bowl because he didn’t like elevating anyone above the team.
Not surprisingly, he struggled to connect with his players.
Gase, a month into his first NFL head coaching job, appears determined not to repeat that mistake.
“The only thing I can do right now is talk to them, and I just let them know what I’m about and what I’m looking for and basically I give those guys a chance to tell me what they’re about,” Gase said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“Anytime that I talk to a guy, it’s usually not too long. You try to call everybody on the roster, try to get a hold of everybody, introduce yourself just so they know, when we start this thing, this is what I’m expecting as far as the attitude walking in the building, and I feel like the guys have been receptive.”
Gase believes he has gotten to everyone on the roster.
And he’s made it a point to connect with his highest-paid player. Ndamukong Suh was never close with Philbin; Gase has already had multiple meetings with the sometimes-prickly star.
“I think Suh’s in a good place right now,” Gase said during a news conference in front of the national media. “He’s stopped by quite a few times; we’ve had some good discussions. Just talking in general terms, he’s been around the building quite a bit working out on his own.”
Gase added: “We’ve had some great conversations, and we’ll see how this thing goes moving forward.”
Connecting with Suh might only be second on Gase’s to-do list to fixing Ryan Tannehill. The last regime had an at-times icy relationship with Miami’s starting quarterback. Again, Gase is trying to be better.
Allowing Tannehill to audible, which former offensive coordinator Bill Lazor forbade, is certainly a good start.
“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,” Gase said. “Earlier it’s probably not going to be as much as it will be later.”
Gase drew a crowd of reporters Wednesday from both Denver and Chicago, his previous two stops.
Naturally, many of the questions were about his work with quarterbacks. In the past five years, he’s maximized Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler.
Now he is tasked with doing the same with Tannehill.
“He has the skill set that you’re looking for,” Gase said.
“Really, it’s going to be about, how do things go starting in the spring? How does he feel? What do we have to do to adjust to help him? It’s not as easy to talk about right now. It’s gotta be more of seeing him, how does he do things? What’s his process? It’s going to take some time.”
Gase added: “It’s not going to be like all of a sudden in two weeks we’re going to be like, all right, I got it. It’s going to take the entire spring. It’s going to take training camp. It’s going to take regular-season games. This is not going to be one of those things where I’m going to have a great feel for him right away. We’re going to have to go through a little bit of a process. There’s going to be bumps in the road, but that’s football.”
Other takeaways from Gase’s time in front of cameras Wednesday:
▪ Tight end Jordan Cameron, who is due $7.5 million in 2016, might not be a cap casualty after all. Gase said Cameron is “a great fit” in his offense.
▪ While Gase has final say of the 53-man roster, he is “kind of taking a little bit of a back seat” to Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier when it comes to personnel.
▪ Running back Lamar Miller, who is due to hit free agency on March 9, “is an explosive player that can do all three phases — pass protection, he’s a good receiver and he can run the ball,” Gase said. The Dolphins are working to re-sign Miller.