AROUND THE NFL

NFC NORTH

 

GREEN BAY

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com doesn’t like the little digs he detects emitting from Packers QB AARON RODGERS.

 

First, the “audible thing.” Then, the “joint practice thing.” It’s hard not to wonder what “thing” will come next between one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and his first-year head coach.

 

For now, it’s clear that Packers coach Matt LaFleur likes joint practices, and that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn’t.

 

“[A]bsolutely 100 percent I want to do this again,” LaFleur said Tuesday, before Rodgers gave a candid and biting assessment of the practice of engaging in joint practices. The quarterback’s criticism included an element of whistleblowing.

 

“I don’t think doing live special teams drills is very smart,” Rodgers said. “I think the [NFL]PA is going to look at that, for sure. The kickoff especially is one of the most dangerous plays in football, and that’s why they’ve tweaked different things over the years. Close to a live kickoff drill I don’t think is best use of a [joint] practice.”

 

Well, it’s LaFleur who decided to have joint practices, and it’s LaFleur who decided to permit “close to a live kickoff drill” that “for sure” the NFL Players Association will look at. And it’s Rodgers who decided to call out his team and his coach for doing it.

 

So why did Rodgers do it? Well, who’s going to stop him from doing it? And what are they going to do about it? Trade him? Bench him for DeShone Kizer?

 

Rodgers continues to be the most powerful employee in the organization, and he’s showing everyone who wears the championship belt. They’ll let him gloat for now. The moment he shows real signs of slippage, however, the Packers will cut the cord and Rodgers will be playing for another team — just like his predecessor in Green Bay.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

CAROLINA

The Panthers are gaga over WR CURTIS SAMUEL, emerging in his 3rd year.  Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com:

 

Carolina is hoping and expecting that third’s time a charm for Curtis Samuel.

 

The third-year receiver didn’t contribute much in his first two campaigns, compiling 66 touches for 757 yards and seven scores in 22 games. Samuel, 22, was expected to be a game-breaking talent out of college, but he has since been overshadowed by draftmate Christian McCaffrey and last year’s first-round pick D.J. Moore.

 

But no more, says, well, everyone at Panthers camp.

 

Samuel has inspired more compliments per capita than any player in Panthers, or perhaps any other, training camp. Below is a selection of rave reviews from Charlotte, per ESPN’s David Newton:

 

McCaffrey, RB: “He’s got foot speed that’s rare. Not just in the league. I’d say in the world. Being able to watch him really use his skills well and learn and develop has been a lot of fun.”

 

Torrey Smith, WR: “He’s had the most growth out of any player I’ve ever seen in terms of as a player, confidence … everything. I’m expecting him to have a huge year. He’s worked his way to be in that position.”

 

Chris Hogan, WR: “He’s special, man. He’s explosive. He’s quick off the line, has really good hands, runs really good routes. … He really has primed himself to have a good season.”

 

Norv Turner, offensive coordinator: “He’s becoming an outstanding route runner.”

 

Ron Rivera, head ball coach said Samuel is “light years” ahead of his rookie self: “And now he has taken an even bigger leap. It’s exciting to watch.”

 

In sum, that’s high praise.

 

If Samuel can be the go-to breakout receiver that Carolina was hoping he could be when it picked him in the second round of the 2018 draft, then the Panthers’ offensive outlook should look a whole lot brighter.

 

Cam Newton, armed with a perhaps revamped throwing motion, will have Samuel, McCaffrey, Moore, Hogan, Smith and Greg Olsen in tow as potential pass-catchers. That’s a far more dynamic selection than the Devin Funchess-Kelvin Benjamin pairing from years past.

 

Our first look at the new-and-improved Samuel and his Panthers will come Thursday night when Carolina takes on the Chicago Bears at 8 p.m. ET.

 

NFC WEST

 

SAN FRANCISCO

Hopefully, for Niners fans, this is nothing.

 

The 49ers have been happy with what they’ve seen from No. 2 overall draft pick Nick Bosa, but what transpired Wednesday could change their mood.

 

During 11-on-11 play during practice in Santa Clara, Bosa went down after appearing to hurt his right foot.

 

The good news is that the edge rusher was able to walk off on his own power and didn’t have a noticeable limp, according to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Jennifer Lee Chan.

 

@jenniferleechan

 #49ers DE Nick Bosa slow to get up after a play of 11-on-11s

 

Trainers looking at his right foot.

