JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, at just 35 years old, had two teams request to interview him for vacant head coaching positions this postseason: Cleveland and Minnesota.
Gase, though, declined to meet during Denver’s playoff run and eventually withdrew from consideration with the Browns completely. And while both positions have since been filled, many believe it is just a matter of time before he leads his own NFL team.
“He’s a very capable, bright guy,” said defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio of Gase. “I’m sure at some point we’ll be lining up against each other, both in charge of two teams.”
Not bad for someone who was admittedly “terrible” at playing the game and nearly ended his coaching career not long after it began.
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Smart. Creative. That’s how the Broncos describe Gase.
“I’ve learned so much from him,” said receiver Demaryius Thomas, “not just about receiving, but football in general.”
Quarterback Peyton Manning, known perhaps as the most cerebral player in NFL history, told Sports Illustrated: “I really like Gase. I like playing for guys that are smarter than me and work as hard as me. Gase is there before I get there in the morning.”
Gase was promoted to his position before the 2013 season, after previously serving as Denver’s quarterbacks coach (2011-12) and receivers coach (2009-10). The Michigan State alum never played in college or professionally and first started coaching as a student assistant with the Spartans before following coach Nick Saban to Louisiana State.
Oddly, Gase nearly quit in 2001 when he “may or may not” have been nearly kicked out of grad school. He even came close to accepting a job as an insurance salesman.
“Thankfully, three buddies from college talked me out of it,” Gase said.
It didn’t take long to work his way from a scouting assistant up the NFL coaching ranks, starting in Detroit (2003-07) and San Francisco (2008). Fast forward to guiding perhaps the best offense in league history, which set records with 606 points and 76 touchdowns this season, and there is only one step left — one he turned down the chance for in recent weeks.
“It was very flattering, but at the end of the day, I was focused on what we were trying to do with the Denver Broncos,” Gase said. “I felt like I owed our players on offense my full attention to do my job. It was going to be hard for me to say, ‘I’m going to go interview,’ (then) step in front of them and say, ‘Hey, our mission is to go to the Super Bowl and win it.’
“I felt like the best thing for me to do was say, ‘You know what? I’m going to put this thing on hold.’ ”
The perfect receiver?
The same week Manning described his “perfect” quarterback, using various traits from NFL legends, Broncos tight end Julius Thomas did the same with receivers.
“I’d probably say Jerry Rice’s route-running ability, probably Randy Moss’ big-play ability, and maybe Chris Carter’s hands,” Thomas said. “I think with those three combined, that would be a dangerous receiving option.”
Star on field and screen
Receiver Eric Decker and his wife, country/pop singer Jessie James, starred in a reality television series during the season, called “Eric and Jessie: Game On.” It has been such a hit on the E network that it has been picked up for a second season.
The couple also has their first child on the way, a daughter.
“Across my life, these last two years just have been unbelievable,” Decker said. “It’s almost surreal and after this game, if we are successful, I think I’ll look back and just kind of soak everything in of how lucky and how blessed I’ve been to have so many great things happen in my life in a short time.”
• Super Bowls aren’t known to have very hostile environments, but even if they did, it wouldn’t compare to a high-school rivalry game Shaun Phillips experienced once in New Jersey: “The thing I remember more than anything … is people throwing bricks at the bus. It was unbelievable. I had never seen anything like that before.”
• Demaryius Thomas, when asked who would win a 40-yard race between him, Decker, Julius Thomas and Wes Welker wasn’t shy. “Me first,” he said. “I’m not going to say by a lot. Decker has a quick takeoff; he always beats me off the ball. Decker second and Julius, then Welker.”
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.