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Gase to address Dolphins' quarterback-head coach relationship

The Miami Dolphins were all smiles and good tidings on Saturday afternoon because they got their man in Adam Gase.

Right or wrong, whatever you think of this hire, it is the first time during owner Stephen Ross's tenure that a Dolphins search on the football side has quickly identified a No. 1 target, homed in on that target, and hit that target flush. No flubs. No stiff-arm rejections. No contentious negotiations.

And the process had some highly interesting moments and reasons for going where it did. I write about those in my column in today's Miami Herald.

I encourage you to go to that piece because I believe it adds some insight to this search and the direction the Dolphins are going that you absolutely will not get anywhere else.

Now, having said that, the newspaper column has the disadvantage of being constrained by space. Over here on my blog, there are no space limits because the internet is not yet full. So I must expand on something that, frankly, was buried in my column, and that is the idea that former Dolphins coach Joe Philbin didn't feel fully comfortable with quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

This was a revelation to me. And it explained a lot of things.

So let me expand on it:

After the 2013 season, the Dolphins were awash in drama. GM Jeff Ireland and Philbin were not playing nice with each other. Ross was listening to each and deciding how to resolve the rift -- he decided to fire Ireland. And the idea that offensive coordinator Mike Sherman had to go was being debated. And Philbin didn't want Sherman fired.

So, I am told, as he tried to save his assistant and friend, Philbin blamed the problems of the Dolphins offense on the players in general and Tannehill in particular. All this was done within the private confines of the team's practice facility while publicly Philbin followed the narrative that Tannehill was improving and simply needed more work.

In fact, Philbin was not a Tannehill believer as he led everyone to believe.

It even reached the point Philbin wanted to replace Tannehill.

Before the 2014 draft, I am told Philbin pushed for the Dolphins to draft another quarterback. And he didn't want to just draft a quarterback sometime during the multi-day event, like in the late rounds. He wanted a quarterback in the first round. The team was locked in on addressing the offensive line to protect Tannehill. The team was focused on Ja'Waun James in the first round.

Joe Philbin wanted the Dolphins to draft Derek Carr in the first round instead of James.

Dennis Hickey went with the offensive lineman, as was his power to do. And he picked Jarvis Landry in the second round. The Dolphins made improvement to positions around Tannehill to make him better rather than replace him like Philbin wanted.

But then, under a new offensive coordinator and scheme, Tannehill got off to a rocky start in 2014. So did his head coach stand up in public and support Tannehill and insist that Tannehill was the answer, and his guy, and there was nothing to see here?


Before a trip to London to play, not coincidently Carr and the Oakland Raiders, Philbin refused to utter words that should have come easily to him. He refused to say Tannehill was his starter. Remember that?

History tells us that Tannehill improved dramatically after that. And being led by the changing wind as he sometimes was, Philbin moved toward his QB. In fact, when the Dolphins hired Dan Marino and Marino seemed to get close to Tannehill, Philbin resented it. He wanted only offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and QB coach Zac Taylor in Tannehill's ear.

(By the way,  Marino knows a thing or two about playing QB. He's in the Hall of Fame. And although Marino was careful not to step on toes, if he wanted to help Tannehill, neither Philbin nor anyone on the coaching staff was going to stop him. Indeed, Tannehill, starved for help and support, welcomed it).

Despite Tannehill's improvement the last three months of the 2014 season, whenever things got sideways, the coach showed he wasn't a believer in Tannehill. Remember he got "queasy" with the idea of putting the 2014 Green Bay game in Tannehill's hands?

Early in the 2015 season. Philbin privately seemed to focus much of his dissatisfaction or frustration on Tannehill.

And, as I wrote, it became clear to the new Dolphins hierarchy that the coach was not completely in the QB's corner.

That is one reason Adam Gase is the new head coach today. Gase knows he was hired to make Ryan Tannehill a player. He knows he was hired to forge a relationship with Tannehill and work together with Tannehill to get things right at the quarterback position for the Miami Dolphins. 

Clearly, Gase is aware Tannehill hasn't been confident in the people that were supposed to be on his side. Gase wants to change that.

"I think he needs a guy that’s going to have his back; that he feels comfortable with right out the gate," Gase said. "And I’m going to be working directly with him. And then I am going to hire guys on the offensive staff to also help him develop. I feel like when we do put a staff together we are all going to be able to help him get a little bit better."