 

 

@jenniferleechan

 Nick Bosa is headed to the locker room – done for the day. https://twitter.com/jenniferleechan/status/1159171774195462145

 

@jenniferleechan

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was asked about Bosa following practice and doesn’t believe the injury is serious.

 

“I don’t think it’s anything to worry about,” Saleh told reporters.

 

AFC WEST

 

THE RAIDERS

It would be funny, if it weren’t so potentially serious.  WR ANTONIO BROWN may be suffering from frostbite in August in California. Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle tries to figure out what is going on:

 

Although the Raiders have provided little detail about the injury that has sidelined new wide receiver Antonio Brown for most of training camp, reports on the nature of Brown’s ailment have begun to emerge.

 

Brown issued the first hint himself, when he posted pictures on social media last week of what appeared to be a skin issue on the bottom of his feet. On Tuesday, Pro Football Talk reported that Brown has frostbite on his feet after entering a cryotherapy chamber without proper footwear.

 

On Wednesday, NFL Network also reported Brown used a cryogenic chamber without appropriate footwear. ESPN, meanwhile, reported that Brown has “extreme frostbite” on his feet, and that the Raiders have “no timetable” regarding Brown’s return.

 

The Raiders have not specified Brown’s injury. If he is dealing with frostbite, his recovery time likely would depend on the degree of injury, said Dr. Benjamin Ma, a professor of orthopaedic surgery at UCSF and chief of the UCSF Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service.

 

“Frostbite is like a burn to the skin,” Ma said. “A first-degree burn means just the epidermis is injured — it’s hot, it’s painful. Second-degree is you have these blisters. Third-degree burns is when you go down to the subdermal layer and actually lose some of the sensation.

 

“First- and second-degree burns are the most painful. Third- and fourth-degree, you basically don’t feel it, because the nerves are already hurt. But those are the really bad ones.”

 

As revealed in the premiere episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” on Tuesday night, Brown was dealing with his ailment several days before the start of training camp. He participated in the Raiders’ fourth practice of camp last week, running 1-on-1 routes against defensive backs, but left the field early that day and has not practiced since then.

 

 “Hard Knocks” also included a scene with Raiders trainer Rod Martin saying Brown “can’t handle the sharp cuts” running routes.

 

“For (his feet) to be peeling, it may be one of the lower levels,” Ma said. “If it’s still hurting, he won’t be able to kind of make the cuts and the moves he has.”

 

In a 2016 report, the FDA defined whole-body cryotherapy as “‘super-cooling’ of the body for therapeutic purposes.” In whole-body cryotherapy, a person is exposed — usually for 2-4 minutes — to “ultra-low temperatures.” It often is used to improve recovery after workouts, though the FDA in 2016 questioned its ability to treat certain diseases and conditions.

 

On Wednesday, Dr. David Chao, a former NFL team doctor, wrote a column for the San Diego Union-Tribune expressing doubt that Brown developed frostbite from cryotherapy treatment. Chao cited, among other factors, the time it takes to develop frostbite and the appearance of Brown’s feet in the photos Brown posted.

 

Chao wrote that Brown could have had a prior issue; Chao suggests skin maceration (the softening and breaking down of skin after advanced exposure to moisture) in training might have worsened with cryotherapy.

 

“Assuming Brown then used a cryotherapy machine without proper foot protection, in wet socks or with ‘wet’ macerated feet, the cold would conduct against the moisture,” Chao wrote. “It would then freeze the skin only on the moist soles of the outer layer of skin on his feet and not on his toes, tops of his feet or arch.”

 

Brown reportedly saw a foot specialist over the weekend and head coach Jon Gruden said Tuesday that Brown was still “gathering information” on his ailment. Gruden said he had “no new news” on Brown’s status or when the receiver might return to the field.

 

Ma, the UCSF professor, said that in cases of requiring new skin to grow back, recovery time usually “depends on the impact — how big the (affected) area is and where the area is also.”

 

“The nice thing about the bottom of the feet is you have the thickest skin … because that’s where you’re standing and walking all the time,” Ma said. “Even if the first few layers come off there, you can come back quickly.”

 

Nearly two weeks into camp, the extent of Brown’s injury remains unclear. After Wednesday’s practice, quarterback Derek Carr was asked how players are treating the questions surrounding Brown’s absence.

