The maddening world of Adam Gase requires pivoting at a moment’s notice, learning to cope with fickleness and resigning yourself to an ever-changing reality.
Consider the curious cases of Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson, who were in Gase’s line of fire when he was in charge in Miami.
Parker is flourishing in his fifth season, a top threat who already has career-highs in receiving yards (854) and touchdowns (six) entering Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium. He’s been more productive in the past three months than he was in three seasons with Gase.
A Miami Herald report this week cited that Gase lost confidence in Parker, because he didn’t think the wideout could fully grasp his offense. The Jets head coach disagreed with the report Thursday.
“No… Not that I recall,” Gase said about whether Parker’s inability to understand the offense was an issue. “He played the X (position). That’s like the easiest position to play.”
However, history suggests there’s veracity to the report. Parker, in fact, wasn’t the only player that drew Gase’s ire for not being adept at understanding his playbook.
Sources told the Daily News that Gase felt the same way about Wilson not long after the Dolphins signed him to a three-year, $24 million deal in free agency before the 2018 season. Gase’s fallout with Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry landed him a one-way ticket to Cleveland and created a void at slot receiver. Gase told the Miami brain trust that he would be fine if the team signed Danny Amendola or Wilson. He had no preference.
When Miami agreed to terms on a deal with Wilson, Gase bristled and whined (even though he had earlier claimed that Amendola or Wilson would suffice), according to sources.
So, the Dolphins quickly pivoted and signed Amendola (to a two-year, $12 million deal) too. On the surface, it was a peculiar decision to sign two slot receivers in free agency. It turns out that only happened to appease the fickle head coach.
To complicate matters, Gase quickly became frustrated at Wilson because he felt that the player couldn’t fully grasp his offense. Sound familiar?
In fact, Gase demanded that the Dolphins trade Wilson in the spring/summer before he had ever played a single game for him, according to sources. When team brass told him that it wasn’t going to happen, he tried to make do with Wilson. The player and coach ultimately developed a solid relationship during their lone season together, a connection that would have never occurred if the impetuous coach got his way in the summer.
On the other hand, Parker never got on firm footing with Gase, who wanted to trade the receiver last season, sources said.
The low point came after a Week 7 loss to the Lions. Gase’s decision not to activate Parker, who was fully recovered from a quad injury, prompted the player’s agent, Jimmy Gould, to lash out at the coach: “Coach Gase is incompetent — period — and not telling the truth when it comes to DeVante, who is totally healthy and was needed big-time today. This is the third game he has done this to DeVante this year. It’s sickening and a grossly unfair characterization of my client.”
Gase claimed that Parker, who had played the previous week, wasn’t fully healthy… but added that he was inactive because of a coach’s decision. It was vintage Gase, talking out of (at least) two sides of his mouth.
“What a horrific decision by Coach Gase,” Gould said at the time. “He needs to take a very long look in the mirror and make himself inactive.”
The Dolphins placed their faith in the former first-rounder after Gase was fired by signing him to a two-year, $10 million deal in the offseason. It turned out to be a master stroke. Parker has as many touchdowns in 12 games with new head coach Brian Flores than he did in 39 games with Gase. He averaged just 46 receptions for 574 yards in three seasons with Gase.
“With DeVante, it was more of the injuries than anything,” Gase said Thursday. “In 2017, I really thought that was going to be the year where it looked like it was going to be a really good year for him. He had a really good training camp. Even after the quarterback change that we had when Ryan (Tannehill) went down. Cutler came in and they were hooking up pretty good. Then… the third and fourth game, he got hurt and we lost him for a while. Then he was trying to come back and he just wasn’t right.”
“In 2018, it was the same thing,” Gase said. “He got hurt so early. Then it didn’t work out. This is probably the first year where he’s been healthy for a long period of time.”