It sounds like Dolphins coach Adam Gase’s familiarity with the Bears is a net negative.
The offense Gase ran as the Bears’ offensive coordinator under John Fox in 2015 is all but gone. Among the starters, only left tackle Charles Leno Jr. and right tackle (now right guard) Kyle Long remain. And Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains’ knowledge of Mitch Trubisky as the Bears’ offensive coordinator last year is “close to irrelevant” because of the growth Trubisky has made from his rookie year.
And on defense, Gase knows all too well what he’s up against with Bears coordinator Vic Fangio. Suffice it to say, Fangio was a bigger help to Gase then than he will be Sunday, when Gase’s Dolphins face the Bears at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
The only time Gase faced a Fangio defense was in 2014, when Gase was the offensive coordinator of the Broncos with Peyton Manning at quarterback, and they put up six touchdowns on Fangio’s fading 49ers defense in a 42-17 rout in Denver.
“He’s tough to go against,” Gase said. “I’ve only gone against him one other time, but [the 49ers] were pretty banged up, and a lot of their really talented players weren’t playing. You give him a good group of players, you’re going to make him that much better because he’s a good on-the-field coach, and he calls the game really well.”
Gase knows it won’t be that easy this time. On the contrary, the Bears’ defense, energized by outside linebacker Khalil Mack, is ranked in the top 10 in every major category, including yards (second), sacks per pass play (first), interceptions per pass play (first) and points allowed (second).
With Mack supported by defensive end Akiem Hicks and linebackers Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith and Leonard Floyd, Fangio is just about at full strength this time.
“He makes it very difficult to prepare for,” Gase said, “and you just know he has a good arsenal, and he knows what he’s going to do to take things away. We have to be great at in-game adjustments.”
Gase, though, credits Fangio for helping him become a better coach when they were coordinators with the Bears in 2015.
“The amount of conversations that we had the year I was there probably helped me grow a lot as to how I looked at things from an offensive perspective,” said Gase, who took the 10-6 Dolphins to the playoffs in his first season in 2016. “I really appreciated the amount of time he would spend if I asked him a question about what he thought.”
Gase was hired by the Dolphins after helping Jay Cutler to a career-best 92.3 passer rating with the Bears in 2015. But this time, he’ll be facing Trubisky, who’s coming off a six-touchdown performance against the Buccaneers on Sept. 30.
“It’s always good to get a quarterback to have a game like that to where the confidence just shoots through the roof,’’ Gase said. ‘‘Sometimes playing this position, that’s what it is. Feeling confident with what you’re really being told going into the game, and going in and executing it.
“I feel like his skill set of being a threat in the running game, being a threat as a scrambler, being able to throw the ball as well as he does and get the receiving crew with all those guys contributing, that’s a good sign for him.”