The Beautiful Mind of Chase Edmonds, Part III: ‘A match made in heaven’
Becoming a father at 18. Depressed in college. Fighting and clawing his way to Miami. It all leads to 2022. He believes in Tua, he believes in his own leadership and Edmonds knows what's coming next.
Need to catch up on “The Beautiful Mind of Chase Edmonds?”
Part I: 'I was scared shitless'
Part II: ‘It’s over for me’
This is what it looks like when a dream is realized. The kid who was in a puddle of tears several times over takes total control of his destiny.
Behind Door No. 1? Tampa Bay. The opportunity to play with Tom Brady, the greatest ever, felt like a golden ticket he’d be crazy to turn down.
Behind Door No. 2? Buffalo. He loved the idea of playing in a “super football culture,” where community and team are one and the same and the air just smells like football. He’s seen all of the wild tailgate videos in those Orchard Park mud lots. One of his former teammates, Jordan Phillips, signed with the Bills for a second time and was blunt: it’s just different in Western New York. And, oh. The Bills boast arguably the best player in the sport themselves in Josh Allen.
“I’m not going to lie,” Edmonds says. “I was probably going to go to Buffalo.”
The problem here: taxes. Factor in the abomination that is NYS taxes and the money between what Buffalo and Miami was offering was not comparable. “I feel like Buffalo should pay different taxes! It’s crazy.” (Editor’s note: Amen.) Of course, it was not strictly about handing over hard-earned money to the government. If Edmonds was money hungry, he would’ve signed with a team like the Houston Texans. The first-time free agent did not want to, as he says, “chase the bag” like others. “I could’ve gone to Houston for the highest-paid contract,” he says. “But guys get lost — quick. And once you get lost in this league, it’s hard to get back out.”
Money matters with his daughter, Avery, growing so, so fast but Edmonds knew it was wisest to go to a situation where he’d be used the correct way. That’s what would lead to both wins and a third contract which — as a NFL running back in this wretched economy — is almost unheard of.
So what awaited behind glorious Door No. 3 was the best of all worlds. Miami it was. Edmonds inked a two-year deal worth $12.1 million.
Go Long is an independent newsletter publication that covers pro football through a longform lens. Want humanizing journalism delivered to your email inbox? Sign up today right here:
Florida’s palm trees, beaches and zero state income tax have made the Dolphins a destination since 1966, but anybody assuming Edmonds is another sucker heading south to perish would be wildly mistaken. The man seated right here in the same boardroom he put pen to paper on that contract did his homework. He phoned others who played for new head coach Mike McDaniel. The theme? He’s brilliant. He’s a cerebral play designer who both X’s and O’s his personnel into an open crease and grasps the big picture of how one play can set up another… and another… and another as if the game of football is more chess match than tug-of-war.
Joining forces with the former 49ers offensive coordinator was more intriguing to Edmonds than anything Buffalo or Tampa Bay had to offer.
“I like to think I am one of the smartest football players in the entire league,” Edmonds says. “Especially at the running back position. So whether it’s knowing my assignments, knowing what the defense is trying to do to us. Being able to pair with a coach who is intelligent in that same manner really stuck out to me. With the system of how they use running backs outside of the backfield, it was a match made in heaven.”
No team possesses this infantry of pure speed.
Miami’s offense is the fastest in the NFL and it’s not particularly close.
Tyreek Hill has been peace-signing DBs into the Upside Down his entire career. No one strikes more fear in a defense. (Ask Sean McDermott.) He’s worth every penny of his four-year, $120 million pact. Jaylen Waddle, a man who ran a 4.37 in high school, has superstar potential. All he did as a rookie was eclipse 100 catches and 1,000 yards. After signing Edmonds, the Dolphins added Raheem Mostert. You know, the burner who surfs with the sharks in the offseason and torches the Green Bay Packers for 220 yards and four touchdowns in an NFC Championship Game. (His back story is wild, too.) Mostert and Hill own the two fastest times ever recorded by NextGen Stats, which started tracking the speed of individual players eight years ago. Mostert’s blistering on-field time of 23.09 MPH was narrowly edged out Hill’s career-best of 23.24 MPH.
