In his first trial as a head coach, Miami’s Adam Gase was an unequivocal success.
The Dolphins not only reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years but had their first winning season (10-6) since clinching the AFC East in 2008. And, perhaps more importantly, quarterback Ryan Tannehill had the best year of his pro career.
Tannehill has been the team’s starter since Miami made him its first-round draft choice in 2012 and, until last season, was a question mark. Reason: In his four previous years, Tannehill never was better than 8-8 and was 29-35 for his pro career.
Then Gase showed up, and the rest you know. Tannehill was 8-5 before his season was cut short by a knee injury, and the Dolphins qualified for the playoffs. Now the question: What’s next for Ryan Tannehill?
“I think he’s really made a lot of strides from when I got here,” Gase said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “A lot of it has been his own development through experience.
“When we got here, and we kind of started working through practice and meetings and going through a season together, I just saw some growth as a person and as a football player.
"When you’re involved in these games, every game is just a wealth of knowledge that you’re gaining. And the best guys to work with are the guys that, when they make a mistake, they lock that in and make sure it never happens again. They learn from that, they develop from that and they really excel the next time they get in those types of situations.”
Well, Tannehill developed. And he seems to have learned. His completion percentage was the best of his career. His record was the best of his career. His touchdown percentage was, too. So was his passer rating. And he had three game-winning fourth-quarter drives – tying his career high.
Gase has said he wants Tannehill to be more aggressive this season and take more chances. But, so far, so good. He likes what he sees from his quarterback – a change from a year ago when he said he wanted to wait before making a prediction on his future.
“We were put in a lot of tough positions last year,” Gase said, “and I felt like -- especially in our fourth-quarter games, which we had quite a few of them -- he did a great job of leading our team (and) finding ways to win.
“Sometimes they weren’t pretty as far as how we had to win them, but I love the fact that he’s the same guy from start to finish. You see him get excited every once and awhile, but it’s probably one of those plays where he makes a good throw, and he gets crushed. But he’s the same guy all the time. And when you can find a guy like that there’s a lot there for us to just keep working on and find ways to get better.”