Report: Team leaders unanimously urged Miami Dolphins to sign Drew Brees, not Daunte Culpepper

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees celebrates after the Saints beat Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLIV. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

With the 2006 season on the horizon, then-Dolphins coach Nick Saban gathered leaders on the team and asked them if they’d rather have Drew Brees or Daunte Culpepper as their new quarterback.

“In unison, we said, ‘Drew Brees,’ ” defensive lineman Kevin Carter said.

That exchange came to light this week in Albert Breer’s piece on Saban’s future NFL prospects for Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback.

Dolphins fans don’t need to be reminded what happened next. Saban and the Dolphins overruled the players, opting for Culpepper. Saban has said that team doctors were concerned about the health of Brees’ shoulder.

Culpepper played all of four games for Miami, winning just one, before getting hurt once again.

Brees remains one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, will someday be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and, dumping more salt on things, won a Super Bowl played in Miami with the Saints.

Oh, and Saban soon was on his way to Alabama and the Dolphins continued their never-ending search for a great quarterback in the post-Marino era.

If they’d made the right choice?

‘If he’d signed Brees, I think we’d have been in the playoffs consistently, and battling with the Patriots for the top of the AFC East.’ — ex-Dolphins DL Kevin Carter

“I think they’d probably have had a 10-year run competing year-in and year-out with the Patriots,” former Dolphins quarterback Sage Rosenfels told Breer. “They still had a very good defense, and I thought he drafted fairly well, the free agents he brought in were good football players. I think he’d have been a very good NFL coach—and I bet he would’ve lightened up a little as he went on.”

And maybe we’d be looking at Sunday’s Dolphins trip to New England in an entirely different light.

“If he’d signed Brees, I think we’d have been in the playoffs consistently, and battling with the Patriots for the top of the AFC East,” Carter said. “If Brees came to Miami, he’s still the quarterback there, and you might have a championship team over that time.”

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Dolphins’ Adam Gase learned crisis management under dad & Nick Saban

Nick Saban was a big influence on Adam Gase in terms of crisis management. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE—One of the major changes when a coach goes from coordinator to the head job is having to navigate a broad range of issues on and off the field. Dolphins coach Adam Gase has encountered quite a few in his first year and a half in charge.

Gase’s challenges have included losing his starting quarterback twice, all the Hurricane Irma-related problems and, most recently, having to remove an offensive line coach after an unseemly video surfaced.

It takes more than X’s and O’s to steer a team through things like that, and Gase’s main education in that field came from watching his father Art in the business world and his seven years coaching under Nick Saban. When asked specifically about what he learned from his dad, Gase gave revealing insight into what makes him the way he is.

“The thing that comes to mind for me with him is I just remember he never shied away from anything,” Gase said today. “He always met it head on. He never looked for somebody else to try to fix something. I think I always appreciated the fact that he was always trying to lead the charge.”

He also said, “I think a little bit has to do watching how my dad operated… dealing with anything that would come up and jumping to the forefront. I’m the one in charge. I’ve got to handle it.”

That’s clearly been Gase’s mindset since taking over the Dolphins in January 2016, and he’s lived up to it. One thing players have consistently credited him for is being direct and steady.

If that sounds a little bit like Saban, it should. Gase was a student staffer at Michigan State when Saban coached there and followed him to LSU for three seasons as an assistant.

“I don’t remember anything quite happening every week, but watching him, how he always handled things where he dealt with a situation and had to get back to work, had to move on to the next thing,” Gase said.

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Ouch! Nick Saban, Drew Brees and a Miami Dolphins dynasty: SI explores What If?

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees celebrates after the Saints beat Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLIV. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

Sports Illustrated just had to go there, didn’t it?

It’s NFL draft time and the magazine has just posted a “What If?” edition that examines what might have happened had all sorts of milestones in sports not occurred as they actually did.

In the football section: What if the Miami Dolphins hadn’t blown it by choosing Daunte Culpepper as their quarterback over Drew Brees? What if Brees had been cleared by the Dolphins’ medical crew?

Dolphins fans will want to thank Sports Illustrated for rubbing it in.

The clincher: The magazine doctored its famous cover of Brees hoisting his son after winning the Super Bowl (in Miami!). Instead of wearing the Saints’ black-and-white, Brees is depicted in Dolphins’ aqua and orange as confetti flies.

“Miami Lives The Dream,” the headline says, mocking what longtime Dolphins fans consider a nightmare and one of the worst personnel decisions in team history.

Culpepper, of course, lasted all of four games with the Dolphins.

Brees, according to writer Michael Rosenberg, is still enjoying a swell career in Miami, about to surpass 70,000 career yards en route to the Hall of Fame.

Oh, and selecting him over Culpepper is “the best decision that Saban ever made,” Rosenberg writes.

Saban? Oh, yes. According to SI, when Nick Saban said he wasn’t going to be the Alabama coach, he actually wasn’t lying. Saban stuck around Davie and built a powerhouse Dolphins team that bumped the Patriots off their perch and drove Bill Belichick into to seek devious means of finding an edge. Even if it meant, oh, deflating footballs.

Who’d ever believe that?

Alabama, meanwhile, resorted to hiring Bobby Petrino instead of Saban.

Rosenberg lays out plenty of other fun scenarios sure to be well-received in places like Tuscaloosa.

But one other that caught our eye is how Saban put aside his beloved Little Debbies for a moment to “enjoy a fine meal at one of his upscale steakhouses, Saban’s (formerly known as Shula’s).”

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Nick Saban “happy for the Dolphins to be in the playoffs”

Saban running a minicamp in 2005. (AP Photo)
Saban running a minicamp in 2005. (AP Photo)

PITTSBURGH–It’s hard to tell if this will make Dolphins fans happy or angry.

Alabama coach Nick Saban, one of the most despised figures in recent South Florida sports history, was pleased to see the Dolphins and his former assistant Adam Gase reach the postseason. It’s Miami’s first trip since the 2008 season, and Saban came up short at 9-7 and 6-10 in his two seasons as head coach.
Continue reading “Nick Saban “happy for the Dolphins to be in the playoffs””

Dolphins winning 6th straight would put Adam Gase in historic class

It's a fun time to be the Dolphins. (Getty Images)
It’s a fun time to be the Dolphins. (Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES–Five wins in a row are nice. Now go for six.

The Dolphins matched their 2008 run of five straight victories by beating the Rams on Sunday and now have a shot at going even higher on the list of best streaks in franchise history. If they beat the 49ers on Sunday, it will be their longest winning streak since Nick Saban’s six in a row to end the 2005 season. That team went 9-7, by the way.

Six straight wins for Adam Gase would give him the ninth-best streak the team has ever had, tying him with Saban’s ’05 team and the Dolphins of 1970, ’90 and ’92. Here are the only regular-season runs that have been better, including streaks that spanned more than one season:
Continue reading “Dolphins winning 6th straight would put Adam Gase in historic class”