Tight end Mike Gesicki is a yeti in his own right at 6 foot 6, 247 pounds with a 41 ½-inch vert, 4.5 speed and an 82-inch wingspan. He’ll undoubtedly benefit from the tutelage of Jon Embree, one of the position’s true tight end whisperers. It’s still hard to believe San Francisco let one of the position’s greatest teachers of all-time exit the building.
The arm’s race didn’t end there. The Dolphins signed Cedrick Wilson, who had 602 yards and six scores last season in Dallas. And traded for Sony Michel, who sparked a Patriots Super Bowl run in 2018. And drafted Erik Ezukanma in the fourth round. And recently signed vet Mohamed Sanu. And let’s not sleep on Lynn Bowden Jr., profiled here. He’ll return from injury. The offensive line, a sieve last season, will only improve with the arrival of Terron Armstead and Connor Williams.
Damn right Edmonds is licking his chops. He will serve as the brains in the middle of this math equation of an offense, ziggin’ and zaggin’ and dusting defenders.
The mad scientist mixing potions together to make this all work looks and sounds nothing like NFL head coaches of the last century. When Dolphins camp opened this week, McDaniel posed for a selfie with the local beat writers. He’s a candid, calm, bespectacled scholar of a boss devoid of ego at the podium and that’s a welcomed 180 for a team historically run by offensively challenged coaches. McDaniel’s scheme is extremely “detail-oriented,” Edmonds explains, in how he can “window dress” a play. In other words, Miami will make plays look the same in the run game when they’re not the same at all. Blocking schemes are tweaked ever-so slightly. A guard. A tight end. A receiver. One microscopic change creates an entirely new angle within the zone scheme.
“It really makes the defense be disciplined with what they do every single play,” Edmonds explains. “If they’re not disciplined, one play can… you’ve seen it. San Fran, it’s crazy.”
San Francisco’s head coach, Kyle Shanahan, was on the sideline with his father when that Terrell Davis-powered Denver Broncos revolutionized the run game and — over time — has added his own wrinkles to create the perfect angles for whoever’s at running back. A slew of 49er backs have planted one foot and surged to the second and third levels the last few years. Take the third-and-7 run that keyed an upset win over the Green Bay Packers in the 2021 NFC Divisional Round. With 1:03 remaining, do-it-all Deebo Samuel was unleashed directly at cornerback Jaire Alexander. Honestly, the play call was diabolical. As if Shanahan and McDaniel knew Alexander was fresh off missing 13 games with a shoulder injury and due for a whopping contract extension. As if they knew Alexander would want nothing to do with the rugged Samuel in the frigid cold.
They were right. Samuel’s nine-yard gain set up a game-winning field goal.
In Miami, McDaniel has an even richer toolbox at his disposal.
“Everything feeds off each other,” says Edmonds, his voice picking up. “We’ll do a zoom motion and we’ll run outside zone. We’ll do that zoom motion with Tyreek and they have to worry about the jet sweep. Then we might do a zoom motion, and instead of the outside zone, we do a zoom motion play action and Tyreek is going to the flat. Those two plays are the same exact play. The only difference is that you handed the ball off and you didn’t hand the ball off on the other one. So now everybody on defense has to be super disciplined in their gaps, super disciplined in their assignments, their techniques. One missed fit and…”
Edmonds snaps his fingers.
“…you’ve got an outside zone for 20 yards. One missed fit and you’ve got Tyreek Hill in the flat for 20 yards. One missed fit and you’ve got Tua scrambling 10 yards for a first down. There are a lot of outcomes on the same play that look the same — but it’s really not.”
Reading this all, your own brain may be screaming “But Tua! Tua! Tua is inept!” Indeed, third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa remains the mystery. It’s a do-or-die season for the 2020 fifth overall pick. Edmonds doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that Tagovailoa’s opportunity is “crazy” with so many weapons around him. Perhaps no player in the league is facing more pressure to perform. But Edmonds' makes a pretty compelling case that he’ll deliver.
