Manning Up: How Peyton Manning’s Visit Could Pay Dividends for the Miami Dolphins
On Monday, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that Peyton Manning visited the Miami Dolphins in order to meet Ryan Tannehill. The impromptu visit between the quarterbacks was brief, and media coverage predictably was kept to a minimum. However, it is easy to see that Ryan Tannehill believes that he benefited from his visit with the 5-time NFL MVP. Tannehill said of the meeting: “A guy that had his career, the living legend he is, coming off a Super Bowl winning season — it was really cool just to be able to sit and pick his brain about things he’s done in this offense and football things in general.” The odds are that their conversation was no more than a few minutes, and I’m not going to pretend that this will turn Ryan Tannehill into Dan Marino. Adam Gase has since even downplayed the meeting as having been very short, noting that the media blew it out of proportion. Regardless, there are some interesting elements to the young quarterback’s meeting with The Sheriff.
What it Means for Ryan Tannehill:
The richest reward that Ryan Tannehill likely benefited from in his brief session with Peyton Manning was the slight head start he received on learning the nuances and intricacies of Coach Gase’s offense. Adam Gase runs one of the most complicated offensive schemes in the NFL, so getting his new quarterback up to speed is undoubtedly of paramount importance. However, the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement strictly prohibits coaches from talking about football with their players when they are not in designated time for camps; thus new coaching staffs like Gase’s are at a distinct disadvantage in regard to implementing their schemes. Luckily for the Dolphins, Peyton Manning is not someone that the collective bargaining agreement applies to now that he has officially retired. So, Manning was able to discuss specifics of the offense with Tannehill. Considering that Manning ran Adam Gase’s offense with record breaking success throughout the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and he knows the offense as well as Gase does himself, I can think of nobody better to give Ryan Tannehill a quick crash course. Hopefully this tutoring session enhances the oft-inconsistent quarterback’s confidence in learning his new coach’s playbook, even if the meeting was brief.
I can only imagine the positive impact that a meeting, regardless of its length, with an all-time great like Peyton Manning can have on a young quarterback. An 18 year veteran like Manning has so much to teach, and he finally might not be holding his tricks of the trade so close to his vest now that he is no longer playing football professionally. From the quickest way to diagnose the Mike linebacker to how to handle adversity in front of the press, any advice on quarterbacking could be valuable for Tannehill’s development both as a quarterback and as a professional going forward. Manning is a strong role model for quarterbacks, and it certainly seems that Ryan Tannehill agrees: “He is something I aspire to be, as good or better as he is one day. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get him to come around some more.” Simply being around the future Hall-of-Famer is beneficial, let alone having him at your disposal to answer questions.
What it Means for Adam Gase:
Peyton Manning played in the NFL for 18 seasons under five head coaches, five offensive coordinators, and a number of notable quarterbacks coaches. He could have visited former head coaches Jim Caldwell of the Detroit Lions, John Fox of the Chicago Bears, or Gary Kubiak of the Denver Broncos. He could have made a trip out to Arizona to see Bruce Arians and Tom Moore, who were Manning’s first NFL quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator respectively. He could have even stuck around in Indianapolis to visit his heir apparent, Andrew Luck. Instead, he went out of his way to visit a coach that he has only known for three years, doing him a pretty significant favor without even being asked to do so. While Manning was reportedly already in Miami for business, he travels all over the country for various meetings. The man never sits still. While in town, he still opted make the drive from downtown Miami to Davie in order to stop in and see his former coordinator. The media noticed it, and you can bet respected players and assistants noticed it too. The presence of a figure such as Peyton Manning only solidifies Adam Gase’s place within both the Miami Dolphins organization and in the world of professional football.
For a first year head coach, who is the youngest in the league no less, to have a legend like Peyton Manning as a resource is incredibly valuable. Their friendship, which is reportedly quite close, speaks volumes about Gase’s character both inside and outside of the world of football. Manning, among countless others, has always spoken extremely highly of his former offensive coordinator’s football acumen, and it is unsurprising that the two developed a friendship off of the field. Additionally, the fact that the Sheriff would personally come and introduce himself to Gase’s quarterback further enhances the respect that the two clearly hold for one another. This will undoubtedly help players buy into his message. When they see one of the greatest QBs in league history simply visiting because he felt like it, it sends a strong message about what Gase means to everyone who plays for him.
What it Means for the Miami Dolphins:
Having Peyton Manning around boosts morale and brings positive attention to an organization that could certainly use it. The outside view of the current Miami Dolphins football team ranges from a perpetually mediocre team to a team that’s one more locker room mishap away from becoming a complete laughingstock. Personally, I think that Adam Gase, and everything that he has brought and should continue to bring to the table, will turn this franchise’s fortunes around sooner than many would think. Recent moves like signing locker room leader Cameron Wake to a contract extension and bringing in free agent QBs coach Peyton Manning for an afternoon are great for appearance, and could pay off down the line. One remote possibility, and I do mean remote, is bringing Peyton Manning in as a coach in the future.
I know it sounds way too good to be true, but it could actually be in the cards after Peyton Manning takes a year off during his retirement. Most analysts believe that Manning will eventually opt to work in television or in a front office setting, but I think that coaching more accurately fits his competitive nature. So, even if he does decide to coach, what would compel him to choose the Dolphins? Well, as his recent visit shows, there isn’t a coaching staff in the NFL that Manning is more connected to than Adam Gase’s. Outside of Gase, who Manning is obviously very close with, the Dolphins also employ offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen. Christensen served as one of the Indianapolis Colts’ positional coaches since Peyton Manning was drafted there, and was his offensive coordinator for his last several years playing at Lucas Oil Stadium. Between Gase and Christensen, Manning has over 15 years of professional experience working with the Dolphins’ offensive coaching staff. It would make a great deal of sense for Manning to get his career as an NFL coach started as a quarterbacks coach or an assistant head coach in Miami if that’s the path he decides to follow. His comfort with the system, close friendships within the staff, and the ever-so-important lack of a state income tax would make Miami one of the top destinations for The Sheriff if and when he decides to coach in the near future (those endorsements could get much sweeter when Uncle Sam isn’t in the picture). I’m not sure if anyone would ever create a jersey for a coach, but if this miracle occurs, expect me to be the first to buy one.