Packers Head Coach Candidate: Adam Gase
The Packers certainly have a type. So far in their coaching search, they’ve targeted more than a few former head coaches, albeit pretty unsuccessful ones. Adam Gase is the third former head coach the team has interviewed whose cumulative head coaching record is under .500.
But there’s more to a head coach than his record, and Gase is proof. He’s coached some of the highest of high-end offenses and even wrung a decent enough season out of Jay Cutler.
However, even in that scenario, there’s a flip-side. Gase’s best offensive seasons came with Peyton Manning running the show. Is Gase really a great offensive mind or just a product of his circumstances?
The details on Adam Gase
Most recent job: Head Coach, Miami Dolphins (2016-2018)
Record as a head coach: 23-25
First job: Recruiting Assistant, Louisiana State University
Packers connection: Gase worked for former Packers quarterbacks coach Steve Mariucci in Detroit and employed former Packers defensive backs coach Joe Vitt as a consultant while he was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
The background on Adam Gase
Like his colleague and future boss Josh McDaniels, Gase’s professional journey began under Nick Saban. Gase connected with Saban at Michigan State in 1999, following Saban to LSU when Saban took the head coaching job there in 2000 and working under him through the 2002 season.
From there, Gase jumped to the NFL, taking a scouting assistant position with the Detroit Lions. He worked that job for two seasons before transitioning to coaching. He worked as an offensive assistant for Steve Mariucci in 2005 and stayed in the same capacity under Mike Martz in 2006 before taking over as the Lions’ quarterbacks coach for the 2007 season.
When Martz joined the San Francisco 49ers as their offensive coordinator in 2008, Gase followed, working that year as an offensive assistant. A year later, when Josh McDaniels was named the head coach of the Denver Broncos, he hired Gase as his wide receivers coach.
Gase worked under McDaniels for two tumultuous seasons and survived the explosive end of McDaniels’ tenure there, taking over as the team’s quarterbacks coach in 2011. At that point, Gase’s star truly began to rise. He helped steer Tim Tebow to his most productive year as a pro that season, then connected with perhaps the most prestigious pupil imaginable the next season when Peyton Manning signed with the Broncos.
Still a quarterbacks coach, Gase helped Manning achieve a league-leading 68.6% completion rate that season. That was just a warmup. In 2013, Gase was promoted to offensive coordinator and his partnership with Manning really took off. That season, Manning led the NFL in passing attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns, yards per game, and QBR. His passer rating of 115.1 was the second highest mark of his illustrious career. Unfortunately, the Manning’s strong season didn’t carry through to the Super Bowl. The Seahawks blew the Broncos clear off the field in Super Bowl XLVIII, crushing Manning and Gase 43-8.
Gase and Manning collaborated on another strong season in 2014, but playoff success again did not follow. The Broncos fell to the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional Round, ending what would turn out to be Gase’s last year in Denver. Head coach John Fox was fired after the season, and Gase followed him to his next gig in Chicago, signing on as offensive coordinator for the 2015 season.
With the Bears, Gase faced a much more challenging assignment: corralling Jay Cutler, a significantly looser cannon than Peyton Manning. To the extent that such a thing is possible, Gase succeeded in getting Cutler at least pointed in the right direction. That year, Cutler posted a career-high 92.4 passer rating, completed 64.4% of his passes, and threw just 11 interceptions, the lowest total of his career for a season in which he played more than ten games.
Perhaps off the strength of his work with Cutler, Gase interviewed for and was offered the head coach position with the Miami Dolphins in 2016. Though the Dolphins went to the playoffs his first year at the helm, Gase’s tenure in Miami was largely unremarkable. Characterized by generally weak offenses, Gase’s Dolphins posted a 23-25 cumulative record as Gase was unable to duplicate his previous quarterback coaching success. He was fired after the 2018 season.
