ORLANDO — This was near the end of an hour-long breakfast and interview session at a posh resort where the NFL owners’ meetings were being held.
Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase had been asked about every player on his team (Danny Amendola came up about four times as the Patriots’ media was conveniently located at a nearby table).
Gase had been asked about every player from towering Brock Osweiler to tiny Albert Wilson.
Gase had been asked about kickers and backup defensive tackles and safety depth and frankly, it was a wonderful opportunity to hear his perspective on every aspect of the roster.
But aside from wondering how Gase envisions replacing Jarvis Landry’s catches and Ndamukong Suh’s tackles, the most interesting thing Gase spoke about was what he thinks will be different in 2018.
And Gase did not shy away from his belief that the leadership/chemistry/energy in that locker room will be different.
“I’m not hoping,” Gase said. “I know it’s going to be different. So I mean, we’ve got different animals. You’ve got some Alpha Dogs running in there. You’ve got some guys that are going to go in there and they’re not going to accept a lot of the bull—- that’s gone on in the past. So, we’ve got the right guys for what we’ve been looking for.”
Gone since Gase led the Dolphins to the playoffs are Pro Bowl players Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry and Ndamukong Suh, the latter two in a post-season trade and release.
In are veterans like Danny Amendola, Josh Sitton and Frank Gore.
Gase likes that they have experienced winning. Gase believes they can show players how to work.
It wasn’t until about 40 minutes into the breakfast that the uber-talented DeVante Parker, for example, came up. Everyone knows what Parker can do. When healthy. When focused. When prepared.
But these offseason moves weren’t just about adding more talent. It was about adding the right kinds of players for Gase.
A year ago, Gase’s message at the NFL owner’s meetings was simple. Pay no attention to our first-season success. We are 0-0. Last year does not matter. It’s a new season. A new year.
This year, Gase’s message is — there is no way that for a second consecutive season, a hurricane will hit, a player will go AWOL, a quarterback will be lost for the season and a coach will be let go for sniffing a white powdery substance on video.
His message, frankly is sort of the same. Last year doesn’t mean squat now.
“We have so many different guys now,” Gase said. “I don’t think anyone really cares what happened last year. There is a different feel. A lot of different bodies. A lot of different guys. But that’s what happens. You have a 6-10 season, you’re going to have a lot of changeover. That’s just part of it. Whether is be the coaching staff, the locker room. Staff around the building. We’ve made a lot of changes. And that’s what happens.”
It’s hard to say Miami has more talent now than it did at the end of last season.
But Gase wasn’t afraid to say he thinks they’re a better team.
“I’m always going to think that way,” Gase said. “Especially when you have a guy you have a lot of confidence in. You lose him (Tannehill) and now he’s back. We went a long time without him. I know there are a lot of guys in that locker room that feel the same way. If I had to hear, ‘We get 17 back’ one more time at the end of the year, that said a lot to me that I wasn’t the only one thinking that.”
Gase may end up endorsing the drafting of a quarterback in the first or second round of the upcoming NFL Draft. But in no way does that mean he does not believe Tannehill will have a big impact on the team’s overall win-loss record this season.
Gase believes Tannehill, having watched the offense for an entire season, will process things even faster, and be even better.
Gase believes his offensive line can be better, and his offense can be more diverse.
But most importantly, and this is the most important thing I digested Tuesday morning, was the notion that Gase believes the Dolphins added more leadership than it lost.
Gase clearly believes that if and when things go bad in 2018 (surely something will happen) he has more guys better equipped to handle adversity.
As Gase explained, there is no handbook that tells a coach what to do with the litany of challenges that came his way in 2018. But when he thinks about having a veteran like Gore in his corner, he feels a little better about his chances.
“I think you’ve just got to feel it,” Gase said about a different energy he senses in the building in Davie. “I think you guys will notice it kind of when we get going. And you guys get around. There is something about a lot of these guys that we brought in. Just seeing Frank Gore, I mean that gets me going It’s been 10 years since we were together. It seems like forever. The guy looks exactly the same. Just everything about him. I’m excited to see what he can do to help us. And we’ve got Danny (Amendola). And Albert (Wilson) and Josh (Sitton). These guys were excited to be here. They wanted to be here. This was their decision to do it.”
Will Miami be better in 2018? Hard to say.
But after an hour with Gase on Tuesday, one thing seems clear: he likes this group better.