Adam Gase’s Twelve Steps to Rehabilitating the Dolphins: Step 5


The Miami Dolphins are hoping that Adam Gase can mold the team into a playoff contender. The road to get there is not a matter of one big leap, but rather, a series of small steps.

Of all the changes Adam Gase is implementing as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, none will excite the fan base more than his plan of doing away with the dink-and-dunk passing attack that was the hallmark of the Joe Philbin era. In other words, Gase plans on shattering the myth that Ryan Tannehill cannot throw the deep pass once and for all.

According to Gase, his plan to revamp the Dolphins passing game was bolstered after seeing Tannehill’s arm strength in person.

"“(Tannehill is) smart, he’s athletic and he has the ability to make all the throws,” insisted Gase, to Pete Prisco of, before going on to explain that the fifth-year quarterback simply needs is to have his abilities channeled in the right direction. “It’s not as if he’s been unproductive. Look at his numbers. They are good numbers. Now it’s just a matter of translating those numbers into wins for this team.”"

In spite of Gase’s confidence in Tannehill, the QB’s ability to throw the long ball has been hotly debated since his rookie year of 2012, when the Dolphins lacked a deep threat capable of stretching defenses. In an effort to overcome that weakness, the team brought in former Pittsburgh Steeler, Mike Wallace, signing the so called “fastest man in the NFL” to a five-year, $60 million contract in 2013.

Unfortunately for Miami, longer routes required additional time in the pocket, and that, as was discussed in Step 4 of this series, was a luxury the Dolphins didn’t have. To make matters worse, Tannehill wasn’t just stuck behind a dismal offensive line that gave up a team record 58 sacks, he was also denied the option of buying himself a few extra seconds by rolling out of the pocket by head coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. As a result, Tannehill and Wallace failed to develop the chemistry required to consistently connect deep down field. Adding to the problem, the high-priced wideout was a poor route runner, and even worse at tracking the ball. Most damning of all, he often appeared unwilling to fight for the ball unless it dropped directly into his hands.

Naturally, following the Wallace failure, some way wonder if Gase’s first priority will be teaching Tannehill how to throw an accurate deep ball. Not likely, because, as the chart below reveals, after the Dolphins parted ways with Wallace, something surprising occurred! Tannehill’s long game improved by leaps and bounds!

Tannehill’s Annual Passer Rating on Deep Throws

Pass Length2012 Rating2013 Rating2014 Rating2015 Rating
31-40 yds73.236.330.3109.7

Since Wallace’s departure, Tannehill has proven that, when given a capable route runner, like Kenny Stills, and an athletic high flyer willing to fight for passes, like DeVante Parker, he can not only orchestrate a deep passing game, but excel at it. As a matter of fact, in 2015, Tannehill passing accuracy ranked 4th among all NFL QBs on throws of 20 yards or more.

QBTotal Passes 20+ yardsPercent Accurate
Ben Roethlisberger 8865.9
Andrew Luck4658.7
Cam Newton9057.8
Ryan Tannehill6854.4
Tyrod Taylor6854.4

To further dispel the myth that Tannehill is a poor long ball passer, below are the 2015 accuracy percentages of other notable quarterbacks, including four Super Bowl champions.

QBTotal Passes 20+ yards
Percent Accurate
Matt Ryan3852.6
Russell Wilson7247.2
Aaron Rodgers6546.2
Tom Brady7343.8
Phillip Rivers5042.0
Peyton Manning5240.4

While Tannehill’s accuracy is impressive, there is still room for improvement. Fortunately for Dolphins fans, there is every reason to believe Gase can take Tannehill’s game to the next level. After all, the former offensive coordinator helped elevate the career of Peyton Manning, a QB already considered among the greatest in the history of the league by the time the two of them hooked up in Denver.

“Everything we do is about what can our players do. What are their strengths,” Gase told Prisco, leaving little doubt he intends to use the same formula with Tannehill that he applied to Manning.

“Everything we do is about what can our players do. What are their strengths,”

Prior to Gase and Manning’s time together in the Mile High City, which lasted from 2012 to 2014, the aging gunslinger hadn’t managed a 100+ passer rating since 2006. Yet, guided by Gase, his QB ratings shot up to 105.8, 115.1 and 101.5 respectively. A big reason for this was the way in which the famed quarterback whisperer restructured the Broncos’ attack to maximize Manning’s strengths, in particular, by using a variety of running backs, tight ends and receivers to create mismatches all over the field, just as he intends to do in Miami. The effect of this strategy on the future hall of famer’s play can be readily seen in the following chart, especially in the number of deep passes he completed.*





20+ YdsComp

40+ YdsRating201559.822496.891724767.9201466.247277.9391566*11*101.5201368.354778.3551068*13*115.1201268.646598.0371164*7*105.8201166.347006.9331743991.9

To fully understand how career altering the Gase effect turned out to be for Manning, simply consider that his passer rating jumped 13.9 points during their first year together, a stunning increase that helped the aging star land the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. Subsequently, his rating fell 33.6 points after Gase moved on to Chicago.

