DAVIE — Adam Gase secured Peyton Manning's respect and put Jay Cutler's career, at least temporarily, back on the proper course. Now he is in South Florida and the stakes are higher than ever for him when it comes to making things work with a quarterback.
The success of his first NFL head coaching job very well could hinge on his ability to transform Ryan Tannehill into a winning quarterback for the Dolphins.
"What happens in this league is the quarterback gets the credit or gets the blame," Gase said Wednesday at training camp. "If you don't make the playoffs, that's the guy that you're gonna talk about. What we need to do as a team is — and this is including him — win games. You need to find a way to get to that next step. We're starting our new process right now. When Week 1 hits, we'll see where it goes from there. But we've just got to work on making a steady climb."
The final record never has been an endorsement of Tannehill's value to the franchise. In four seasons since selecting him with the eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft, then immediately installing him as their starter, the Dolphins have yet to reach the playoffs. They've yet to have even a winning season, topping out at 8-8 in 2013 and 2014 before 6-10 last season.
Other numbers are kinder to Tannehill.
He has 15,460 passing yards through four seasons, a figure that, as Gase volunteers, puts him on the heels of the first-four-season passing-yardage outputs of Manning (16,418) and Dan Marino (16,177).
The Dolphins also showed their confidence in Tannehill in dollars, signing him last year to a four-year, $77 million extension that, combined with the seasons remaining on his previous deal, made for a six-year contract worth about $96 million.
"I mean, the guy has thrown for 15,000 yards," Gase said. "There are only two guys that have ever done it. … So I look at that and say all right, here's a guy that is almost close to getting over the hump there a couple times where they almost made the playoffs. … Obviously it's the same thing it is with every team: Your quarterback gets all the blame when you lose and he gets too much credit when you win. But that's the position."
Gase, 38, has the quarterback-assisting resume to believe he might be able to make this work. As offensive coordinator in Denver, he crafted a smooth working relationship with Manning, even though Manning is older than him and famously set in his ways. Last season in Chicago, Gase helped the so-often-maligned Cutler to have a credibility-restoring season.
THURSDAY'S GAMES: Mark Sanchez made a strong opening argument for the Broncos' starting quarterback job, throwing for 99 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter in a 22-0 win over the host Bears 22-0. Sanchez came through with the sort of performance he needed if he's going to beat out Trevor Siemian, who was 7 of 12 for 88 yards in the second quarter. … Blake Bortles led the visiting Jaguars on two scoring drives, the second capped by Chris Ivory's 1-yard run against his former team, in a 17-13 loss to the Jets. … Jimmy Garoppolo made his preseason debut, spreading the ball around for 168 yards, and Jamie Collins added a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown as the host Patriots beat the Saints 34-22. Garoppolo played the entire first half as he preps to start the first four games of the regular season in place of Tom Brady, who will be serving a suspension. Brady was not with the team, excused to attend memorial services for a family member. … Matt Schaub passed for 179 yards, leading three scoring drives, and the host Falcons beat the Redskins 23-17.
BILLS: Safety Aaron Williams and receiver Dez Lewis were injured after a hard collision during practice. Williams is being treated for a possible concussion, the team said. There was no update on Lewis.
CHARGERS: Receiver Stevie Johnson will miss the season with a knee injury, coach Mike McCoy confirmed.