Over the years as I have said, I have met with the coaches but I have also stayed at the same hotel that the team has stayed at on Saturday nights and through that I have seen the coaches outside of the facility. With their players.
Cam Cameron I didn’t see but Sparano was often holed up in his office or in a conference room as the players made their way to their rooms. Philbin was almost always leaving the players with his coaching staff at the hotel. While I’m sure he was there, I never saw Philbin with the players themselves. Not at the hotel.
My first glimpse of Gase came two days before the San Francisco game on Friday. While at the training facility, Gase passed by me on his way to the media room adjacent to the practice field. His head was down looking at something and he was talking with an assistant but I wasn’t sure who it was.
Gase is a lot taller than I thought he was. I’m around 5’9 or 5’10” depending on whether you ask me or my wife. Gase easily, even with his down was taller than I was. I simply said, “Hi coach”, as I passed by. Gase looked up saw a bunch of us walking in the opposite direction and returned it with, “Hey guys!”. Then back to work.
Typically we meet with the coaches as I said but this weekend and perhaps subsequent weekends won’t come with a coaches visit. His schedule last weekend was such that he couldn’t fit us in and that is fine. Better to see him preparing to face his next opponent rather than taking that important time to talk with a bunch of web-heads.
On Saturday night however Gase made an even bigger impression, simply because our Friday exchange wasn’t really much of an impression other than that he took a second to acknowledge. As I pulled into the hotel the drive was blocked by a horde of men laughing and jumping around.
Players had finished their pre-game team meetings and were spilling into the driveway as they made their way across the street to their rooms. The players were not quiet by any means and we slowed down considerably to give them the freedom to move out-of-the-way at their own will.
As the players laughed it up and chatted we passed by and to our surprise Adam Gase was in the middle of them. Playbook in hand going over who knows what while his players whooped it up next to him. “Give ’em hell boys!” I said out the window. Gase threw a quick thumbs up and went back to work.
What was impressive was not the fact that Gase acknowledged someone speaking to him it was the fact that unlike previous coaches, Gase has made himself part of the team. He is not the nickel and dime attention to detail coach that Joe “tie your shoes and pick up the gum wrapper” Philbin was. With his staff and players Gase is a mix of business and pleasure and his players have taken to that.
Andre Branch spoke to us on Friday and was asked about Gase and he beamed when he spoke about the coach who gets down into it with the players. He doesn’t command or demand respect, he simply earns it. It’s something that has reverberated through most of the players all season long since his arrival. I think it was Jarvis Landry who said, “Not one player has anything bad to say about Adam Gase or the way he coaches this team”.
Coaches this team? Interesting indeed and long overdue.