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Broncos OC Gase keeps rising as coaching star with Manning intensity

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  • Broncos OC Gase keeps rising as coaching star with Manning intensity

    NEW YORK -- Adam Gase will try to tell you that his rise is due in large part to good fortune, being lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the best coaches in America from a very young age.
    The coaching prodigy, one of the most respected coordinators in the NFL already, at just age 35, and the prize candidate of next year's head coaching searches, will point to the remarkable confluences through his career, of being mentored by Nick Saban and Steve Mariucci and Mike Martz and Mike McCoy, and now, John Fox, and of having had the opportunity to work alongside current NFL coordinators like Josh McDaniels and Mel Tucker while all were still students in college.
    But then, should you spend even a few minutes chatting with any of those men, should you happen to pry Saban away from a busy lunch meeting, or catch Mariucci while preparing for a Pro Bowl broadcast or merely mention Gase's name to Martz, it becomes immediately evident that Gase in his own way has inspired these men. All of them from their initial dealings with Gase came away smitten with the young man, seeing a football intellect, speed of thought, remarkable instincts and a relentless work ethic that would carry him from a college student assistant at Michigan State to Saban's staff at LSU, to Detroit, primarily under Martz, a former Super Bowl coach, and then eventually as part of McDaniels' staff in Denver, where he remained to replace McCoy as the offensive coordinator in 2013 when McCoy left to become San Diego's head coach. Now, to this Super Bowl media day, where, as Peyton Manning's trusted sounding board and confidant, he has become a must-talk to subject for the media and someone other owners very much want to hire.

    Gase, in his own self-deprecating manner, recalled the men who so greatly influenced him, and still seems genuinely surprised himself that his hard work has born such fruit already, to the point where he politely rebuffed advances by the Browns and Vikings to interview for their head coaching openings in order to focus all of his energy on Denver's playoff run. He is very much one of the "it" guys of this Super Bowl week, and he seems, though quite confident in his abilities, still a bit humbled by this newfound attention. While still younger than several of the men playing in this game, Manning included, this is no overnight success story, but rather the tale of a driven, determined coach-in-progress, whose singular passion has resulted in him becoming a coaching wunderkind, a seemingly can't miss prospect bound for still greater things.

    "A little bit of luck," Gase said, in summarizing how he got here, "and a little bit of meeting the right people at the right time."

    It started back, well, almost as soon as Gase's high school football career ended, which would be the highest level he ever played the game. A native of Ypsilanti Mich., he enrolled at Michigan State where Saban, seen as a half rock star, half god in coaching circles, was running the football program. Gase's high school coach knew how much the teenager had to give, how much he loved learning about the game and studying the game, and his coach also happened to be friendly with Dean Pees, a member of Saban's defensive staff.

    His first project for Pees was to try to put together an evaluation handbook for the coaching staff. Pees, upon Gase's first time in his office, handed the freshman a copy of the "1994 Cleveland Browns Self Scout," a report overseen by none other than Bill Belichick, Browns head coach at the time, with Saban his defensive coordinator (Saban came to Michigan State in 1995). Gase had the task of taking the charts, figures and spreadsheets contained within, and producing the same sort of document for Michigan State, with the research the staff had conducted about their own tendencies, evaluations, etc. Luckily, he was fairly well versed in Excel, and he went to work.

    "I printed the 1996 Michigan State Self Scout from my dorm room," Gase remembered, still smiling about what amounted to his first ever coaching task.

    Gase was the lowest of the low as a student volunteer, but he quickly earned Saban's trust. Gase would go on to be a graduate assistant for Saban, and help train other future grad assistants and NFL coordinators like McDaniels and Brian Daboll. He also began drawing more meaningful assignments and projects.

    "It was easy to tell right off the bat that he had the right stuff to be a good coach," Saban said. "He worked hard, he got along great with the players, he was very bright and had sort of a natural instinct for football, and picking up on things, and those are the kinds of guys you grow and develop and they see the big picture a little more than some other guys who have to grind to know it and memorize things.

    "It was a conceptual thing with Adam. He just understood how things worked, and he was willing to work and he started from ground zero; it's not like this is some star player who had played a lot of football. But he wanted to be a coach and he was willing to invest his time in it and he did a fantastic job for us, supporting our offensive coaches and our defensive staff as grad assistant and quality control guy after that."

    In fact, when Saban left Michigan State to go to LSU in 2000, Gase was the only coach to go with him (contractual issues had something to do with that regarding others). In all, Gase spent seven years with Saban, notoriously hard on his coaches, a demanding perfectionist and a task master (Saban went on to build national championship programs at LSU and now at Alabama), and compliments are heard-earned. Gase quickly understood that, The other grad assistants sometimes marveled about how Saban never had to repeat a play or a concept twice to Gase -- he'd study it and master it and spend all night in the football offices if he had to -- and Gase had an intrinsic feel for him. "I knew what he wanted," Gase said.

    For Saban to keep this kid around resonated to others, so people took notice. "I worked for (Saban) for seven years, and coaches know that's not an easy thing," Gase said.

