“I’m ready to jump on a grenade for that guy if I have to.”
Adam Gase has told his assistants coaches that nothing, and he does mean nothing, is going to come between him and quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He’s made the point to them that he has confidence in Tannehill, even if some in the media don’t. He’s made the point he’s committed to Tannehill, even if fans aren’t.
So, as the Dolphins open their 51st training camp and first under Gase on Friday morning, there is one clear message that you had better read loud and clear:
Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill are tight.
They are tied to each other professionally. They are in synch mentally. And if you aren’t convinced the rookie head coach and fifth-year quarterback are the future of this franchise, then you are the enemy.
Gase has already proven he doesn’t mind taking on opposition from wherever it will come — from within the Dolphins organization or from outside.
When Gase took over the job in January, you’ll recall, Tannehill was under siege in the form of public criticism from the wife of cornerback Brent Grimes. Miko Grimes was no Tannehill fan and didn’t mind sharing her thoughts with anyone who would listen.
“We’re not having that,” Gase said then.
Grimes was cut weeks later.
During the offseason, as time has allowed Gase to catch up on the history of how Tannehill has played, how the media has covered it, how the former coaching staff managed the quarterback, he has come to question how things could have gotten so, so sideways.
Gase has studied the tape of every Tannehill throw. He read articles about Tannehill. He spoke to people about what happened between Tannehill and his former coaches.
Gase even spent time talking to other NFL players about Tannehill. One player he asked was Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who played against Tannehill in 2012.
And out of that thorough investigation, Gase has come away convinced he and Tannehill are going to make a good team. He’s come away convinced Tannehill is already a good quarterback.
Gase has come away convinced Tannehill is capable of taking significant steps in his journey toward becoming a very good NFL quarterback.
All this, by the way, in an environment filled with doubt about Tannehill.
This week even, when the Los Angeles Rams (sorry St. Louis, but it is cool to be able to write that) cut quarterback Nick Foles, a contingent of Dolphins fans made the case that their team should sign the free agent to replace Tannehill.
They made that case mostly in my email inbox, on my Miami Herald blog and in my social media feed. Those fans should know a head coach trying to show his commitment to his starting quarterback would be begging controversy by signing someone who could be perceived as a replacement.
This year is Ryan Tannehill’s year with Adam Gase. Tannehill is the starter. He’s the guy.
If there is any moment during the 2016 season when Tannehill is healthy and not starting, then you’ll know that something seismic happened to crack the concrete foundation Gase has been laying with his quarterback for months.
How solid is that foundation right now?
Gase actually gets agitated when he reads criticism of Tannehill. In a news conference Tuesday, he took a verbal jab at a reporter known for being anti-Tannehill when that reporter asked a question about Tannehill.
(For the sake of transparency, it wasn’t me. But Gase did take a swipe at me for my 2015 criticisms of Bill Lazor bubble screens as an offensive staple. He says I should think of them as 4-yard runs that have potential to be breakout plays.)
The point is Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill are today of the same mind. They are so aligned that it’ll be a wonder if they cast different shadows during practice.
And that is filtering down through the rest of the coaching staff.
When Peyton Manning visited the Dolphins’ facility on two occasions in the offseason, he and Tannehill talked football both times.
Manning made suggestions. Manning told Tannehill how he would handle the Gase offense that helped him (Manning) throw 55 TD passes in 2013.
Well, because it is Tannehill, the Dolphins’ coaching staff is considering all the possibilities. So there was internal discussion about whether it was good to have perhaps too many voices in Tannehill’s head.
Gase dismissed that talk, but it is illustrative of how focused this team is about covering every angle to make sure Tannehill is comfortable. To make sure Tannehill is supported. To make sure Tannehill succeeds.
That way, no one has to jump on any metaphorical grenades.