There’s something different about this guy from the moment you hear his name.
According to the website NamePlayground.com, the average age of people named Clyde in this country is 80.5. It hasn’t shown up among the top 1,000 most popular baby names since 1998 and hasn’t been in the top 50 since 1883, the same year that overhead wires were first used to deliver electricity to cities.
Yeah, so we’re not exactly talking trendy here, and when Clyde Christensen was selected as the new offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins, it wasn’t a trendy pick.
Adam Gase, the youngest head coach in the NFL at 37, needs a steady hand to help him with the Dolphins offense. He needs a guy who has built all kinds of game plans and has been a part of multiple playoff staffs. If not a mentor, Gase needs a trusted lieutenant, and one with a few battle scars.
Christensen, who turns 60 next week, rings all of those bells.
He’s been coaching in the NFL for 20 seasons and missed the playoffs just four times. He worked with Peyton Manning in the Hall of Fame quarterback’s prime and with Andrew Luck in the former No. 1 overall draft pick’s first four professional seasons. All of that happened during a 14-year run at Indianapolis, where Christensen came in with Tony Dungy and outlasted just about everyone in the many changes that followed.
Of course it’s easy winning with quarterbacks like Manning and Luck. Did you know, however, that Christensen also steered Trent Dilfer and Shaun King as Tampa Bay’s quarterbacks coach in 1999 and almost made it to the Super Bowl with them?
I didn’t know that either until looking it up, which is pretty bad because I covered the NFC Championship game that year, an 11-6 Rams’ win over Tampa Bay in St. Louis, and all I remember is that King was a pretty pedestrian quarterback and it was too bad that Dilfer was out with an injury in such an important game but, on the other hand, Dilfer was a pretty pedestrian quarterback, too.
So it seems that Christensen might know how to win some games with Ryan Tannehill, a more talented passer than either of those former Bucs. Gase has said he will call the Dolphins’ plays and that’s fine because he’s supposed to be some kind of an offensive whiz kid but listen to this.
When Gase worked previously as Denver’s quarterbacks coach in 2012, he used to call Christensen in Indianapolis for tips on coaching the future Hall of Famer. It couldn’t have been anything about X’s and O’s since the two men worked for different franchises. More likely it was about relating to Peyton, reading his signals, gaining his confidence.
Can’t have too much of that kind of information, whether you’re an assistant in Denver or a new head coach in Miami, working with a young quarterback who has all kinds of talent but continues to go about his work more robotically than he should after four seasons as a starter. Building Tannehill’s confidence and getting him to attack defenses more instinctively might just be a two-man job and those two men might just be Gase and Christensen.
Nothing against new Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who is 43 and making his first try at this job, but it would have been worrisome if all of Gase’s major hires were still working toward the primes of their careers.
Christensen will be the wise old bird in every offensive meeting room. Doesn’t mean he will be right on everything, but it does mean he has seen everything, and usually from a winning perspective.
This makes me feel better about the remade 2016 Dolphins, who still don’t have anybody on the staff with previous NFL head coaching experience. What they do have is a Clyde to go with all those cool cats who are trying on new titles and thinking, at some level, that their ideas are better than anything that’s ever been tried.
Clyde Christensen’s 20-year NFL coaching career
Yr Team Position Record Playoffs
1996 Tampa Bay TE’s 6-10 None
1997 Tampa Bay TE’s 10-6 Lost Divisional rd
1998 Tampa Bay TE’s 8-8 None
1999 Tampa Bay QB’s 11-5 Lost NFC title gm
2000 Tampa Bay QB’s 10-6 Lost WC
2001 Tampa Bay Off Coord. 9-7 Lost WC
2002 Indy WR’s 10-6 Lost WC
2003 Indy WR’s 12-4 Lost AFC title gm
2004 Indy WR’s 12-4 Lost Divisional rd
2005 Indy WR’s 14-2 Lost Divisional rd
2006 Indy WR’s 12-4 Won Super Bowl
2007 Indy WR’s 13-3 Lost Divisional rd
2008 Indy Asst. HC 12-4 Lost WC
2009 Indy Asst. HC 14-2 Lost Super Bowl
2010 Indy Off. Coord. 10-6 Lost WC
2011 Indy Off. Coord. 2-14 None
2012 Indy QB’s 11-5 Lost WC
2013 Indy QB’s 11-5 Lost Divisional rd
2014 Indy QB’s 11-5 Lost AFC title gm
2015 Indy QB’s 8-8 None