First, he notes that McDaniel’s scheme is built for Tagovailoa because it’s based on the quarterback setting his feet and making deliberate throws with timing i.e. Tua’s strength.
“This offense also feeds off of receivers with YAC,” Edmonds continues, “and we have two of the best YAC receivers you could have for this offense. Tua is going to do a great job. He takes care of the football already. So as long as we come in and we help him out and we do what we’re supposed to — we get open, we hold onto the football, we catch the football — everything will work out.”
Say what you will about Alabama’s plethora of five-star talent, he adds. That offense was still timing-based with slants and crossers and deep posts. One. Two. Three. Throw. That’s what Edmonds tells everyone to expect in Miami. And like practically everyone else, he assumed Tagovailoa had a weak arm before signing. Such was the narrative. “When I came here, I was thinking, ‘Shit how far is he going to throw it?’” Edmonds admits. “That’s how bad the media is.” Once the running back started practicing with his new quarterback, any fears began to subside. He claims Tagovailoa’s arm is plenty strong and states Tua was a Heisman finalist “for a reason,” and the No. 1 quarterback out of high school “for a reason” and the fifth overall pick “for a reason.”
From what Edmonds was told by his new teammates, the deck was stacked against Tagovailoa his first two years. More than anyone knew.
“The OC and the offense — the way it was ran — was terrible,” Edmonds says. “It was absolutely terrible. OK? He just didn’t have the right pieces around him. Now, he has the right pieces. He’ll be just fine.”
Much like Tyreek Hill does any time there’s a microphone present, Edmonds pumps Tua Love into the atmosphere. All part of that manifesting positivity, right? Yet he also knows how this can be perceived by skeptics and promises he’s not BS’ing anyone here.
“He’s going to be just fine,” says Edmonds, “and I don’t like cashing checks for people.”
Perhaps Edmonds speaks so confidently about his quarterback because he knows he’ll have a say in the final product. Edmonds can be an asset to Tua in more ways that meet the naked eye.
He was able to decode blitzes for Kyler Murray in ‘Zona and will likely do the same here. He’s capable of flawlessly (and rapidly) deciphering the back-end of a defensive coverage and how it all ties into the overall blitz package. Coverage rotations don’t throw him off. Camouflaged zone blitzes don’t either. Edmonds processes the sort of intel most running backs do not even consider, which helps him nestle into the sweet spot of a coverage. Former Fordham quarterback Kevin Anderson is correct to label his friend the best pass pro back in the NFL, too. The film backs him up. Because Edmonds so quickly cracks the code, he can meet a blitzing 250-pound linebacker right at the line of scrimmage — not four yards deep, not when it’s too late for a 202-pounder — because he’s smart enough to beat any blitzer to the spot.
Edmonds talks to everyone, Anderson adds, “like a quarterback.” If there’s something he needs to learn, he memorizes it.
Physically talented running backs get chewed up and spit out all the time, but Edmonds is built to last. Because of his brain. Anderson calls him one of the smartest human beings — period — that he knows. No wonder he chuckles when the topic of McDaniel’s high-tech offense is brought up. This dizzying array of motion… and misdirection… and jet sweeps… and end arounds that’ll get linebackers flowing into no man’s land? That’s Edmonds’ language.
“He is perfect for that offense,” Anderson says. “Because there is so much going on and he understands all of it.”
None of this is a coincidence, too. Climb up this family tree and you’ll find people who’ve gone to college for four generations — all the way back to Chase’s great grandmother. Which, his mother notes, is “hard to find in the African American community. Even in 2022.” Alison Edmonds also chuckles. She doesn’t want to sound vain, but admits her IQ is quite high. She’s a speech pathologist with a master’s degree. What did Chase inherit from her? “Oh,” she laughs. “I’ll say right up there next to the genius level.”