Adam Gase’s biggest moment
Though the season ended with the biggest possible disappointment, it’s hard to ignore just how good Gase’s offense performed with Peyton Manning in 2014. Manning posted astonishing numbers that year, and no game was better than his career-best 479-yard day against the Cardinals.
In Adam Gase’s own words
Gase’s partnership with Peyton Manning is obviously a professional high. We’ve circled back to it several times, and for good reason: there is serious mutual respect between the two.
In the lead up to the Broncos’ Super Bowl matchup with the Seahawks, Manning called Gase “the smartest guy I know.” Gase said he had to be to keep up with Manning.
"The way he looked at the game makes you look at the game different as a coach," Gase told the Chicago Tribune in 2015. "You talk about going into a meeting room and preparing for the fact that he may ask you a question. Are you prepared for it or not? Are you going to have an answer for him? He doesn't do it just to do it. He has legitimately thought through things — 'Hey, what if they do this?' You've got to be on it.
"The way the NFL is right now, the players are so smart, there is so much access to film, there is so much access to information. You have to be sharp to be good, and these guys can talk football. And most of the really, really good ones love it so much that they know what the coaches know."
What are the chances Adam Gase is the next Packers head coach?
Jon’s Rating: 1/5
If you’re at all concerned about the optics of hiring an NFL retread, Adam Gase is not the head coaching candidate for you.
Gase’s three years at the helm in Miami were a disappointing slog. The Dolphins spiraled slowly downward after their 10-6 effort in Gase’s first year, and Gase’s offenses have consistently underwhelmed dating back to his time as the Chicago Bears’ offensive coordinator. For a supposedly brilliant offensive mind, Gase’s units seem to get worse every year. His team’s ranking in total offense (an admittedly flawed ranking, to be sure) declined each season over the last four.
To be sure, he’s spent those last four years working with a semi-retired Jay Cutler and a perpetually injured Ryan Tannehill, but there are coaches doing more with less throughout the league.
The Packers are supposedly interested in Gase, but I would much rather see them try something new. Gase is a pretty known commodity, and what we know isn’t great.
However, Gase presents an interesting candidate as a potential offensive coordinator, and there are some noteworthy dots to connect between Gase and Josh McDaniels. Gase worked under McDaniels in Denver, and although the Packers were reportedly interested in Gase for some time, it’s interesting that they didn’t formally request a conversation with him until after they spoke with McDaniels on the morning of January 4.
If we believe the thesis that the Packers have been using these interviews to feel out potential members of a coaching staff in Green Bay, they could be speaking with Gase this weekend in hopes of seeing if he’d be interested in working under McDaniels again. Giving your future head coach staff members he’s familiar with is never a bad move.
Gary’s Rating: 2/5
There’s at least a touch of irony in the Packers replacing Mike McCarthy with the head coach from the last team McCarthy’s Packers beat, Adam Gase.
Most offenses in the NFL today can trace their ancestry to one of three schemes: the West Coast, the Air Coryell, or the Erhardt-Perkins scheme. Gase has the unique distinction of coaching for offenses in all three schemes – along with experiencing success in all three schemes.
In the early years of his career, Gase taught the West Coast scheme under Mariucci. Then, his new boss Mike Martz ran the Air Coryell offense. Five years into Gase’s NFL coaching career, he was hired by Josh McDaniels and his Erhardt-Perkins scheme.
The Packers would be well served to have an offensive mind like Gase’s in the building, as they experienced firsthand both in his time as the Bears offensive coordinator and the Dolphins head coach. Cutler’s only interception-free game against the Packers came with Gase calling the plays, and Gase managed to keep quarterback Brock Osweiler away from disastrous plays against the Packers this year.
Historically, a head coach like Gase would take a year or two to rebuild their reputation as a coordinator before jumping into their second gig as a head coach. As Jon mentioned above, that could be part of why the Packers are meeting with him. Given the weak group of candidates this year and eight open jobs, however, Gase may be able to skip the rehabilitation step and go straight to another team.