The flow chart connecting Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson, Adam Gase and Peyton Manning is so convoluted, Rube Goldberg’s head would swim.
Let’s try to untangle the web, beginning with the easiest pairing:
Tannehill and Wilson were two of the 11 quarterbacks selected in the 2012 draft. They became relatively close in the months leading up to it; Tannehill and Wilson, quarterbacks for the Dolphins and Seahawks, respectively, trained together at Bradenton’s IMG Academy beforehand.
Wilson said Wednesday of Tannehill: “Ryan is, first of all, a great person, a great quarterback. He’s made a ton of plays and done a great job down in Miami. … Me and him were right there together, training together. It was me, Ryan and Kirk Cousins. Every day, we just pushed each other to be the best that we could be.”
Tannehill said much of the same: “He has had a heck of a career so far. [He has] been to the Super Bowl twice and really played well. [I have] a ton of respect for him and his game.”
OK, time to dig deeper. Next up: Gase and Wilson.
They know each other well. They met as many as three times in early 2012, including in Denver, where Gase was then the quarterbacks coach and where Wilson made his final visit before the draft. Wilson was on the board when the Broncos made each of their first three picks. Instead, they passed each time, taking Brock Osweiler instead. Today, they have neither; Trevor Siemian will start for Denver as it begins its Super Bowl defense Thursday.
Gase’s memory of that time: “I know Russell [was] right in the conversation with a lot of the guys that we were looking at. … I think we were really impressed with his football intelligence. It kind of jumped off with us right away.”
Now, how does Manning fit in? Three ways. First and most obviously, he played three seasons for Gase in Denver, reaching the Super Bowl in 2013. He also has acted as sounding board for Tannehill since Miami hired Gase, meeting with him during multiple visits to Dolphins camp in recent months.
But Manning’s relationship with Wilson stretches back longer than any of them.
Here’s how, in Wilson’s words: “When I went to Denver [to visit] the Broncos, it was an awesome experience because I got to be around Peyton Manning some. Got to talk to him and understand his knowledge of the game. It was funny. I remember Peyton in locker room, and he had just gotten in there not too long ago. We were talking and he said, ‘Don’t I know you from somewhere?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, the funny thing is I actually went to your camp when I was in 10th grade.’ ”
Manning will be the only one of the four missing Sunday, when the Dolphins visit Seattle to open their 51st season.
Wilson, who has appeared in two of the past three Super Bowls, is the most accomplished member of the Class of 2012. Tannehill is looking to simply make the playoffs for the first time. He’ll have no better coach than Gase, who helped produce the best season of Manning’s great career.
Gase trusts Tannehill more at the line of scrimmage than any coach Tannehill has ever had. And his words Wednesday reflected that.
“I think he’s about as good as I personally can ask for, for how fast we had to go on this,” Gase said. “The longer you play in this league, it really slows down for you, but then you start to recognize what the defense is doing. Sometimes by alignment, sometimes by formation and sometimes guys have to read it on the run. He’s obviously been able to do that.”
A postscript, if you haven’t been confused enough by all of these overlapping histories:
The Seahawks and Broncos weren’t the only teams intrigued by Wilson. The Dolphins, led by then-general manager Jeff Ireland, were too.
Here’s how Wilson said that storyline went down:
“I never made a trip to Miami, but they definitely showed interest. When I was at the Senior Bowl, I got to meet … with [Ireland] and a couple of other people on his staff. It was a great meeting. It was one of the things that they seemed highly interested at the time. But it was one of those things. Things work out.”
For everyone but Ireland, that is.