ORLANDO — Part one of a two-part look at Dolphins offensive issues through the eyes of Adam Gase, who spoke for an hour at the NFL owner’s meetings Tuesday:
▪ Gase loves his new receivers, Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola.
Of Wilson, Gase said: “His speed is hard to ignore — we saw firsthand how fast he is, how he can stretch the field vertically. When you put the ball in his hands, he makes plays. I don’t think I’ve seen too many wide receivers where the team is actually handing the ball to him and he’s running between the tackles. He has toughness. He has vision. He has the ability to do a lot of different things, which is very intriguing to us. We feel like we have a lot of things we can with him.”
As for Amendola, Gase said: “Danny fits into this system really well. Danny does a lot of things. He creates a lot of separation. He is one of those guys that makes the quarterback’s job really easy. He doesn’t just get a little open. There is a big window there. The quarterback has a large margin for error. He’s a winner, played in a lot of big games, won Super Bowls, made plays in huge games, game–changing plays. He’s going to a great example for the rest of our locker room. He can be a huge impact in our locker room.”
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Gase likened Amendola’s signing to when Denver added Wes Welker when Gase was a coach there.
“I remember when we signed Wes in Denver, one of the big things that he did was when our young guys saw Wes in practice, they were shocked,” Gase said.
“They couldn’t believe how hard he went, how fast he did everything. There was no half speed. No take any play off. He was full speed all the time. We had a lot of young receivers that… hadn’t quite saw it through the eyes of a professional. Wes came in and changed our culture and environment. He was part of the reason we had a big swing there. Danny has a lot of the same personality traits. Ryan [Tannehill] will benefit a lot from being around a guy like that.”
As I reported two weeks ago, the Dolphins are changing their approach with targets and plan to spread the ball around more now that Jarvis Landry has been traded to Cleveland.
“I’m looking at that as more of a group effort,” Gase said. “We’re going to spread it out a little more — ball distribution will be a little more wide range than one guy. We will have guys moving around to multiple spots. Between DeVante [Parker], Kenny [Stills] — those two and you add Jakeem [Grant] in there, you add [Kenyan] Drake in there, I got Frank Gore, we got a lot of guys we’re going to need to get the ball to.
“I’ve always been a big fan of having as many different guys as you can. We’ve got a lot of variety [at wide receiver]. We got a lot of speed, got different sizes. We just need to keep guys healthy.”
▪ Gase did not say this, but even though the Dolphins brought in DeMarco Murray first, my understanding is Gore was always the preference.
Gase and Gore were together 10 years ago with the 49ers, and Gase believes Gore’s value will be two fold: on the field and off.
On the field, Gase said, “I wouldn’t doubt Frank with anything. I know a lot of people at his age but with him it’s irrelevant. He’s a different dude. I’ve known him 10 years. We were together a long time ago. He just hasn’t changed. You watch him run, The physicality he runs with. The pad level. The way he’s able to drive defenders when they’re hanging on him and carry them still.”
And Gase said off the field, “he’s a good fit for us. He’s a great guy for us to have in that locker room. He’s a great guy for Drake to see work day in and day out, to see them work together that’s going to be a fun thing to watch.”
In fact, in explaining why the Dolphins moved on from Damien Williams, who signed with Kansas City: Gase said: “They were thinking more than what we were really at. By the time that circled back around, we were kind of moving on and I was looking for what we ended up getting with Frank. I wanted that veteran guy who had a lot of experience and could help Drake take his game to the next level.”
Gase said he envisions the Drake/Gore pairing, in terms of potential usage, as “no different than what we were doing with Drake and Damien last year. We kind of got caught in a couple situations last year where Kenyan was the only guy we had. He had to take the majority of the carries and that’s not what we want over a 16-game season. We will make sure we spread this thing out well and use those guys the right way.”
Though Drake impressed the Dolphins after the Jay Ajayi trade, Gase would like more “consistency” from Drake.
“It’s always processing the information at a high rate,” Gase said of Drake. “When things change, being able to be like, ‘that’s happening. I’ve got to do this’ That’s really that next level, that next step. I really think that’s his biggest thing. There were a couple times last year, we make a change and he kind of freezes for a second and he’s a tick late. That’s time, experience. We’re going to see a big jump there.”
Miami had the fewest rushing attempts in the NFL last season, in large part because it trailed so often. Gase wants that to change.
“We will be more balanced this year. I have no doubt about that. We got behind way too much. We had to throw it. The only games we were up were New England and Denver. That’s it. We’ve got to a better job of getting ahead. We got behind way too much last year.”
In explaining why the team got off to a slow start the past two seasons, Gase said: “First year was more on me trying to figure it out. I don’t know why but it was very difficult for me to figure out how to call plays for Ryan. I struggled, just couldn’t get in a good feel. Once that Pittsburgh game hit, it became a different feel for me.
“The next year, it was a lot tougher than what any of us anticipated with losing Ryan, bringing Jay [Cutler] in. A lot of things that we had been working on we weren’t doing any more. It’s like we were starting over in front of everybody. It was tough for us to go through that first half of the season.”
Here’s part two of my two-part Tuesday morning Dolphins offensive series, including Gase explaining why Miami needs to get “lucky” with DeVante Parker, plus news on Laremy Tunsil, Ja’Wuan James, the tight end situation, Gase’s thoughts on keeping a third quarterback and why he wanted Brock Osweiler.