Adam Gase is stepping into rather large shoes. Since Denver's first Super Bowl appearance following the 1977 season, Denver has listed eight coaches as their Offensive Coordinator. Six of those eight -- the two exceptions being George Henshaw (1992) and Jim Fassel (1993-94) -- have at least one AFC West title on their resume -- there is a footnote here, the Broncos tied for 1st in the AFCW in 2008 but lost the tiebreaker for postseason participation to the San Diego Charters. Three of those six have at least one AFC Championship and one has two Super Bowl Championships. Here are the predecessors to Adam Gase:
Josh McDaniels (2009-10)
John Fox (2011-12)
|Rick Dennison||2006-08||Mike Shanahan||2008|
|Gary Kubiak||1995-2005||Mike Shanahan||
|Jim Fassel||1993-94||Wade Phillips|
|George Henshaw||1992||Dan Reeves|
|Mike Shanahan||1991||Dan Reeves||1991|
|Chan Gailey||1989-90||Dan Reeves||1989||1989|
|Mike Shanahan||1985-87||Dan Reeves||
Red Miller (1980-81)
Dan Reeves (1982)
OC=Offensive Coordinator, Yrs=seasons as OC, HC=head coach served under, AFCW=won the division, AFCC=won the AFC Championship, SB=won the Super Bowl
Gase is entering his ninth season as an NFL coach and his fifth season on the Denver Broncos coaching staff.
2013 will be Gase's first season as an Offensive Coordinator, after spending two seasons serving as the Broncos' wide receivers coach followed by two seasons as Denver's quarterbacks coach. Prior to joining the Broncos, Gase had spent three seasons as an offensive assistant coach with the Detroit Lions and one season with the San Francisco 49ers.
Gase assisted the Broncos' 2012 offense rank 4th in yards per game (397.9) and score an average of 30.1 points per game. That offense scored thirty or more points in eleven out of their sixteen regular season games. Gase helped Peyton Manning break every team single-season passing record during Manning's first season in the orange and blue. Gase assisted Manning in earning NFL Comeback Player of the Year, Associated Press 1st-team All-Pro, and Pro Bowl starter honors.
Gase was also a part of the success of quarterback Tim Tebow during Tebow's eleven starts in the 2011 regular season and the two postseason matchups. Under Gase's tutelage, Tebow threw twelve touchdowns and only six interceptions in the regular season.
As the Broncos' wide receivers coach (2009-10), Gase guided Brandon Lloyd to become the first Bronco to lead the NFL in receiving yards (2011 - 1,448) and helped Brandon Marshall earn a 2009 Pro Bowl appearance.
As mentioned above, Gase has some large shoes to fill. The recent success of the Bronco -- a 6-0 run to start the 2009 season, a six-game winning streak in the 2011 season, an eleven-game winning streak in the 2012 season, an offense that scored 30 or more points in eleven out of sixteen regular season games in 2012 -- will put pressure on Gase to continue to improve the Broncos offense.
One question that will linger around Gase is the same one that some people raised regarding Mike McCoy -- are the successes of the Broncos offense due to the offensive coordinator or due to the personnel around him? Many of McCoy's critics attributed the successes of the Broncos offense to head coach Josh McDaniels while blaming the failures of the offense on McCoy's conservative play calling. A similar criticism was raised in 2010 and early 2011. Much of the Broncos' offensive success during the 2011 season was attributed more to Tim Tebow teaching McCoy how to install an offense that Tebow could run as it was to any great talent on McCoy's part. LIkewise, there are those who attribute the success of the offense in 2012 more to Peyton Manning than to Mike McCoy. It will be interesting to see how Gase is perceived in this process.
Adam Gase will face much the same form of criticism and questioning -- will the successes of the Denver offense be attributed to Gase's work as the offensive coordinator or to Peyton Manning as the man leading the offense on the field. I believe that the presupposition held by most fans is that Manning will be the one who is, in actuality, the one who will be calling the plays, which raises the question as to what Gase's role will be in actuality.
Various newspaper and internet sites have offered up some suggestions of what they believe Gase will be doing in Denver as the offensive coordinator. Most likely, he will be spending less one-on-one time working with Manning and more time on things like game planning, film study, brainstorming with the coaching staff, conducting offensive position group meetings and overseeing the offensive position coaches.
Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post speculates that since Gase's coaching roots come from Mike Martz, we may see elements of Martz' offense in the Denver playbook, particularly plays that involve the use of running backs in the passing game as more than simply a last choice outlet.
Some outside observers have speculated that the "make-it or break-it" aspect of Gase's job will lie in what his play calling ends up looking like. His predecessor, Mike McCoy, was often criticized for being too conservative in that regard, with the most glaring example being a 3rd-and-7 call in the divisional game against the Ravens. The Broncos needed seven yards to earn a first down that would ice the game. McCoy called a run. Denver did not get the first and Baltimore went on to win the game.
Yahoo Sports quotes John Elway as having said:
"As a quarterback, why I liked Mike [Shanahan] was he wanted to win it on the offensive side," Elway told ESPN's Ashley Fox. "If we needed a first down late in the game, we were going to be aggressive offensively rather than punting and putting the game in the defense's hands."
That would seem to tell us exactly what Elway wants to see from Gase. With a solid set of weapons in Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker, as well as what is shaping up to be a solid corp of tight ends and running backs, along with an offensive line capable of watching Manning's back, there is no reason we shouldn't be able to see Gase "go Mike Martz" on the NFL in 2013. And if he does, the NFL had best be ready to see the Broncos in the Super Bowl.
Did the Broncos improve the coaching staff?