Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has high expectations for Adam Gase, and he’s not afraid to say it. In a Monday morning speech (per Jeff Ostrowski, Palm Beach Post), he compared his new coach to Super Bowl winners Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells.
“Instead of getting a retread that really hasn’t had a great track record as head coach, I was looking for somebody that really could be the next, if you will, Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, you know, really great head coach, and I think we got one.”
The natural defense of Ross in these comments is that you wouldn’t want your owner to say something else. If he came out and said “We’re really not sure if we hired a coach that’s any better than Joe Philbin or Dan Campbell,” what kind of message does that send to your fans?
But by comparing him to Belichick and Parcells, you immediately put a bulls-eye on the back of your new coach and by extension, your organization. You also open yourself up for complete ridicule if Gase doesn’t pan out, as Jed York of the San Francisco 49ers did when he compared the team’s decision to replace Jim Harbaugh with Jim Tomsula to the Golden State Warriors decision to fire Mark Jackson and hire Steve Kerr.
If you compare your new coach to championship winners, you not only put the expectations at a sky-high level, but you end up looking ridiculous if he flames out.
Ross later made comments regarding Adam Gase that sound more realistic.
“After three years, if we haven’t made the playoffs, we’re looking for a new coach. That’s just the way it is. The fans want it.”
It should be noted that the Dolphins missed the playoffs from 2012-2014 under Joe Philbin, and he returned for the beginning of the 2015 season. But at least Gase has a sense of what he needs to do, and making the playoffs within three years is a realistic goal.
Ross would have done well to limit his public expectations to just making the playoffs within three years.
If Gase flames out, Ross will receive far more ridicule for the Belichick/Parcells comparison than he’d receive credit for it if Gase does end up being that good. There’s just no need to make yourself or your new head coach a target.