The difference with Chase is his blend of book smarts and street smarts.
That’s striking in our conversations. It’s clear he’s always trying to unlock new corners of his mind in academia. Take what he learned about the existence of God in that Philosophy class from Part II. Edmonds applies the same logic to dragons. Yes, dragons. He’s certain they existed many years ago — fossils or not — because, as he says, nobody just wakes up one day and says, “I’m going to make a mythical creature called a ‘dragon.’” For the idea of a dragon to last thousands of years, he believes dragons absolutely had to exist at one point.
“Nobody just made that shit up,” Edmonds adds. “It’s hard to imagine something flying and breathing fire unless you’ve seen it first.”
The street smarts? That’s what will make Edmonds a very rich man beyond football.
While assimilating to McDaniel’s offense these last four months, Edmonds simultaneously laid the groundwork for an app that’ll forever change the entertainment industry. Seriously. The idea was first planted as the Cardinals’ losing streak dragged on in 2021. One day, Edmonds was bullshitting with wide receiver Christian Kirk. “Bro,” he said, “I’m trying to get rich.” Kirk laughed and told Edmonds that they already were rich. “Nah, nah, nah,” Edmonds replied. “I’m trying to get rich.” The two of them started thinking about nightlife and how everyone would love to see what a club looks like inside before waiting in line outside. Perhaps security cameras? No, that wouldn’t work. One conversation led to another. And another. Edmonds started jotted notes down.
Light bulbs went off nonstop and, eventually, he came up with the idea for “Sceene.”
Let the man explain this nightlife app himself.
“At Fordham, you go from the Bronx to the upper west side, it’s like a 30-minute ride,” he says. “So, if it’s 10:30 at night and they say ‘Chase we’re at the club. It’s a good vibe. Come on up here,’ I have to take a 30-minute Uber ride just to get there. And by the time I get there? Let’s say you don’t know a promoter, you’re not doing bottle service, you’re just a regular guy for general admittance. I wait in a 30-minute line and by that time it’s 12 o’clock, 12:30. By the time I get in the club and get inside, it’s not the vibe I want anymore. Whether it’s the music, the crowd, the drinks, the service, whatever it is, I’m not feeling it. Now, I just wasted half of the night trying to get to a spot that I thought was a good vibe for me. So, I’m making an app that’ll establish an entire feed system. You take this feed system and you outsource data from other sources — OpenTable, Yelp, your phone, Google IP’s — and you put it into this feed system that allows people to visually see what bars, venues, lounges, clubs look like through other users before they make their decision to go.”
This is sort of like “Waze” applied to nightlife. Yelp and Apple Maps may supply a surface-level description of a club, but he expects this to enhance your weekend unlike anything before.
Edmonds speaks likes he runs with the football, juking from one point to the next.
He’s a huge fan of human behavior. And whenever Edmonds goes to a bar or a club himself, he sees everyone with their phone out. Patrons inside of an establishment, he knows, feel the intrinsic need to share their experience. He’ll lean into that. Once Sceene blows up, everyone going to a club in a new city — Miami, Nashville, Houston — will possess a full scouting report on what it’s like inside: the male/female ratio, the music, the demographics, etc. He’s got plans to digitally advertise a business to monetize the app, too. If a club is 45 percent full on a Friday night at 11 p.m.? He’ll shoot a flash alert out to Sceene users offering a free drink to those who get to that club. Or a free cover. Or, hey, here’s a cool idea. Let’s say a cover fee is $20. Edmonds knows for a fact, via all of his studies on human psychology, that folks buried in the back, back, back, back of that line snaking around the block would be willing to pay $50. “FOMO,” the fear of missing out, sparks rash decisions in us all.
Adds Edmonds: “That fear of ‘Oh my god, what’s inside? Who’s performing inside? What does it look like?’”
No, this wasn’t a reason to sign with the Dolphins but it sure doesn’t hurt to live in Miami.
