By Chris Emma–
INDIANAPOLIS (CBS) — Perhaps it was the loafers or slight tan, but Adam Gase already seems like a fit in Miami.
Just weeks removed from his time as Bears offensive coordinator, Gase came to his first NFL Combine as a head coach. After interviewing with four different teams, Gase accepted the chance to lead the Dolphins.
Gase, 37, now enters a critical offseason as a rookie coach, with personnel decisions looming as he looks to establish his unique schemes and overall presence. Gase has a promising young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, a superstar defensive tackle in Ndamukong Suh and plenty of pieces to build.
“We just got to figure out what we do best,” Gase said. “That’s what we’ll hang out hats on.”
The Bears went 6-10 in Gase’s one season in Chicago, though the offense made improvements under its new coordinator. A unit that saw far too many injuries was kept competent by Gase and quarterback Jay Cutler.
Change can be quite the challenge, though it’s something Bears coach John Fox had done twice before Chicago. Gase learned a lot from that experience with Fox. Now, he’s the man in charge.
“I saw a culture change,” Gase said of Fox’s first year in Chicago. “Just to see him do that was priceless in my development.”
Fox hired Gase, his offensive coordinator in Denver, knowing that it would likely be a one-and-done job. Gase was previously in position to become the 49ers’ new coach, but then the team’s management pulled a power play and hired Jim Tomsula after talks broke down. Gase became a de facto coach-in-waiting, pending the next offer, and Dowell Loggains became his understudy, then was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator when Gase left.
Because of the unique circumstances, Gase observed closely how Fox operated his program. Fox has a steady presence all around Halas Hall. Gase believed it brought unity.
“(I hope) to come to Miami and then do the best I can to touch each department, and make sure it feels like I’m a part of that entire building,” Gase said.
Gase leaves behind a Bears team that’s building under Fox and general manager Ryan Pace. Following a 6-10 season, Chicago is budding for better, starting with a critical offseason. The Dolphins also went 6-10, though they faced much higher expectations in 2015. It led to the mid-season dismissal of coach Joe Philbin.
In reflecting on his season with the Bears, Gase sees a promising future. The marriage between Cutler and Loggains is one that he expects great success from.
“It’s a great dynamic, I know that,” Gase said. “I always loved being around those two guys, kind of seeing the banter between them. But when they hit the field, there’s something special between those two guys.”
On to his next challenge, Gase has a Dolphins team that boasts playoff potential in Year 1. Miami has its quarterback, the defensive standout plus enough talent to win. And now it has Gase too, the coach whose task is to bring the Dolphins a winner.