Every team, when around long enough, has its legends. Those members of it history without which you could not tell the story of the franchise. Their names are spoken with a sense of reverence.
These men, they cast pretty big shadows.
Every single time a linebacker wanders into the Miami Dolphins training camp the questions come. Is this the next Zach? This speaks to the desire for the overachieving, undersized giant of a man Zach Thomas was for years down in south Florida. Drafted in the fifth round of the 1996 NFL Draft he was an instant fan favorite. Even though the Dolphins have a long history of impressive linebackers Zach’s star shined a little bit brighter.
‘The greatest pure passer in the history of the game’. That is how I describe one Dan Marino. Honestly I do not think that title will be taken any time soon. With a flick of the wrist Marino rewrote the record books in a time when you could actually hit the quarterback, never mind mugging the wide receivers. Ryan Tannehill is the latest quarterback to try and fill his shoes. I do not think anyone could ever replace him.
Then you come to ‘The Don’. Don Shula’s shadow is the longest. As it should be. Winningest coach in NFL history. Perfect season. He won games with a staunch defense, power running and a conservative passing game. Then he turned around and won on the golden arm of Marino.
Bum Phillips once said of Shula, “He can take his’n and beat your’n and take your’n and beat his’n.”
So once again the Dolphins looked to find a new coach, more importantly they looked to find the next ‘Don’.
On January 9th, 2015 the Dolphins made Adam Gase their new head coach. Last season he was the offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears.
Adam Gase will never be Don Shula. That is asking far too much. If he won ten games a season he would need 35 years to break Shula’s NFL record 347 wins.
What Gase can be is very good. While he only has 3 years experience as a coordinator he has an extraordinary amount of experience for a 37-yr old. He started his career as a graduate assistant for Nick Saban. Thing is Saban was not the coach at Alabama at the time, he was not coaching LSU either. He was an assistant for Saban way back in Michigan State. Gase was also the only assistant Saban took with him to his next stop. Gase has impressed at every stop of the way. He has called plays, developed quarterbacks and worked with some of the best in the league(Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler).
His first job in Miami will be figuring out whether Ryan Tannehill should be the quarterback going forward.
He is not the ‘Don’ but I believe he is up to the task.