Today’s question: Adam Gase is the second-youngest head coach in the NFL and he took advantage of a last-place schedule to win 10 games in 2016. Is Gase the long-term solution for the Dolphins or is he a one-year wonder?
Mike Rodak, Buffalo Bills reporter: I’ll approach this question from a Bills’ perspective and note that from 2013 through 2015, the Bills went 5-1 against the Dolphins while outscoring them 154-84 and owning a plus-11 turnover margin. Those Doug Marrone/Rex Ryan-coached Bills teams were hardly great, yet they steamrollered Miami nearly every time the teams played. I watched some bad football from Joe Philbin’s teams, which made me more impressed with what Gase did last season, when the Dolphins won both games against Buffalo. The Dolphins had to come from behind to win in both cases, which is a measure of the level of mental toughness a coach instills in his team. Moreover, as an offensive mind, Gase deserves credit for overseeing the best year of Ryan Tannehill‘s career in terms of quarterback rating (93.5). Time will tell if Gase will be able to survive in a Bill Belichick-owned division that chews up other coaches, but I saw sustainable signs of success in Gase’s first season.
Mike Reiss, New England Patriots reporter: A similar question was asked about Jets coach Todd Bowles last year after his team posted a 10-6 record in his first season. Bowles’ initial season was filled with promise, and it showed that he is a capable NFL head coach. Then, in a reminder of how fast things can change, Bowles’ Jets slipped to 5-11 in his second season, and now he is considered by some to be on the hot seat. I point that out to highlight how no one truly knows how these things will turn out, but as it relates to Gase, there is more to suggest that he is the long-term solution than a one-year wonder. It starts with building a winning culture and, from my view in New England, Gase has taken positive steps in doing so. I’m not there every day, but I hear good things. Second, I look at the track record of executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum when it comes to identifying top coaches and it is very good. This obviously extends to his time outside of football when he was representing Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, among others. That is one of Tannenbaum’s strengths.
Rich Cimini, New York Jets reporter: I’m not in the habit of anointing first-time coaches after a good year or two because I’ve seen it go the other way very quickly (Google the Jets’ past three coaches), but everything I’ve seen and heard about Gase indicates he’s more likely to succeed than fail. I was particularly impressed by the way he handled last season’s 1-4 start, which included some player-disciplinary issues. It was an immediate test, and he passed. Observing from afar, it seems as though Gase has established the right culture, and that is priority No. 1 for any new coach. I think the Dolphins are due for a market correction, if you will, because I do believe 2016 was a bit of a mirage. This is a team that finished 24th and 29th in total offense and defense, respectively, so there is work to be done. That will be Gase’s new challenge: Build on last year’s regular-season success.