The thing about this Adam Gase is, he relates to everyone.
I’ve seen the Miami Dolphins coach relate to a free-thinking Arian Foster, a free-spirited Damien Williams, an introspective Kenny Stills, a frustrated Mario Williams and a bad-tempered Ndamukong Suh.
All in the same practice.
I’ve seen Gase treat the media and the people he works with with respect.
I’ve seen how Gase publicly professes he will not lie to players (and does not seem to lie in press conferences, either) and then hear the players back that up.
I’ve seen players Gase has benched say it was clearly and honestly explained and that they agreed with his assessments.
I’ve seen Gase provide tough love, but in a way that leaves players understanding he only wants the best for them, and, in turn, the team.
And now, on the eve of free agency, I’ve seen the impact Gase can have on free agency.
I’ve seen how players want to stay in Miami. And perhaps now more will want to come to Miami.
And not just for the sunshine and the lack of state income tax (not that those are bad things.)
I’ve seen wide receiver Kenny Stills and defensive end Andre Branch agree to stay in Miami before even the official start of free agency on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.
I’ve heard Gase say “Kenny and myself have a close relationship” and how tumultuous that made the free agency process for him.
And I believe it.
I believe it because on Wednesday night, after he put pen to paper, Stills echoed the sentiment.
“Our relationship is unique because of him,” Stills told me of Gase. “He allows that with this team and with the guys on this team. I feel like that’s a part of this building being special. He really, genuinely cares about us and is looking out for us and wants what’s in our best interests.”
There is a moment I specifically recall leading into the season-opener at Seattle. In a practice at Husky Stadium, I took note of how Gase was on one knee, in front of Stills, just chatting with his wide receiver, taking a moment to connect.
Stills dropped a sure touchdown pass that game, and could not help but be emotional after it. Gase assured Stills there would be more chances, and more touchdowns, and he was right.
After all, Miami re-signed a young man (24 years old) who led the team with nine touchdown catches. And he slowly built the trust of Gase and quarterback Ryan Tannehill as the season progressed.
We’ll never know exactly how much Stills could have earned from Philadelphia, San Francisco or Los Angeles. But despite having grown up on the West Coast, his heart was in South Florida.
We know Gase’s presence as head coach played a role in Still’s decision to return. And these players don’t just feel Gase is a solid X’s and O’s play-caller (which he is) or play-designer (which he is).
They believe he cares about them as people. And that goes a long way in a locker room. Even an NFL locker room, where it’s all supposedly business, all the time.
People remember how you make them feel.
“We’re fortunate to live in Miami,” Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said last week. “Now we have a little bit of buzz. We have a head coach that a lot of players around the league like and have heard about.”
Miami’s defensive end, Branch, recently took part in a Miami Dolphins Business Combine, a full week of learning opportunities in New York enabled by owner Stephen Ross. It was not only a good gesture toward his players, and a bonding opportunity for 16 players, but a clear signal to all the NFL that the Dolphins are an organization that plans to take care of their players.
Miami cited an off-season goal to take care of their own players. And before even the official start of free agency, they locked up their most important offensive and most important defensive free agents.
They backed up their words.
In a way it seems Gase does, too.
Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.