The Miami Dolphins start the 2016 season against the Seattle Seahawks and Adam Gase will make his head coaching debut. Gase however is not the first head coach to start his Miami Dolphins career against the Seahawks.
When Adam Gase runs on to the field this afternoon he will become the third Miami Dolphins head coach in team history to start his career against the Seattle Seahawks. Previously, Dave Wannstedt and Jim Bates both coached their first game for the Dolphins against the Seahawks.
On September 3rd, 2000, Dave Wannstedt coached his first game as the Dolphins head coach. The visiting Seahawks would leave Miami with a loss as the Dolphins won 23-0. It was Wannstedts first year after departing head coach Jimmy Johnson resigned and convinced then owner Wayne Huizenga to hire his friend.
If there were irony in the world it would come during the 2004 season when Dave Wannstedt would resign during the teams bye week. On November 1st Jim Bates, the interim head coach would make his head coaching debut for the Dolphins against Seattle.
Bates’ first game would be an away game and the team would travel back to Miami with a loss. Losing 17-24.
Adam Gase will try to make his debut a memorable one but looking back at history doesn’t guarantee him success with a win our a loss. Here is how each of the previous Miami Dolphins head coaches faired in their first game.
George Wilson – 32-14 loss at home to the Oakland Raiders. Joe Auer returned the opening kick-off 98 yard for a touchdown to kick-off the season and the Dolphins franchise.
Don Shula – Facing the then Boston Patriots, Shula’s Dolphins would leave New England with a 14-27 loss. Miami Would lose in the division round of the playoffs however.
Jimmy Johnson – Playing at home in his South Florida return, Johnson’s Dolphins opened the season with a 24-10 victory against the visiting Patriots.
Dave Wannstedt – Win vs. Seattle at home 23-0.
Jim Bates – Interim HC – Loss to Seattle on the road 17-24
Nick Saban – On September 11th, 2005 Saban made his Dolphins and NFL debut with a 34-10 home victory against the Denver Broncos.
Cam Cameron – Nothing went right for Cam Cameron in 2007. His first game became a precursor to his entire season. A road loss to Washington by three points. 13-16. The Dolphins would go 1-15 that year with the team losing six of their games by 3 points.
Sparano – In 2008 Tony Sparano kicked-off the Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland era with 14-20 loss at home to the New York Jets.
Todd Bowles – Interim head coach – Bowles would take over a team whose season was already in the tank. The team would rally around Bowles in his first game wining 30-23 in Buffalo against the Bills.
Joe Philbin – In 2012 Philbin took over the Miami Dolphins as the first head coach hired by new owner Stephen Ross. Ross had fired Tony Sparano a year before and opted to not retain Bowles as the head coach. In Philbin’s first game the Dolphins lost 10-30 to the Houston Texans.
Dan Campbell – Interim head coach: Campbell’s first game after Joe Philbin was fired was a 38-10 road win against the Tennessee Titans. In his first home game a week later, he led the Dolphins to a 44-26 blowout win against the Houston Texans.
Previous Miami Dolphins head coaches have all had mixed results in their first game as a Dolphins head coach. All-time, coaches are 5 wins and 6 losses in those first contests.
Those who have lost their first games have tenures that have lasted one season, Cam Cameron, and 26 seasons, Don Shula. Those who have won have lasted a few games as interim head coaches or a few years.
No matter what happens today with Adam Gase, the legacy that he eventually leave Miami with will not be determined by one game. It will only serve as a footnote for the next head coach somewhere down the line.