 

“To be completely honest, we haven’t even paid attention to what’s going on,” Carr said. “And that’s usual when anybody’s hurt or dealing with something. You’re like, we miss him, but there is so much we’re worrying about. We don’t get into anybody else’s business. But we miss him. And we can’t wait for him to get back.”

– – –

Rookie S JOHNATHAN ABRAM wants to be known as the next great dirty player:

 

“You strike the fear in some wide receivers.”

 

“You say some like you wouldn’t be scared.”

 

“Who, me? Absolutely not.”

 

“If I lacerate your kidneys or bust your spleen, you wouldn’t be scared?”

 

“Nah.”

 

Things got interesting between Raiders rookie safety Johnathan Abram and Steve Smith Sr. on Wednesday’s edition of Inside Training Camp Live. The retired receiver praised Abram’s playing style while also calling him out for hitting teammates in practice without pads, something Oakland coach Jon Gruden addressed in the season debut of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”

 

“I only know to play the game one way and it’s fast, full speed,” Abram said. “It’s kind of just slowing myself down, just learning the right practice etiquette. That’s just one thing he (Gruden) harps on because he’s here for the safety. He wants to come out of camp healthy with all of our players, so he just has to slow me down at times.”

 

Smith clearly felt like he needed to do the same, explaining that veterans don’t care to hear much out of rookies in training camp. He then asked the zealous newcomer if he’s a talker or a listener.

 

“Some people say I talk too much sometimes, but that’s just me being me,” he said. “It all depends on the setting. When we’re off the field and in a playful setting, I ain’t going to lie, I’m a kid. I like to play, I like to talk, I like to have fun. But when we hit the meeting room, we hit the film, we hit the field, I’m locked in. You can talk to a lot of the older veterans and they’ll tell you, he’s a kid off the field but on the field I’m very mature. You’ve heard some coaches refer to me as a fourth-year, fifth-year guy the way I communicate, the way I go about my business on the field.”

 

For what it’s worth, Smith said he loves what he’s seen on film from the first-round draft pick out of Mississippi State, affectionately labeling Abram a “slobberknocker” for his hitting ability. But as a former wideout who liked to mix it up himself once upon a time, Smith reminded the first-year DB that offensive players can hit defensive players, too.

 

“You’re talking as a lion,” Smith said. “But sometimes what you don’t understand, though, young man, is every lion can become a gazelle.”

 

We’ll see who hits who when Abram and the Raiders make their preseason debut Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams. You know Smith will be watching.

 

AFC NORTH

 

PITTSBURGH

Yesterday, CB JOE HADEN was excited about a nearing extension with the Steelers.  Today, he has an injury.  Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

 

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden suffered an undisclosed injury early during practice Wednesday, but he downplayed the severity.

 

Haden left the session early on a cart, according to Steelers.com, and will not play in Friday’s preseason opener.

 

On Wednesday night, Haden tweeted thanks to fans for their thoughts and prayers and said he’ll be “just fine.”

 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Haden was suffering from “a minor ankle injury.”

 

“Looks like major injury averted,” the post to Schefter’s verified Twitter account read.

 

AFC SOUTH

 

JACKSONVILLE

There is no mind game that CB JALEN RAMSEY won’t try to get inside a receiver’s head.  Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Players use all different tactics to get into opponents’ heads. John Randle famously read the other team’s media guide looking for any and every tidbit he could find to use against opposing offensive linemen on game day.

 

Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, always outspoken, had a more modern way of getting under opposing receivers’ skin in college.

 

“Say I was playing a big receiver at whatever school, I would look up his Instagram and slide in his girlfriend’s DMs before the game,” Ramsey said on the Bussin’ with the Boys podcast with Taylor Lewan and Will Compton, via TMZSports.com. “. . .People get hot about that.”

 

Ramsey, who played at Florida State from 2013-15, wouldn’t name any of the receivers he tried to home-wreck. He abandoned the tactic once he got to the NFL.

 

“I’ll say when I got to the league, though, I stopped that because now people got wives and stuff,” Ramsey said. “Somebody get shot over talking about somebody’s wives.”

 

AFC EAST

 

BUFFALO

Andy Benoit in TheMMQB.com sees some good possibilities for the Bills.

 

Today he analyzes the Buffalo Bills, who finished 6–10 and third in the AFC East last year.

