Adam Gase describes how Peyton challenged him to become a better coach

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Sunday January 08, 2017


Photo credit: USA Today Sports Images

People used to say Peyton Manning was a coach on the field when he was a player. That was literally the case for Adam Gase.

Gase was the Broncos quarterback coach for Manning in 2012 and then offensive coordinator from 2013-14. Now the Dolphins head coach, Gase joined The MMQB’s podcast and explained what it’s actually like to coach Manning.

What Gase learned quickly was that you’d better have an answer when Manning has a question.

“The detail of everything he ever did. I’ve never been around somebody that was so into every little thing that was going around the entire building,” Gase said. “It didn’t matter what your job was, he wanted to know what you were doing, how you did it. He was so inquisitive about al those things.

“But going to the football side, he always wanted answers. If he had a question and you didn’t have an answer for him, that was an issue. He asked the right questions and would demand so much of you as a coach to make sure you’re ready. When he asks a question, there’s no wasted time. You had to know what was going on. So as a coach, he made you better, because you have to prepare to be ready to go for your meeting with him, because you knew something was going to come up. He was going to ask you a question, and if you didn’t have the answer, he wasn’t going to let you forget about it.”

For example, Gase spent the entire summer of 2012 studying protections, before Manning’s first training camp. He had to figure out how to handle every situation. That work as a QB coach prepared him to be a coordinator.

“He was so detailed in, ‘How do we block this? What if this happens? What do we do with this look?’” Gase said. “I studied a lot over the summer and got caught up to something I wasn’t used to. We grew together. A couple things we started doing, he hadn’t done before, he liked, because he wanted to challenge himself and do something he hadn’t been a part of before. We always tried to find new things to keep him involved and engaged and explore how far we could take that offense?”

For Gase, it went to another level when he was promoted to offensive coordinator. He still calls plays as Dolphins head coach, and has them in the playoffs in his first season. He also still has a long collection of voice memos Manning would send about ideas and questions.

Gase was never a high-level player. He was a student assistant for Nick Saban at Michigan State. But Manning helped him learn to see the game like a player.

“He challenged me as a play-caller,” Gase said. “For two years we did that in 2013-14, he always said, ‘You have to see the game the way I do.’ I’m going, ‘I never played quarterback before, and I’m standing on the sideline and you’re playing.’ He’d say, ‘I got it, but you can do this.’ He always challenged me where we were always trying to play off each other. He wanted me to see the defense the way he was seeing it.

“That was awesome for me, because it put a lot of pressure on my to make sure I was on it within a game. What I try to do is give Ryan (Tannehill) some of the things I’ve learned over time with different people. With Peyton, it’s hard to duplicate anything he’s done.”

Gase’s Dolphins face the Steelers at 1 p.m. ET today, and they'll do it with a backup quarterback.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.