Edmonds is not worried about gaining a high volume of users because, as he points out, TikTok’s algorithms redefined the social media game. Their app outsources your post for you — to people they believe will interact with that post — thus a user’s number of followers is irrelevant. No, Kirk isn’t working with his ex-teammate on this app and most certainly does not need the money. “CK got that 84!” jokes Edmonds, referencing Kirk’s $84 million deal with the Jaguars. Sceene, a double entendre to see the “scene” and be “seen,” is almost set to launch.
“It’s going to work. There’s nothing like it. It’s a more hip Yelp. Their market is like 35 and older because older people like to write. They like to type and do informative responses. This is more of a hip way for people doing it. It’s quick, easy.”
He’s constantly educating himself. Edmonds recently read Reginald Lewis’ classic, “Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun?” and was inspired by the story of a kid who went from throwing newspapers onto front lawns in West Baltimore to becoming the first black American to build a billion-dollar company. He’s always YouTubing videos to learn all about different tech elements that’ll make clear to all business associates on Zoom calls that he knows the in’s and out’s of building an app.
The hard work is done. Edmonds has already been in talks with clubs in Fort Lauderdale. All he needs to do is chat with the occasional venture capitalist on the phone.
Now, it’s time to play football.
Training camp has begun and Edmonds will be a busy man. What happens next is crystal clear to Anderson. Edmonds will take the league by storm in 2022, sign a gazillion-dollar extension, purchase a South Florida mansion and let him move right into the guest house as a roommate forever. Maybe they’ll even rekindle that FIFA rivalry. That friend who bashed the drawer after one L cannot help but sneak a quick dig in. OK, so Edmonds may score a bunch of touchdowns this season… nobody should expect much of a show in the end zone. The 26-year-old set to change nightlife in America cannot dance. At all.
“He has no rhythm,” Anderson says. “He’s stiff. He’s a meatball, a rock of muscle.”
Once more, Edmonds takes a moment to zoom out.
His sister finally found her blessing. A month and a half ago, Morgan got married. She’s not lonely anymore.
He’s never been happier himself. His daughter remains his world. Right now, Avery is all about gymnastics so he’s passing on the same lessons his Dad gave him back in Pop Warner. Edmonds bought her all the gymnastic equipment possible and explained that if she wants to be great, she’ll need to work at it. Over FaceTime, Avery practices routines for Dad, too. Flips, splits, spins, the whole nine. He beams with pride. Even though Chase is 5 foot 9, Avery is tall for her age. One doctor said she’s in the 96th percentile. When this Girl Dad does get to hang with Avery in person, they head to the zoo. She loves the zoo. But football? Not so much. “She goes, ‘Daddy, it’s too loud!’” Edmonds says in a high pitch.
To start training camp, Avery’s in town with Dad for 10 days. He’s been hanging out with her every day when he gets off work at 6 p.m.
Building this relationship, he adds, “means everything to me.” That’s why it still pains Edmonds that he wasn’t able to be two places at once back when he was at Fordham. Back when he was that 18-year-old in shock. He needed to slay the odds for her, and he did. He made it. And, holy, it feels like history is repeating itself this summer. The start of this next chapter — as a Miami Dolphin — feels like stepping onto that Fordham campus all over again.
When Edmonds found out he was going to be a teenage parent, and the pressure was highest, and his world could’ve come tumbling down, he nearly rushed for more yards than anybody in college football history. So, that’s exactly how he’s attacking 2022. After three seasons of knowing what to expect in Arizona, he feels “uncomfortable” in all of the best ways. New teammates. New coaches. New offensive system. Even this new weather is welcomed. Bring on that suffocating humidity. He likes the fact that the Dolphins practice and play games outside instead of a “comfortable-ass dome.”
“I’m out of my comfort zone,” he says, “and it reminds me of my freshman year.”
He’ll assert himself as the alpha again.
He’ll earn that “C.”
He’ll do everything in his power to will this organization back to the playoffs and win for the first time since 2000. Because, frankly, that’s how life works for Chase Edmonds.
He sets his mind on a goal and leaves zero room for doubt.