Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay was texting in the lobby of the Biltmore Hotel at the NFL owner’s meetings in Phoenix last week when Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase suddenly appeared.
“Let’s go,” Gase said, and the two quickly scurried off together to a meeting.
Two of the youngest coaches in the NFL, not surprisingly, attached at the hip.
“You’ve got to learn on the fly a little bit,” Gase said, when asked about advice for McVay.
When Gase took over the Dolphins before last season he was 37 years old, the youngest coach in the NFL. McVay just became the youngest NFL head coach hire ever, at 30.
How is it that Gase, McVay and first-year 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan (37 years old) all know each other?
“There was a group of us that were all about the same age,” Gase recalled. “So we’ve all been when you go the combine and you’re all scouting assistants. You’re kind of hanging out. I’m not trying to downplay the offensive line, but the skill guys would all be sitting in the end zone and it would be Clyde Christensen and a herd of all us guys like in our mid 20’s sitting around him and talking Peyton Manning stories.”
Christensen is Miami’s veteran offensive coordinator. He once coached Peyton Manning with the Colts. Later, Gase would coach Manning with the Broncos.
Gase called the Dolphins’ offensive plays last season. It’s a plan McVay and Shanahan plan to follow in 2017. And Shanahan has picked Gase’s brain as well.
In a break between sessions at the owner’s meetings, Shanahan also seemed very interested in engaging a reporter who has covered Gase about how the young coach dealt with media.
The world of football can be a small one and coincidentally, one of McVay’s mentors is Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father, and the former Broncos and Redskins coach.
While it seemed for a long time that NFL coaching hires were recycled veterans with one or two previous head coaching opportunities, a new wave of Young Guns has emerged.
Consider the current age of the some of the head coaches hired in the last two seasons: McVay (31), Shanahan (37), Gase (39), Ben McAdoo (39), Sean McDermott (43), Vance Joseph (44) and Anthony Lynn (48).
Predictably, much of Gase’s advice to first-year coaches centers around time management.
“You don’t realize how many people are walking in and out of your office,” Gase said. “How many things, until you go through it and have to start managing those types of things. That’s when you start to figure out.”
The history of young NFL coaching hires is mixed.
Lane Kiffin (31/Raiders), Raheem Morris (32/Bucs) David Shula (32/Bengals) and Josh McDaniels (32/Broncos) clearly didn’t work out.
But Al Davis (33/Raiders), Jon Gruden (34/Raiders), Bill Cowher (34/Steelers) and Mike Tomlin (34/Steelers) all had tremendous success.
Of course, many Dolphins fans are hoping Gase can be their next Don Shula.
And when Shula was hired by the Colts in 1963, he was only 33 years old.
One of Gase’s strengths is he doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but seems eager to share some lessons with coaching peers when asked. Internally and externally, Gase makes every attempt to be candid and direct.
“I’m probably not the only one that (Sean McVay) has talked to,” Gase said. “He’s probably combed most of the league trying to figure out what the best way. So the fact that he’s doing that is going to give him a little bit more of an advantage, than a couple of us had last year.”
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