 

Buffalo’s ground game takes off. After restocking their once-futile offensive line with four newcomers—powerful ex-Titan Quinton Spain at left guard, nimble ex-Chief Mitch Morse at center, sneakily athletic ex-Redskin/Jet Spencer Long at right guard and second-round rookie Cody Ford (Oklahoma) at right tackle—the Bills can finally maximize their backfield talent. The running back unit ascends with the additions of sagacious veteran Frank Gore and multidimensional jitterbug Devin Singletary, a third-round pick from Florida Atlantic. Both work in a rotation behind 31-year-old LeSean McCoy, who isn’t quite what he once was but can still change directions well enough to consistently find daylight.

 

With speedy receivers, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll builds on the jet sweep concepts he dabbled in last year, but the ground game’s brightest tactic is the package of run designs involving 237-pound QB Josh Allen, who can do for this ground game what Cam Newton does for Carolina’s.

 

The Bills go deep. Allen’s similarities to Newton show up in his throwing, as well. The second-year QB will never have refined precision accuracy, but he (mostly) compensates with power throws. To highlight this, Buffalo emphasizes deep dropbacks and downfield route combinations, where demands on timing and rhythm are less stringent and completions have large payouts.

 

Robert Foster emerges. The undrafted second-year pro is the best player in a receiving corps comprised predominantly of diminutive speedsters. Foster can not only stretch the field, but also throttle down—an unheralded trait that enables a speed receiver to get separation.

 

Pass rush problems hurt. The Bills are two-deep at every defensive line spot, but their only pure pass rusher is bull-rushing ace Jerry Hughes. That’s a problem in their straightforward zone scheme, which is well-coached but, like any traditional 4-3 zone scheme, dependent on a having a quality four-man rush.

 

Young stars emerge. Most of Football America already appreciated 2017 first-rounder Tre’Davious White, who is a true No. 1 corner. Landing on the radar with White are linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. Edmunds, though still green, builds on the improved play recognition he showed late last year, while Milano continues to show a knack for finishing plays near the ball. Both can cover, especially in zone. They don’t quite remind McDermott of the Luke Kuechly-Thomas Davis tandem he had as the defensive coordinator in Carolina, but they make the coach comfortable with expanding his select third-down disguise and pressure concepts.

 

BOTTOM LINE: The Bills are better but still a year away from being legitimate playoff contenders.

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

Dan Pompei of The Athletic with a long takeout piece on Jets coach Adam Gase.  Excerpts below:

 

In the aftermath of the press conference to introduce the head coach of the New York Jets, Adam Gase’s eyes were more scrutinized than his words.

 

They seemed as big as golf balls, and there wasn’t a lot of blinking going on. He sometimes moved his stare without moving his head.

 

Many found humor in this.

 

Gase and almost everyone close to him did not.

 

Only two people had the gumption to tease him about it.

 

A.J. Gase, 7, and Wyatt Gase, 5, prompted by a family elder who will provide outrageous servings of ice cream even if they don’t finish dinner, approached their father with wide, crossed eyes.

 

“Hey, Dad,” they said. “Now we’re just like you.”

 

Now that was funny.

 

“Nothing’s sacred,” says grinning Joe Vitt, the naughty grandfather who put the boys up to the stunt.

 

Vitt, a salty 40-year coaching veteran and current Jets outside linebackers coach, is also Gase’s father-in-law and one of his most trusted advisors. Vitt and his grandsons can get away with it. But nobody else can.

– – –

To Le’Veon Bell, he’s a “mastermind.” Peyton Manning called him the smartest guy he knows. John Elway, Frank Gore and Albert Wilson used the word “genius” to describe him.

 

“I call him the evil genius,” says quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who played for Gase in Miami and is now with the Titans. “He’s always searching for the perfect play, the perfect scheme, a hole in the defense’s game plan. You should see him work the computer and crunch the numbers on a scouting report. It’s insane how fast he clicks around and does these quickie stats and sorts things. He’s always trying to find patterns that give the offense an advantage.”

 

While studying tape of the Titans last year, Gase picked up on a trend: After achieving a first down on their side of the field, the Titans usually played quarters coverage. He subsequently called for a quarters beater, and the result was a 75-yard touchdown in a Dolphins victory. “There was always something he’d come up with like that, every game,” says Tannehill, who threw the pass.

 

In a game against the Jets, the Dolphins had success with a passing play. “Early the following week after the Jets game, I get a text,” says Dowell Loggains, Gase’s offensive coordinator with the Dolphins and now the Jets. “He had a play drawn up on the board that played off the other play. He said to remind him to call it as soon as we got past the 50. During the game, as soon as I started to remind him, the play was in.”

