The Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks haven't played each other since the 2012 season, but first-year Dolphins head coach Adam Gase is plenty familiar with the Seahawks, having faced them as the Broncos offensive coordinator in Super Bowl XLVIII, then again in 2014 with Denver and in 2015 as the Bears offensive coordinator. And whether it's the play of quarterback Russell Wilson or of Seattle's defense, Gase has been impressed by the play of the team he'll face Sunday, which leads off five things we learned from the Dolphins coach in his conference call with the Seattle-area media.
1. In Wilson, Gase sees a quarterback who "really understands the why of everything."
Wilson was a very good quarterback when he played the Broncos in 2013 and 2014, but when Gase studies the way Seattle's offense functioned last season, particularly late in the year, he sees that the Dolphins will be facing an even better quarterback on Sunday.
"Obviously when you play as much as he has, every year, you can see it becomes not only the typical things that quarterbacks usually do well in the NFL as far as throwing and moving and starting to understand concepts," Gase said. "You can see that he is really in that stage of his career where he really understands the why of everything and he's so decisive now. He plays with no grey. You can tell he has the offense down to a T and he's able to go out there, play fast, he doesn't think. He reacts and the ball comes out so quick and he has been so accurate, especially last year, and now obviously it's only going to get better as time goes on. A guy that his skill set, his talent and his mind, I think we're going to see this guy keep getting better."
2. Seattle's defense is good at taking away what an offense wants to do.
When asked about facing the Seahawks defense, Gase outlined what for him as a play-caller were some tough games against Seattle, particularly a 43-8 loss to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. The common themes, he said, are the attention to detail and how well the defense plays together as a group.
"The thing I've noticed the most as far as playing these guys is you can see the detail of what they do, and there's such a perfection there," Gase said. "They really understand not only what they're doing, but they can key on what you're doing on offense. Like what I was just saying with the quarterback, these guys have been together, that core has been together for so long. They've done such a good job with putting it together initially as far as what their scheme was, now they perfect it, and now when you try to run certain concepts against them, they take it away. They bait you into throwing things because they know everything so well, you think something is open then they take it away."
3. The Dolphins are traveling early.
While the Seahawks often travel on Friday, especially for longer trips, the Dolphins are leaving even earlier for their cross-country trip, flying to Seattle on Thursday. Gase said with this long trip coming in the opener, it was feasible to alter their travel schedule to give players more time to adjust.
"Just kind of some of the research that we did with guys in other sports, as far as guys going from East coast to West coast," he said. "With this being the first game of the year we were actually able to do it, and we felt like if we could get out there a day earlier than we normally do, we felt like we had a chance to get our guys out and practice, but we could use that Thursday as a travel day. We're able to do a short meeting on Thursday, jump on the plane, get there. We're going to do one thing so we can get guys kind of moving around a little bit, then practice Friday and Saturday do our walk-through. We just wanted to try to give our guys the best chance they could to feel as good as they could heading into Sunday."
4. Gase is learning about the extra stuff that comes with being a head coach.
After a successful career as an assistant, the 38-year-old Gase earned his first head-coaching job this offseason, and while he feels well prepared for the football aspects of the job, he's learning what most first-year head coaches experience, which is that there's more to the job than just football when you're the man in charge.
"I think the only thing that has been really different for me so far is just some of the things that comes across your desk that you always heard other guys say—I think it was Coach Fox, he would always tell me the last two years that there's going to be some stuff that comes up that you're not going to want to deal with but there's nobody else to go to," Gase said. "I remember when I was with Josh McDaniels in Denver in 2009, 2010, that was something that he also said to me, 'You never realize until you get into this seat, some of the things that you have to deal with,' and it's no different here. You end up working with some people or having to deal with issues that may not be directly related to players or coaches, it's more organizational things that you have to take care of… It's just those little tiny things that come up and then all the sudden you have five 20 minute discussions, then you're looking up at the clock like where did the time go. I think that's what gets you a little bit and you get out of the flow of what you were doing."
5. Miami's talented defensive line is still a "work in progress."
The Dolphins have a lot of big names along their defensive line, including former No. 1 overall pick and four-time Pro-Bowler Mario Williams, four-time Pro-Bowler Cameron Wake and four-time first-team All-Pro and Pro-Bowler Ndamukong Suh. But with Williams being new to the team, and with Wake coming off of an Achilles injury, that star-studded line is still coming together.
"I think we're still a work in progress," Gase said. "We feel good about our guys, obviously, we got a couple veterans out there, but for us it's more about chemistry. We haven't played a ton of games together quite yet, we were really limited as far as what we did in the preseason. We practiced together but at the same time, Cam (Cameron Wake) was still kind of coming back so we weren't doing a ton with him in the offseason, then in training camp we were trying to make sure we were smart with him, so I think for us as far as that group chemistry goes, we are going to be evolving throughout the season. I think the more guys play together, the better that group will get."
The Seattle Seahawks have faced the Miami Dolphins 15 times dating back to 1977, going 4-8 in the regular season and 1-2 in the postseason. They'll look to add another win this Sunday, October 4 at 10 a.m. PT at Hard Rock Stadium.