Their partnership reflects even better on Gase when one takes into account that Manning managed six 100+ rated seasons during his eighteen years in the NFL, and the three under Gase came near the end of his career, when his physical abilities were in obvious decline. More impressive still, in 2013, Gase’s first year as offensive coordinator, Manning won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award, breaking both the NFL’s single-season records for passing touchdowns and passing yards, and the Broncos, as a team, set NFL records with 606 points and 76 TDs.

Impressive as these achievements were, the greatest testament to the Gase effect came from the legendary QB himself, who, according to’s Andy Cohen, once called Gase, “the smartest man I know.”

As previously mentioned, Gase was capable of squeezing the last bit of greatness out of Manning by creating mismatches that catered to his strengths. Now, he intends to do something similar in Miami. Only, this time, his goal is to help Ryan Tannehill grow into an elite quarterback, one capable of leading the Dolphins into the playoffs. And while it won’t be easy, he has already put together a plan to achieve just that, and in the process, assembled, perhaps the most explosive and diverse group of pass catchers in Dolphins’ history.

So what exactly is Gase’s master plan to take advantage of Tannehill’s newfound deep ball accuracy? A three-phased, fast moving and versatile Swiss Army Knife styled offense with just the right tools for any occasion.


As I mentioned in Step 2 of this series, the main weapons in a Gase offense are his deep threats, a radical departure from the conservative schemes Miami fans grew to despise during the Philbin era. As the offensive coordinator of the Broncos and the Chicago Bears, Gase used an aggressive deep game to spread the field, creating space for the rest of his weapons to work. The same will be true in Miami because, as it happens, the Dolphins are already equipped with two exceptional deep threats in Devante Parker and Kenny Stills, as evidenced by their career statistics below.


As mentioned earlier, Parker’s ability to go up for for the ball deep  makes him a prototype receiver for Gase’s attack oriented style.

While Stills ability to beat defenders deep with crisp routes makes him an equally dangerous weapon in Gase’s offensive scheme.



Unlike most offensive philosophies, which seek to set up the long game by drawing defensive backs closer to the line of scrimmage, Gase employs an aggressive style that uses his deep threats to clear out passing lanes across the middle of the field and down the seams, where tight end Jordan Cameron thrives.

Rookie Leonte Carroo may prove even more dangerous than Cameron in this area of the field because he is a hybrid between the aforementioned Parker, and Pro Bowler, Jarvis Landry. Blessed with phenomenal hands and excellent body control, if not blazing speed, he is, nevertheless, capable of getting downfield and wrestling the ball away from defensive backs. His ability to haul in the long pass also keeps defenders honest, allowing him to break across the middle of the field for big gains.

The statistics below highlight Cameron’s pro career, while Carroo’s numbers reflect his contributions as part of the Rutgers University Scarlett Knights. It should also be noted that Carroo’s outstanding yards-per-reception average* further highlights his ability to tack on additional yardage after the catch.



With defenders preoccupied downfield by the likes of Parker, Stills and Carroo, Gase will employ three explosive weapons, Jarvis Landry, and rookies Jakeem Grant and Kenyan Drake, to exploit mismatches against linebackers and slot defenders. Excellent open field runners with kick return experience, each is the capable of turning short plays into long touchdowns, as Landry did against the Houston Texans last season.

Grant, perhaps the new “fastest man in the NFL”, at 5’7”, 168lb, is a lightning bolt out of Texas Tech who can weave his way through opposing defenders in spectacular fashion.

Given his unique skill set, Drake may prove the biggest surprise to come out of the Dolphins 2015 draft class. In fact, some analysts have toyed with the possibility that he may be more successful in the NFL than he was in college. A big reason for this is his versatility. As the clip below shows, he is a skilled pass catcher out of the backfield.

More impressive still, as I mentioned in Step 3 of this series, Drake’s versatility allows him to line up as a wide receiver, the results of which can be seen below.

Because Landry, Grant and Drake are all capable runners with the ability to use those skills in a variety of gadget plays, rather than looking at just their receiving numbers, we will look at their combined receptions and rushes, or touches. In the case of Landry, the statistics below reflect his first two season in the NFL, while Drake and Grant’s numbers are indicative of what they achieved during their college careers.


In addition to these electric playmakers, both Jay Ajayi and Arian  Foster are talented pass catchers out of the backfield, capable of converting Gase’s array of screen plays into a key aspect of Miami’s offense.

As such, barring injuries, Gase should have at least nine extremely dangerous weapons to help take advantage of Tannehill’s powerful arm at every level of the field. This could provide huge dividends for the Dolphins’ running game by preventing defenses from stacking the box. And that, in turn, may just give Gase what he covets most for the Dolphins offense, a balanced attack designed to keep opposing defensive coordinator’s guessing.

To read Step 4 in this series, click here.

To read Step 3 in this series, click here.

To read Step 2 in this series, click here.

To read Step 1 in this series, click here.