The 2016 NFL head-coaching chase is now officially rolling.
The hottest coaching candidate making the rounds in the first week after Black Monday was Chicago Bears assistant coach Adam Gase, and the Miami Dolphins have reeled him in as their new head coach, the team announced Saturday morning.
According to FS1 NFL Insider Mike Garafolo, Gase — who at 37 immediately becomes the NFL’s youngest head coach — agreed to a five-year contract with the team.
"I’ve been in this profession since I was 18," Gase said at an introductory news conference Saturday afternoon. "That’s more than half my life. The last three years it’s an accelerated growth. Age is only a number. You get older really quick. Every week is a growing experience."
A separate source told Marvez the names of three assistant coaches who will be joining Gase’s staff in Miami.
Gase also interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles (who plan to speak with former New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin on Monday), Cleveland Browns and Giants. Gase’s name was linked to head-coaching vacancies last offseason as well.
In the team’s press release, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross explained why he wanted the highly sought-after Gase, whom the team zeroed in on after interviewing six other candidates, per The Associated Press.
“We did exhaustive research on all of the candidates ahead of time and conducted thorough and detailed interviews with each person,” Ross said. “In the end, I was convinced and the search committee was unanimous Adam was the right leader for our football team who best met all of our priorities. He has high energy, is competitive and driven to win with a mindset of teaching and developing players.”
"I want to win Super Bowls, not just make the playoffs," Ross later told reporters. "Adam Gase puts us in the best position to win Super Bowls."
Dolphins safety Reshad Jones was the first player to give him a social-media welcome.
Gase has quite the challenge ahead of him. He is the Dolphins’ ninth coach since 2004 in an AFC East that has been dominated by Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots since the turn of the century. Gase is poised with trying to end Miami’s seven-year playoff drought.
Gase has no head-coaching experience but has been a target of NFL coaching searches for at least three years. A year ago, he followed coach John Fox from Denver to Chicago after interviewing for head-coaching jobs with the Bears, Bills and Falcons.
Gase is a protege of former Dolphins coach Nick Saban and has won favorable reviews for his work with a range of quarterback talent — from Peyton Manning to Jay Cutler to Tim Tebow. In Miami, he’ll try to help Ryan Tannehill, who is 29-35 in four years as a starter and regressed in 2015, when the Dolphins finished 6-10. Manning said Gase is bright, eager and a hard worker.
"He’ll be an excellent head coach without a doubt," Manning said in a statement released by the Dolphins. "He is ready for this for sure."
Said Cutler: "I wish he could stay with us in Chicago. … He will now continue to have success in this league."
Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum, who led the job search, had success while with the Jets hiring first-time NFL head coaches Eric Mangini and Rex Ryan. That approach hasn’t worked with the coaching carousel in Miami, where none of Gase’s eight most recent predecessors had previous NFL head-coaching experience.
Like Gase, the Dolphins’ three most recent offseason hires were assistants: Cam Cameron, Tony Sparano and Joe Philbin.
Miami did interview former head coaches Mike Shanahan, Mike Smith and Doug Marrone this week. Others interviewed included Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell, Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and Bills running backs coach and assistant head coach Anthony Lynn.
But from the start, there was a buzz about Gase. During his single season with the Bears, they won only six games and ranked 17th in offensive points, but he helped Cutler reduce his turnovers and post a career-high passer rating of 92.3.
Gase spent six seasons on the staff in Denver, where he helped Tebow win a playoff game. In Gase’s first season as offensive coordinator in 2013, Manning and the Broncos scored an NFL-record 606 points and reached the Super Bowl. The following year they scored 482 points, the league’s second-highest total.
A native of Ypsilanti, Michigan, Gase worked on the staff of Michigan State coach Nick Saban while a student there. He followed Saban to LSU and was a graduate assistant and recruiting assistant before beginning his NFL career in 2003.
Saban coached the Dolphins in 2005-06. He’s one of their eight coaches since their most recent playoff victory in 2000.