 

It was a double pass from Gore to Wilson to Jakeem Grant, and it went for a 52-yard touchdown that changed the game against the Raiders.

 

“He’s not afraid to go outside the box,” Loggains says. “He will try things that haven’t been done before.”

 

Gase is not about ceilings or brakes. As a young apprentice to Mike Martz in Detroit and San Francisco, he learned to think without limits and to coach without fear. He was Tim Tebow’s position coach when Tebow led four consecutive come-from-behind victories, then beat the Steelers in the playoffs. Manning hit career highs in passing yards and touchdown passes when Gase was his offensive coordinator. Jay Cutler had the highest passer rating of his career when Gase was his offensive coordinator. Tannehill had his best NFL season in his first year with Gase as head coach, leading the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2016 for the first time in eight seasons.

 

By the time he was 24, Gase had been around Nick Saban for six years at Michigan State and LSU. Gase watched him carefully, and more than anything, he admired the way Saban was able to bring out the best in people around him. Gase’s mission, subsequently has been to make the people around him better.

– – –

In those eyes is something you don’t always find in football coaches — benevolence.

 

On the night of July 3 of last year, Jeremiah Washburn, an assistant on Gase’s Miami staff, was riding his bike on Federal Highway in South Florida when he was run over by a truck. He was rushed to the hospital, where doctors told him he might lose his leg.

 

Gase found out and called Washburn’s wife, Susan. He stayed on the phone with her from 11 p.m. until 2 a.m. as Jeremiah underwent emergency surgery.

 

“The guy is something else,” says Washburn, whose leg was saved.

 

In the first period of a training camp practice in 2017, Tannehill took an awkward step and his knee gave out. He was taken for an MRI as the Dolphins finished practice.

 

As soon as practice ended, Gase left the team and rushed to be with Tannehill and his wife, Lauren, as Ryan had his MRI. “In all my career, I had never seen that before,” says Mike Tannenbaum, the Dolphins’ executive vice president of football operations at the time.

 

Tannehill, who tore his ACL that day, says Gase cared about him like a mother would. “He wanted me to take care of myself and not take hits,” he says. “He’s always trying to build relationships and relate to the players. He does it a lot better than any other coach or coordinator I’ve ever been around going back to high school.”

 

This helps explain why, after Gase was fired, there was a long line of Dolphins employees outside his office. Gase spent the better part of that day saying goodbyes.

 

“Coach (Bill) Parcells, if you knew him through what you saw in the media, you would have one perception of him,” says Tannenbaum, who once worked with Parcells. “But he has an incredibly endearing, nurturing side that he would never let you know about. In that way, he and Adam are similar. Players go through things like breaking up with girlfriends, deaths in the family, having kids, parents getting older. That stuff comes up all the time. Adam was always exceptionally good dealing with those types of things.”

– – –

Behind those eyes is, yes, a maniac.

 

Gase learned to work by watching his father, Art, put in 14-hour days as a foreman for a manufacturing company. Adam has become so much like his dad that he can open Art’s iPhone with Face ID.

 

Gase is most comfortable when he is working. “At night, this is what I do,” he says, pointing to the video monitor in his office. “It’s my hobby, what I love. Game planning, watching film, getting things organized. There’s always something to learn. Fourteen or 16 hours doesn’t seem that long. It goes fast.”

 

Gase is friendly with Lions coach Matt Patricia. When Patricia was in New England and Gase was in Miami, Gase would text him in the middle of the night the week before their teams played. “Still working?” the text would say. “I’m still in the office.”

 

During his years with the Dolphins, Gase lived across the street from Loggains. Sometimes, Loggains would be jostled awake after midnight by his wife, Beth. “Adam’s at the door,” she would say.

 

Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills told Gase to stop texting him post-midnight because he kept waking him up.

 

“You would get these texts from him until 4 in the morning on a regular basis,” says Tannenbaum, now an ESPN analyst. “I don’t think he sleeps a lot.”

 

Fueled by five or six 20-ounce cups a day from the Kuerig coffee maker that is an arm’s length from his desk, and maybe a Red Bull here or there, Gase has energy like a power plant. And it doesn’t wane in the wee hours.

 

There is no window in his office to make him aware of the black of the night or the first light of day.

 

His wife, Jennifer, says he typically gets home at 2 a.m. and goes back to work at 6.  When she travels with him to road games, she gets a separate room because he’s up most of the night watching tape.