    At one point Gase thought about how bleak the odds were, though, that he'd become a coach himself, and came close to accepting a job with an insurance company. When he got on a speakerphone with three of his close friends, they quickly nixed that idea. Yes, he was working ridiculous hours for virtually no compensation, and there were no guarantees the apprenticeship would pay off, but Gase was doing what he loved, and what he was meant to be doing.

    "They told me I had to stay at LSU," Gase said, a conversation his buddies relive with the bigshot NFL coach to this day.

    The Russ Bolinger connection

    While at LSU, Gase become friendly with Lions scout Russ Bolinger, who would come through to evaluate players in Baton Rouge fairly frequently and was impressed by Gase's knowledge. When Bolinger asked him if he wanted go back home to Michigan and work as a scouting assistant (another low-level position), it felt like the time to move on.

    "It was the right opportunity at the right time," Gase said, "and I had six months to make the most of it. And six months became a year, and a year became five years."

    Gase, typically, threw himself into his work, but the rigors of scouting did not feel as rewarding as coaching. There wasn't than interaction with the players, the ability to more directly impact a game, the chance to teach every day on the practice field. "We were a couple of games in, and I was like, this is tough being in personnel, because you feel like you're removed from it. You're not on that daily grind of practice and OTAs and minicamp and training camp."

    After two years in Detroit's scouting department, Gase ached to get back to coaching, his calling. He had become close with Lions running backs coach Tom Rathman, who wanted to make him an assistant with his position group ("I think he just wanted me to do his depth charts for him so he wouldn't have to do them," Gase joked). It was 2005, and Saban was about to head to the NFL himself (he coached the Miami Dolphins for two years), and Gase could have joined them there, but instead opted to knock on the door of Lions head coach Steve Mariucci to ask about the chance to work under Rathman.

    "He wasn't a complete stranger to me, it's not that I didn't know who he was," Mariucci said. "But he was on the scouting side and I had no idea what made him tick, so I said, 'OK, close the door and let's talk.' "And he made it clear he really had a passion for coaching and he had enough confidence that he could share that with him and ask me for my time, and I appreciated that too. So I learned a little bit more about him, that he was a Michigan State guy and he had been there with Saban, and I said, 'Yeah, this guy belongs in coaching rather than scouting right now."

    Of course, Mariucci was a Michigander himself, and his lifelong friend, Tom Izzo, is the basketball coach at Michigan State. "Yeah, the Michigan State thing helped, too -- if he was from some other place I'm not sure I would have given him the time of day," Mariucci quipped.

    But Mariucci was fired just after Thanksgiving of that 2005 season, and with that staff on the way out, Gase's future was in the balance. The Lions ended up hiring Rod Marinelli as head coach, who brought Martz as his offensive coordinator; Gase's ascent as a bright offensive mind was on the horizon. It was under Martz he would begin to learn the art of devising a

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  • #2
    Gase is a figurehead. Manning is the real OC
    "Happiness is just an illusion, filled with sadness and confusion." Jimmy Ruffin


    • #3
      Once you get the real story, you start to understand why Manning enjoys working with Gase.



      • #4
        Originally posted by HUMCALC View Post
        Gase is a figurehead. Manning is the real OC
        I don't necessarily agree. He has a good offensive mind and works good with Manning's drive.


        • #5
          Originally posted by johntbronco View Post
          I don't necessarily agree. He has a good offensive mind and works good with Manning's drive.
          OC and QB are two different jobs.

          The OC has the playbook and preseason installation schedule. On a weekly basis he works closely with the position coaches to plan practice in order to install the game plan which, in the case of Manning and Gase, has been jointly concocted. The most important offensive assistant coach is the OL coach because he devises the blocking schemes and adjustments for the rushing attack.

          Gase has coaches in the box who keep him informed of certain things like personnel packages and injuries. Gase has predetermined game-plan-centric information like plays cued to D&D, FP and Hash, that Manning needs to hear at the beginning of the forty second game clock.

          Peyton Manning has more input than any QB, but he isn't the OC. When O is on the sideline, we always see Adam Gase and Peyton Manning sitting side-by-side studying the EZ photos of the defensive alignments on the O. Each doing his own job.
          Last edited by samparnell; 01-30-2014, 05:41 AM.
          "Stultum est timere quod vitare non potes." ~ Publilius Syrus


          • #6
            Originally posted by HUMCALC View Post
            Gase is a figurehead. Manning is the real OC
            I think that is way off base. I haven't heard Manning and other players rave about an OC like they do about Gase. Even though Manning is a master at audibles and working the los, he has still benefited from having an aggressive and knowledgeable OC at the helm. I honestly think Gase has a very bright future ahead of him. He seems more humble than Mcdaniels for a young guy as well imo. I think he is going to make a hell of a coach one day.
            Backing Moreno, Ayers, and Smith for 09.
            Supporting this staff!
            Yes, I know my name is outdated, too lazy to care though hah = )