Adam Gase: Onside kick was message to Miami Dolphins, not John Elway, Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph greets Dolphins coach Adam Gase after the game. Joseph was Gase’s defensive coordinator last season. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

DAVIE — There wasn’t a message being sent to the other sideline.

It was a message being sent to his own.

That was Dolphins coach Adam Gase’s explanation Monday for attempting an onside kick with 10 1/2 minutes remaining and a 33-9 lead.

Eyebrows were raised about the Dolphins possibly running up the score against, of all people, Broncos coach Vance Joseph — their defensive coordinator last year who remains friends with so many in Davie, including Gase. Some in Denver wondered if it was a shot at John Elway, who runs the Broncos’ football operations, but Gase said it was not.

“The whole point of that was for our guys to understand that we have to play 60 minutes every week and you have to play that game like it’s 0-0 for 60 minutes,” Gase said. “And that was the biggest point that I wanted to make to our guys, that we’re going to be aggressive the entire time.”

It’s not like this situation has come up often for Gase before. Until Sunday, the biggest blowout by the Dolphins under Gase was a 34-13 victory over the New York Jets on Dec. 17.

Sunday, after the Dolphins took a 33-9 lead on Jay Cutler’s 23-yard pass to Kenny Stills, Cody Parkey was instructed to perform an onside kick.

“I think we were just trying to win the game, honestly,” Parkey said. “Coach tells me what to do and I go ahead and do it. It’s as simple as that.”

The kick was recovered by Alterraun Verner on the Miami 48-yard line, but the Dolphins went three-and-out … yet still managed a score.

Matt Haack’s punt was fumbled by Isaiah McKenzie after a hit by Chase Allen. McKenzie, trying to salvage the play, was then tackled in the end zone by Senorise Perry, accounting for Miami’s second safety of the game, a team first.

Still, the onside kick raised speculation in Denver that Gase was trying to take a shot at Elway after Elway cleaned house after the 2014 season — including letting go of Gase, then offensive coordinator of the Broncos. Cornerback Chris Harris said there “had to be bad blood” to trigger such a decision. NBC analyst Tony Dungy said it wasn’t something he would call in that situation if he were coaching.

“You guys have seen every game we’ve played,” Gase told reporters Monday. “It’s not like we’ve been dominating and we haven’t had big leads.”

In fact, Dolphins players have lamented all season long about their inability to play a 60-minute game. Many thought Sunday was their first such performance.

“That’s the mentality I want our guys to have and that’s why those guys on the other sideline, those offensive players — they know where my mind’s at for an entire game,” said Gase, the Broncos’ offensive coordinator from 2013-14. “They’ve been through it with me before.”

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