Christensen joined the Dolphins after spending 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, including two as offensive coordinator in 2010-11.
“They’ve been an 8-8 team and they want to make that next step, they’ve got some good young players,” said Christensen, who was the quarterbacks coach in Indy the past four seasons. “They have another good young quarterback; that’s always fun and challenging for me.
“It’s fun. It’s kind of a fun challenge for me and also just to support a young coach who’s getting his first crack at the head job. I believe in what he believes in, I believe in how he treats people. I believe in his philosophy and it was a chance for me to come in kind of as a seasoned guy, an old guy and be a part of that.”
Christensen made it clear a big reason he decided to make a move at this stage of his career was the opportunity to work with new Dolphins head coach Adam Gase.
The two developed a relationship after Peyton Manning left the Colts in 2012 to join the Denver Broncos, for whom Gase worked for six seasons before serving last season as offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears.
The relationship began with Gase seeking advice from Christensen on working with Manning and has developed into one of mutual respect.
“Peyton left Indy and went to Denver and Adam was the quarterback coach, so we had multiple conversations just offensively and drill work and dealing with Peyton,” Christensen said. “We kind of started a professional relationship that way that kind of turned into a friendship and kind of kept going in both areas. We just talked a lot of football and enjoyed the more you’re around Peyton and his uniqueness. The Manning stories were certainly fun to sit at the combine and share and exchange. (Gase is) really a sharp young guy who’s fun to talk ball with. His mind is always going and I really enjoy that. And I’m looking forward to more of that here.”
Along with Manning, Christensen worked in Indianapolis with quarterback Andrew Luck, the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
With the Dolphins, Christensen will be working with the eighth overall selection that year,
Christensen recently had breakfast with Tannehill and his wife, Lauren, and said he came away impressed with the Dolphins quarterback.
“Enjoyed him as a guy and as a couple and also just quarterback-wise and what he wants to do,” Christensen said. “He has the things that you look for. A guy who wants to be good, a guy who really sees it in a good perspective of what that position entails, what’s the responsibility of it and kind of embraces it and a guy who wants to lead a team to a Super Bowl, wants to be a leader, wants to be a part of a team.
“I thought humility struck me. All the great ones that I’ve been around have this humility about them that they understand that it’s the ultimate team game, that it’s kind of the ultimate position in a team game and it’s a unique position. There’s nothing like it in any sport like playing quarterback in this league. I thought he was a really sharp guy who understood it and I think it’s going to be really a fun project this year to get this thing up and going. Certainly it’ll about him, but it’s certainly much bigger than that.”
Christensen will be leading an offense that had three players selected to the Pro Bowl — center
“They have some playmakers and there is some youth,” Christensen said. “It’s a young team and it seems to me it’s a hungry cutlure, they want to win. I look at it they’ve kind of been a .500 bunch and, hey, we’ve got to go find a way to win two, three more games and get up to that 10 or 11 and get ourselves in the playoffs and anything can happen. I think it’s going to be a great challenge, but there are some good young players, which is always fun. We’ll have to fill in some gaps and just keep developing and I think we can get there.”
Here were some of Christensen’s comments on various topics from his press conference:
• On whether his role as an offensive coordinator is to be an ally to the quarterback: “I think so. I’ve always thought that. From every level of coaching that I’ve ever been at and especially this level, I think that’s a lonely position. That’s a lonely position in this league. It’s lonely in the locker room, it’s lonely on the street, it’s hard to find friends and it’s just a unique position. I’ve always felt like the No. 1 job that I have is to be an ally, to be a safe place where a guy can talk and communicate and have a relationship where you can bounce things off and generate ideas. I’ve always thought the quarterback position is unique that way and I’ve always approached it that way.”
• On Manning getting back to the Super Bowl: “I’m thrilled. I really couldn’t be more excited, at the risk of being corny. Like I told him, the last playoff game against New England and one thing I do share with this city is a lack of affection for New England through the years, but (I) just had a knot in my stomach. It wasn’t like the offseason, I just wanted him to win that game, so just was thrilled. And, just to have been up front on his journey, to have seen the journey and to know what he’s fought through physically and to know what he’s fought through mentally, know what he’s fought through with the moves and then even this year just going through some of the adversity and battling. So I think it makes it even more special, you see him run out of that tunnel at the Super Bowl just knowing what he did to get there and for a decade and a half, watching how the guy approaches the game is pretty darn special to see him. Now we just have to see him finish this thing.”
• On what he thinks of the Dolphins offensive line: “The No. 1 thing I see us doing approaching this thing is evaluating our own. That’s the No. 1 thing: We can’t miss on our own. We spent a good day today just talking about our own guys, and we’re learning more and more. ... Just trying to get a good feel for what our players are, the offensive line certainly is the beginning of the evaluation process and we have to find some way to find some consistency and some continuity. I think that is a position that the more they play together and the more games together, the better they are going to be. ... We do have some good players up there. It’s not an empty cupboard. And then we’ll just kind of look and see how it fits into what we’re trying to do and with what Coach Gase wants to do with this offense. That will be an ongoing evaluation, but we’ve got the process started and again, there are a couple of good young guys.”
• On how he would feel about calling plays in the future: “I hadn’t thought about it. That’s down the road. Again, I think that (Gase) has a great knack for doing it. So I see him doing it and I see our staff kind of supporting it. He’ll have to have some help, just because of the other responsibilities. But I also think just the process of getting it onto the call sheet; those are the things that we can help with. And then how it comes off the call sheet through the game, through the play-caller, probably gets overrated a little bit, but there is this knack that a play-caller has. When to take a shot? When not take a shot? When to get the ball in Landry’s hands? When to run the clock? All of those things. I don’t see that coming and I’m not worried about that quite yet; we’ve got a thousand things to worry about before I start worrying about that.”
• On his preference of the style of offense that he wants to bring to the Dolphins: “The attraction to this job was that I really enjoyed those years in Indy when we were aggressive. We were no-huddle and the players had fun. That’s a big thing, that the players enjoy the system. It’s hard to keep players interested and it keeps getting harder and harder to keep players interested. I think the no-huddle and this style of play where you’re mixing it up and you have the ability to – I think Chicago last year led the league in time of possession – but you’re also taking shots and there’s kind of new stuff and you’re keeping them stimulated. I would say this is the way I like to play. We did it for an awful lot of years in Indy and it’s kind of fun. There is always something new. There are always new codes, there are always new concepts and it’s wide open, you spread them out, and you still can pop some runs in there, etc. But I like this style of play.”