 

He often resists taking days off even when nothing is happening, but when he does, he catches up on sleep. Jennifer says he sometimes sleeps 24 straight hours.

– – –

Gase is not likely to prepare a meal on his own. When Jennifer recently left him home alone to dog sit for a day, he texted and asked her to order him lunch from Uber Eats.

 

Jennifer is an ideal fit for him — the daughter of a football coach whose perception of normal may be slightly askew. “I love that he loves what he does,” she says. “He coaches, and I take care of everything else.”

 

He says he’s like her fourth kid. But no kid is as organized.

 

His office has a back closet full of binders with handwritten notes — one for every game he’s coached. He also has taken over three closets in his new house for binders.

 

Says Jennifer: “Thank God this new house has more space. In Fort Lauderdale, we had no basement and limited closet space, so we had the notebooks in storage. He has everything lined up in perfect order. He’s kind of OCD.”

 

On his computer, he has a file for every day he has been a coach. In each file is what he did that day and how it worked out. There also is a file for every opponent for every year. And then he has a master folder for each year, which keeps track of needed adjustments.

 

The file for Oct. 1, 2013, is particularly interesting. Every Tuesday when he was in Denver, Gase met with Manning at 2 p.m. Except this Tuesday, when Jennifer was delivering Wyatt by caesarean section.

 

Gase told his wife to schedule the operation for 10 a.m. “So they pulled the baby out of me and said, ‘It’s a boy,’” Jennifer says. “They didn’t even put my organs back and sew me up before he’s like, ‘You good?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m good.’” He said, ‘All right then, I’m out.’  They said, ‘You want to cut the umbilical cord?’ He said, ‘No, I’m good.’”

 

At 2 p.m., Manning was stunned to find Gase waiting for him in the meeting room.

 

Manning: “You’ve got to be kidding me. Didn’t your wife just have a baby two hours ago?”

 

Gase: “Yeah, but did you really think I was going to let you win this one?”

 

Those eyes have a vision for these Jets.

 

The vision is shared with Johnson, with whom Gase interacts nearly daily, even if it’s through FaceTime. “He is a great guy to talk to,” Gase says. “I love his passion to win, and he loves this organization and our players. He wants to win for the Jets fan base, the city and his family. Everybody in the building loves him.”

 

Mike Maccagnan apparently had a different vision. He was fired by Johnson in May. Many assumed Gase played a role in the general manager’s May dismissal, but Gase consistently has denied this.

 

“You want to be with somebody you have similar visions with,” Gase says. “I think our owners saw that wasn’t the case. We had plenty of meetings where Chris sat in and it was an open conversation. And I think there was more to it before I was here.”

 

Johnson didn’t give Gase authority over personnel — which Gase says he never sought — but did give him the general manager he endorsed in Joe Douglas. Gase and Douglas met when both worked for the Bears in 2015, and their relationship played out, unsurprisingly, with many late-night conversations and texts.

 

Gase says Douglas sees things as a coach would. Douglas says Gase sees things as a scout would.

 

“We have similar view points on roster building and what it takes to be successful,” Douglas says. “We have talked a lot about the whys, what makes great players great, and what makes great teams great. Those are the types of conversations we had.”

 

Gase has the organization set up the way he wants it, including the coaching staff. Coordinating the defense is Gregg Williams, who typically raises the intensity of practices to “Hunger Games” levels.

 

Williams and Gase go at it on the practice fields, but Gase says there is no tension between them. “Nobody sees how many times Gregg Williams and I walk into each other’s offices and just bullshit,” he says. “Gregg’s been awesome for me because I don’t have to worry about the defense. Nothing gets to me, because he handles it. I love it.”

 

Gase believes Williams will help second-year quarterback Sam Darnold develop because he presents so many looks and challenges to Darnold during practices.

 

Gase never has worked with a young quarterback with Darnold’s pedigree. He never thought he’d be working with Darnold, either. Even though the Dolphins needed a quarterback last season, Gase didn’t study Darnold because he believed he would be long gone by the Dolphins’ 11th pick. He was right — Darnold went third to the Jets.

 

Now Gase understands why.

 

“I don’t see a limit right now,” he says. “His arm is phenomenal, especially with his ability to throw from very unusual platforms, where he’s not aligned. I love the way he works out on the field, in the classroom. He goes out with a purpose every day to get better. Every time you can be around a guy like that as a coach, you just savor it.”