Deeper look into hiring process shows Gase’s approach toward QBs is key

Adam Gase maximized the limited skills of Tim Tebow. He matched wits with Peyton Manning and got Jay Cutler to quit taking so many unnecessary risks.

And that approach toward coaching quarterbacks with disparate talents went a long way toward landing him the head coaching job of the Miami Dolphins.

In Jenny Vrentas’ revealing piece for Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback, she explains what goes on behind closed doors when NFL teams are hiring head coaches. Since the Dolphins have had five  in the past 11 seasons excluding interim coaches, they’ve had ample opportunity to perfect that process, although many would argue that the fact they’ve gone through so many proves there’s work to be done.

Adam Gase, on his advice for candidates seeking a head coaching job: 'Be yourself. That’s the most important thing I have learned.' (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Adam Gase, on his advice for candidates seeking a head coaching job: ‘Be yourself. That’s the most important thing I have learned.’ (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Vrentas explains that teams typically block out three hours to interview candidates, but those talks typically run long. Miami’s interview with Gase was the interview equivalent of the 1971 Christmas Day playoff against Kansas City: Dolphins executives talked with him for a remarkable eight hours.

Since Gase made his mark as a quarterback guru, it’s natural the Dolphins asked him about how he would help Ryan Tannehill fulfill his potential.

Vrentas writes that Gase “won over the Dolphins by explaining his philosophy that coaching a quarterback can’t be a one-size-fits all, backed by his experience blending different offensive systems and styles to best suit the spectrum of QBs he’s coached: Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler and now Ryan Tannehill.”

Gase, like the other Miami candidates, was subjected to a three-hour evaluation with an industrial psychologist to test his leadership capabilities. This aspect of the hiring process may have been more critical for Gase than the other coaches because he’s only 37 and the Dolphins wanted to be assured “he had the maturity level,” owner Stephen Ross said.

Clearly, the Dolphins believe he does, because they made him the youngest head coach in the league.

Vrentas writes that the process can be so detailed around the league that candidates have talked themselves out of jobs because owners don’t like the coach’s third option for a coordinator. Candidates typically compile a “leave-behind packet” trumpeting their qualifications that is so time consuming they compile them in the off-season.

It’s safe to assume Gase impressed the Dolphins in this department. Ross called him “exceptionally intelligent,” telling reporters, “You guys could do all your homework. You’ll be talking to people and there’s one thing that’s a common theme: He’s one of the hardest-working, smartest guys in this business. Those are great things.”

And, in fact, Bill Dryer, who helped coach Gase in high school in Michigan, said, “I don’t think anybody will question his work ethic. The guys is off the charts in preparation.”

Confidence also helps. Gase interviewed with nine teams over the past two years and said his approach evolved.

“Be yourself. That’s the most important thing I have learned, especially this time around,” Gase told Vrentas. “Last time, mostly, I was a little nervous going into the process. And if you are nervous, you can’t truly be yourself. This time I felt a lot more comfortable. I could articulate exactly how I felt about so many situations. My passion and my energy came out. I really feel like, this year, teams saw who I really am. So what I would say to guys out there, just go in there and be yourself every minute you are in the room with them.”

Mike Tannenbaum, the Dolphins’ executive vice president of football operations, said the organization made more than 237 phone calls while researching candidates and spent more than 42 hours in interviews alone.

Gase will be the first to say plenty of work lies ahead.

The Dolphins know plenty of work went into bringing him to Miami in the first place.

“I know that was a long process for them, very thorough, one of the longer processes that I went through with a group,” Gase said. “It seems like I’ve gone through quite a few the last few years and this one was very thorough.

What they’re saying about new Dolphins coach Adam Gase

Adam Gase. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Adam Gase. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 1.35.00 PM

Peyton Manning, via

“I’m very happy for Adam. Adam had a great impact on me during our three years together here in Denver as my quarterbacks coach and then as offensive coordinator. He’s an extremely hard worker, a grinder. He’s extremely bright on all things football, an excellent communicator and always eager to learn more. He asks a lot of questions and writes everything down. I’ve always been impressed with his work ethic and his eagerness to learn more. He’ll be an excellent head coach, without a doubt. He is ready for this for sure.”

Broncos President John Elway, via

“Adam is a bright, young, energetic football coach who has worked very hard for this opportunity. I anticipate that Adam will be very successful as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.”

Steve Mariucci, NFL Network analyst, via

Mariucci was Lions head coach and was impressed when Gase asked for a coaching job:

“What I got out of that meeting (was) it’s unusual for a young guy to go to a head coach behind closed doors and say, ‘Hey, I want a job. Hire me, please. I’ll do whatever.’ So I created a job for him in coaching. I took him away from scouting and put him on the coaching staff as a quality control coach to get his feet wet and work hard and do whatever we asked him to do. I felt that he was very ambitious. I felt that he was very bright and he wanted to work. He was a very young, ambitious, bright kid.

“He retained knowledge and applies what he’s learned and has kind of formulated his own offense and his own way of teaching. I think the players will respond to him. He’s been around some really good quarterbacks, obviously. So I think that Ryan Tannehill will be very, very happy with him and his offense.”

Jay Cutler (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Jay Cutler (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

QB Jay Cutler, via

“I couldn’t be happier for Adam and his family. He has worked extremely hard his entire career and is very deserving of this opportunity. I wish he could stay with us in Chicago, but everyone has a journey and this is the next part of his.

“His work with quarterbacks is well documented and I know firsthand how good he is. He will now continue to have success in this league as a head coach. I thank him for all his hard work and look forward to following this next step in his career.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 1.48.22 PM

Gase establishes record for Dolphins

Adam Gase becomes the youngest head coach in Dolphins history (excluding interim coaches).

Coach                  Age              Yrs         W-L

Adam Gase         37                  –                 –

Don Shula            40                26             257-133-2

Cam Cameron      46                  1             1-15

Tony Sparano       47                  4             29-32

Dave Wannstedt   48                  5             42-31

Joe Philbin            51                  4             24-28

George Wilson      52                  4             15-39-2

Jimmy Johnson     53                  4             36-28

Nick Saban           54                   2            15-17