After Jets CEO Christopher Johnson selected former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase to lead the Green & White, Chad Pennington enthusiastically endorsed the decision.
“I’ve known Adam Gase for three-plus years now, and I believe he is a great hire for the organization,” said Pennington, who was a Jet from 2000-2007 and a Dolphin from 2008-2010 . “He will bring energy, enthusiasm, and most importantly passion to the game of football. As a fan base we want passion, we want enthusiasm, and that’s what Coach Gase brings.”
Pennington, who captured the NFL Comeback Player of the Year with the Jets in 2006 and the Dolphins in 2008, said Gase will communicate well with his players and demand accountability from everyone inside the locker room.
“For players, I believe he’s a no-nonsense coach that understands the importance of having good relationships with players,” Pennington said. “He also wants you as a player to be all-in. If you’re not all-in, you’re out.”
Gase, who called plays for the Dolphins, the Bears and the Broncos, had Ryan Tannehill, Jay Cutler and Peyton Manning all enjoy career seasons under his guidance. Pennington believes he is the perfect coach to develop Sam Darnold as the talented signal caller enters his first true professional offseason.
“Adam does a good job of looking at his talent and the talents of his quarterback and devising the right system for them. That’s why he’s been successful with all of his quarterbacks from Peyton Manning to Jay Cutler to Ryan Tannehill,” Pennington said. “He has tailored the system around what they do well, he listens to them. I think he will do the same with Sam, and find out what Sam does well, and then play to those strengths.”
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With Gase calling the plays for the Broncos in 2013, Manning threw for a league-record 55 touchdowns and was named the NFL’s MVP as the Denver offense set a single-season-record with 606 points. Manning, who called Johnson during the interview process to recommend Gase for the position, also knows something about making a dramatic jump between his professional freshman and sophomore campaigns.
Manning, the top overall selection in the 1998 draft, completed 56.7 percent of his passes for 3,739 yards with 26 touchdowns and 28 interceptions his first season with the Colts. Then he came back in 1999 and connected on 62.1 percent of his tosses for 4,135 yards with 26 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
“The first thing I would do if I was Sam Darnold would be call Peyton Manning and I would talk to Peyton about his thought process about Adam Gase,” Pennington said. “I would also talk to him about what Peyton did in his second year to make the transition from his first to second year and what were the most important things that he did because he went from 3-13 to 13-3.”
Gase, who had a 23-25 mark as head coach of the Dolphins from 2016-18, led Miami to the postseason in his first year with Tannehill making 13 starts. After Tannehill hit on 67.1 percent of his passes that season for 2,995 yards with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, he tore his ACL the following summer and missed the entire the 2017 year. The ‘Fins turned to Jay Cutler and dropped back to 6-10, but Tannehill returned in 2018 and Miami was again in the postseason hunt in December before it finished with three consecutive losses.
“Adam is certain to benefit from his learning experiences in Miami. One thing we forget about is that in his three years, his first year they went to the playoffs, they didn’t have their starting quarterback the following season, and then this year, they’re 7-6 knocking at the door of the playoffs despite missing their quarterback for five games,” Pennington said. “But I really respect what he’s been able to do when his team experienced a lot of injuries and a lot of transition, especially at the quarterback position. He played five different quarterbacks in three years: Tannehill, Cutler, Brock Osweiler, Matt Moore and even David Fales from San Jose State. He played five quarterbacks within a three-year span and still is close to .500 football. That’s unheard of. Unheard of.”
There will be familiarity with the opposition as well considering Gase will remain in the AFC East. While people point to the ‘Fins 5-1 mark against the Jets the past three seasons, Gase had his team split with the Pats in each of the past two years.
“I think playing the AFC East takes a little bit of inside knowledge,” Pennington said. “Playing against the Patriots, having success against the Patriots is a positive. I just think that he’s a quality, young head coach that given the right stability within the organization and the right tools, he’ll succeed.”