For Adam Gase in the Words of Don Shula

Adam Gase has serious potential as an NFL head coach, but he must learn from his mistakes. Coaching in this league is a tenuous profession where success is fleeting and failure is one poor decision away. There are certain obvious keys to success and most great coaches have field generals that are an extension of themselves.

Don Shula once said, "People you're responsible for are always looking at you. You want to make sure that all the vibes you give off, all the examples you set, are good ones. You want to be living the life you're talking about."

That same vibe happens with the field general, the quarterback of the football team and extends to the players around him. If the field general has an unemotional almost detached vibe on the football field, by extension, the players around him will emulate that vibe.

“The most important thing you can do, is be credible. That's something you always have to weigh, the credibility part."

If coach Gase sees Jay Cutler as the best extension of himself on the field, but Cutler makes critical mistakes, then Gase loses credibility.

It’s a fine line as Shula pointed out, “Too often coaches want to do the popular thing with the players. Sometimes, though, that's not the best thing you can do.”

So how does Adam Gase overcome this contradiction? What’s popular with the players or the fans may not be right, but at the same time, how does a leader recognize when he’s making a mistake.

It’s tough to be a leader, it’s tough to be a man. The toughest thing for a leader to do, is step back and be critical of his own decisions and realize his own mistakes or shortcomings.

Shula said, “The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others.”

Adam Gase thought he could turn Jay Cutler into something he is not, a good quarterback. “Luck means a lot in football. Not having a good quarterback is bad luck.”

Shula knew that because he understood winning in the NFL is overwhelmingly predicated by the play at one position, QB. Shula averaged over 10 wins in 33 seasons for three reasons, Unitas, Griese and Marino.

Cutler and Tannehill have won 10 games 3 times in 18 combined seasons.

“The ultimate goal is victory. And if you refuse to work as hard as you possibly can toward that aim, or if you do anything that keeps you from achieving that goal, then you are just cheating yourself.” Well coach Gase, trying to make winners out of losers might qualify as cheating yourself.

There is nothing wrong with confidence, “Leadership implies movement toward something, and convictions provide that direction.” The goal is winning.

Sometimes coaches get caught up in the fantasy of football, where stats become more important than victories. “What coaching is all about, is taking players and analyzing their ability, put them in a position where they can excel within the framework of the team winning.”

The theme that reverberates through all of these Shula quotes is winning and that’s where tangible abilities meet intangible results. A quarterback can throw the ball a hundred miles, run faster, jump higher and even sometimes be smarter than his competitor and still lose, why? Is it innate?

“I have no magic formula. The only way I know to win is through hard work.”

Well even hard work for a player does not always lead to victories because there’s an intangible that comes with the quarterback position. It’s called leadership.

“Lots of leaders want to be popular. I never cared about that. I want to be respected.”

Many pundits point out that football is a team game and a single position cannot determine victory or defeat. It’s absolutely true except for one flaw, leadership…

Leadership on the field… Bob Griese did not throw it a mile, he did not run very fast, he was not very tall. Yet he bought into the concept of "over learning."

That's Shula’s term, “to emphasize how important it is to not only know what your assignment is, but the assignments of everyone around you and why you are being asked to do what you are asked to do.”

Field generals, don’t bumble and fumble around in critical moments because they have "over learned." They can see the situation with clarity because the plays and defenses are second nature from previous study.

Now they can go about the art of winning. These are the qualities of winners and though much of these rantings imply that perhaps winning can be learned, the truth is, the will to win is the most important gift of all.

Gift... A natural ability or talent.

“When you're there, it's not good enough to be there.” The NFL is the pinnacle of tackle football, but getting to the National Football League is not the highest point, winning once you get there is what determines greatness. There’s a peculiar thing about winners, whether it’s ping pong, horse shoes or football, they win.

Adam Gase can teach his offense, he can instill his philosophies, he can “demand perfection and hope for excellence,” but he can’t teach winning. He needs to go find winners and then teach them his
philosophies, that’s the key.

Don Shula had to make those decisions, “deciding at cut-down date what the final roster would be. Everyone would give their opinion, and very often character would enter into whether we kept a guy or not."

So there’s a bottom line to all this drivel, Jay Cutler and Ryan Tannehill have never been winners. Don Shula knew one when he saw one, he filled his teams with them, winners.

Cutler and Tannehill are incredibly talented men, they learn well, they have all the tangibles any coach could ask for. They don’t win, it’s not an indictment on their abilities, it’s not a knock on who they are or a questioning of their character. They both are really good people, they just don’t lead teams to victory more often then they lead them to defeat.

The quarterback position is not about fantasy stats...

Terry Bradshaw threw as many interceptions as he threw touchdowns, but in the end, he won. Adam Gase, please take a peek at history… Great coaches and great QBs together, create winners. Find a winner and mold him, follow the great man’s footsteps.

“If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.”