Weddle: Gase's adjustments helping Tannehill, Dolphins succeed

BALTIMORE -- Eric Weddle will line up at safety Sunday afternoon for the Ravens and face a quarterback coached by Adam Gase, which is nothing new for Weddle because he's been doing it every year, up to three times per season, since Gase became the Broncos' quarterbacks coach in 2011.

Given Gase's past success working with everyone from Tim Tebow to Kyle Orton to Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler, Weddle isn't surprised Gase has helped Ryan Tannehill show signs of reaching the untapped potential many weren't sure he had.

How has Gase done it? By simplifying things for Tannehill and by not asking him to be Manning -- at least not yet.

"He took out the no-huddle and the check at the line, check to different plays. That's a tough offense to do," Weddle told last week as he and his Baltimore teammates prepared for Sunday's game against the Dolphins that has huge AFC playoff implications. "There's a reason why Philip (Rivers), Peyton (Manning) and very few other guys can run that style of offense. Mentally, it's on a whole other level."

Gase and the Dolphins' coaching staff began this season by putting a lot of trust in Tannehill to run that style of offense and make the kind of checks at the line Manning made over his 18 seasons in the league. When Manning and Gase put their brains together, they were unstoppable at times.

Since Gase arrived in Miami as the Dolphins head coach this offseason, he's made it clear he has the utmost faith in Tannehill to be a successful quarterback in the league. He's rarely said a negative word about his quarterback and has sharply criticized those who knock the 2012 first-round pick by saying he doesn't have the skills to play at the NFL level. Naturally, Gase wanted to show the same kind of confidence in Tannehill when it came to installing the offense.

But the first quarter-plus of this season showed Gase that Tannehill and the offense weren't as advanced in the complexities of the scheme as Gase would've liked. So Gase decided to scale things back and have his offensive players thinking less at the line.

Tannehill's stats (six touchdowns to seven interceptions during Miami's 1-4 start; nine TDs and only one interception over their current six-game winning streak) show that was a wise decision by the rookie coach.

"They huddle up, they drop back, they check a little here and there, but they're going to run what they run, make it simple, make his reads simple. That's why they're winning," Weddle said. "They're not making mistakes, he's not trying to check to different calls, different plays, figuring out what coverages the defense is running. He's just getting up there and running what they're running."

Weddle credited Gase for making outstanding in-season adjustments. Gase credited Weddle, the former Charger who even faced Gase last year when he was the Bears' offensive coordinator, with his knowledge of what the Dolphins are doing.

"Yeah, that's why Eric is who he is. He knows this offense probably as well as anyone outside this building," Gase said. "Really, it came down to just trying to make sure all of us were on the same page. We were having some issues early. It was one guy here and there. We'd have an issue with the play we called and we felt like maybe we just needed to rein it in a little bit and let everybody be on the same page."

There will be a time when Gase asks Tannehill and the rest of his offense to expand their repertoire once again, likely after another offseason to work through the intricacies of the scheme. For now, Gase likes how the more simplistic approach has worked.

"It made things a little easier than just running up to the ball and trying to get the perfect play. We weren't there yet," Gase said. "It's a lot on the quarterback's plate. It's a lot on the receivers' plate as well, as far as knowing every little detail of every concept we're running."

Lest anyone misconstrue Gase's simplified approach as a sign he doesn't trust Tannehill, the truth is he actually has a lot of faith in his quarterback. Since this spring, Gase has encouraged Tannehill to make and extend plays with his legs. Tannehill has done just that, and perhaps the best example was a play that actually got overturned last week against the 49ers. Tannehill scrambled to his left and threw across his body for what would've been a 32-yard completion to DeVante Parker had Parker's hand not come down out of bounds before his second foot.

"We made a bigger point of emphasis on him not waiting around for progressions and encouraging him to, if what he's not looking for is there, create something," Gase said. "We feel we have the right skill guys to kind of play street ball with him and go make plays. There have been a few times where I'm kind of, 'No, no, no,' and then he makes a play.

"He seems to make the right decision and we have a lot of trust in him as far as what he's doing with the ball."

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