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The Adam Gase Effect

You may know Adam Gase from the five years he spent as an NFL head coach with the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, going 32-48 with one playoff loss during his half-decade in charge.

But you may not know about THE ADAM GASE EFFECT.

The 43-year-old built a reputation as an offensive mastermind during his two years as the Denver Broncos’ offensive coordinator in the Peyton Manning era in 2013 and 2014. But during his five-year head coaching run from 2016-2020, his offenses finished 17th, 28th, 26th, 31st, and 32nd in the league in points scored.

“You remember the sentiment around the Game of Thrones finale? That’s how Gase is viewed in the fantasy community.”

That’s the opinion of JJ Zachariason, the editor-in-chief of FanDuel and NumberFire, and host of “The Late-Round Podcast.” He’s among the many fantasy football experts who weren’t the fondest of Gase’s work.

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Gase’s offenses finished No. 1 in points during the 2013 season that ended in a Super Bowl loss to Seattle and second during the 2014 season that ended in a divisional round loss to Indianapolis. After a 6-10 campaign running the Bears’ offense, Gase was given the Dolphins job and immediately went 10-6, making the postseason with young Ryan Tannehill under center.

Two sub-.500 seasons later, Gase was out as Dolphins head coach and Tannehill was jettisoned to Tennessee. In a completely baffling move, the Jets hired him after the 2018 season to replace Todd Bowles. His inexplicable eyes quickly broke the internet during his introductory press conference. Ultimately, Gase was canned after a 2-14 season in 2020.

Zachariason remembers looking at Miami’s goal-line data during Gase’s tenure and seeing that it barely ran any goal line plays.

“Like, they just didn’t exist,” he told Boardroom. “It’s just clear that his offenses without Peyton Manning were bad.”

“That stat really drove things home for me,” he continued. “His offenses just weren’t effective. The lack of goal-line work was a reflection of the offense’s inability to move the ball down the field. Eight goal-line rushes in two years!”

Then, a trend began to emerge. Tannehill never threw more than 30 touchdowns in a season, and initially went to the Titans in 2019 to back up Marcus Mariota. Inserted as the starter after six games in what turned out to be 10 starts, Tannehill had 22 touchdowns and six interceptions, going 7-3 and helping lead Tennessee to a shocking AFC title game berth. That run included a win at New England in what would ultimately be Tom Brady’s final game as a Patriot.

Then in 2020, Tannehill went 11-5 with Tennessee, throwing 33 TDs against just seven picks.

“He was nothing but replacement-level under Gase, but since going to Tennessee, he’s been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league,” Zachariason said.

He noted that over the last two seasons, only six quarterbacks averaged more fantasy points per game than post-Gase Tannehill. Of those six QBs, only Lamar Jackson averaged over one fantasy point per game more than the newly-minted Titans Pro Bowler.

And Tannehill was hardly the only offensive playmaker who blossomed after leaving a Gase-led squad.

  • Kenyan Drake: After a midseason move from Miami to Arizona in 2019, the running back had 643 yards rushing and eight TDs with 28 receptions in just eight games. He followed that up with 955 yards and 10 scores in 2020. Drake never cracked 650 yards rushing during his time with Gase, though he recorded more than 1,000 total yards rushing and receiving in 2018.
  • DeVante Parker: During Gase’s three years with the Dolphins, the wideout combined for 1,723 yards and six TDs. In 2019, after Gase left, Parker put up 1,202 yards and nine scores.
  • Damien Williams: In two seasons with Gase and the Phins, the running back combined for 700 yards rushing and receiving with seven TDs. In the following two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, Williams had 1,127 total yards, 13 scores and a Super Bowl win.
  • Robby Anderson: In Gase’s first Jets season, the wide receiver recorded 52 catches for 779 yards. A year later with the Carolina Panthers, Anderson had 95 receptions for 1,096 yards.

The Gase Effect is real. And it is spectacular.

Even QB Sam Darnold seems to have benefitted from being released from Gase’s clutches. During a two-game period in which his Jets successor, Zach Wilson, had more picks than your local Guitar Center, Darnold has joined Anderson in Carolina and led the Panthers to a 3-0 start. Following Thursday night’s win over Houston, he’s completed 73 of 107 passes (68.2%) for 888 yards with three touchdowns and just one interception, plus three rushing TDs.

Meanwhile, in 38 games with the Jets, which included 25 under Gase…

  • Darnold had just six games with more than 270 yards passing. He had two in as many games with Carolina.
  • After only eight of those 38 games saw him post a QB rating of at least 99, Darnold had two more in his first two Panthers starts.
  • After just nine games in three seasons with a completion percentage of at least 68%, Darnold had two in his first two Carolina contests.

Zachariason can’t imagine an NFL front office keeping track of a formal Adam Gase Effect metric, and the Jets’ current rebuild will likely mean fantasy owners may not be able to take advantage of the Gase Effect among current Gang Green players in the near future. But there’s no question that this strange football phenomenon has had a major impact on the league.

Time to take advantage, fantasy managers.