UPDATE, 1/6/2016, 12:39 PM: Reports indicate Gase’s interview lasted eight hours, and that both sides “hit it off.” Game will be brought in for a second interview later this week, and, unless the other teams he meets “wow” him, he will sign with the Eagles, as Philadelphia appears to be his first choice.
We are currently living in the aftermath of Chip Kelly’s abrupt and unexpected release. This past Tuesday, after three seasons and a 26-21 record, Jeffrey Lurie decided that the Chip Kelly era was over. There are undoubtedly many reasons that Lurie fired Chip, but chief among them is the fact that his offense has declined each year that he had been at the helm. Kelly’s offense in terms of point differential went from being ranked 9th in 2013, to being ranked 8th in 2014, and then collapsed to 20th in 2015. This sharp decline, in combination with Kelly’s extremely questionable personnel decisions, has left a professional football coaching vacancy in the great city of Philadelphia.
Though Lurie’s decision has left the Eagles faithful polarized and has probably led to Heath Evans snickering and patting himself on the back while likely applying Bosley, one thing is for sure: Lurie must get the next coaching hire right.
Duce Staley, the current running backs coach for the Eagles, has already been interviewed and is a bright enough guy that he could potentially land an Offensive Coordinator gig sometime in the near future. That said, I don’t think that he will be the next head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. There have been a few names tossed around thus far for the vacancy by national and local media alike. Some names are intriguing, such as Sean McDermott, Matt Patricia, and Hue Jackson. Some names, like Doug Marrone and Doug Pederson, are not. However, each coaching class has a potential coach who is a little bit more coveted than the rest, a coach who is a bit “shinier” of a candidate, if you will. Last year it was either Dan Quinn or Todd Bowles, in 2014 it was Lovie Smith, and in 2013 it was the one and only Chip Kelly. But this year, the one candidate who is a bit more intriguing than everybody else in their coaching class is the Chicago Bears’ offensive coordinator, Adam Gase.
Adam Gase began his coaching career at LSU in 2000 acting as a recruiting assistant, and continued to scout players as he moved to the NFL. He jumped around between being an offensive assistant, a QB coach, and a WR coach for the Lions, 49ers, and Broncos before settling in as the offensive coordinator for the Broncos in 2013. He remained there for two seasons before heading to Chicago and calling plays under John Fox. While in Denver, Gase boasted the top ranked offense in the NFL in terms of Passing Yards, Total Yards, Points Scored, Touchdowns Scored, Point Differential, and Yardage Differential in 2014. Gase helped John Fox and Peyton Manning to lead the Broncos to contend for but ultimately lose the Super Bowl to a humming Seattle Seahawks team. In ‘14, he helped lead Denver to an AFC West Division championship. Their Total Yards and Points Scored stats dropped a bit from the year before, but Gase’s offense ranked in the top 5 for each of the offensive categories that they dominated in ‘13.
This past season, Gase followed Fox to Chicago and resurrected Jay Cutler and the Bears’ offense. Though Chicago has considerably less talent than Denver did during Gase’s tenure, the OC did the best with what he was given and managed to put together a decent season that has many pundits in Chicago and elsewhere believing in Jay Cutler again. Cutler’s interceptions went from 18 in ‘14 to just 11 this season under Gase. His passer rating was a career best 92.3 this past season, even after losing Brandon Marshall to the Jets and having to work with a decimated TE/WR group. Cutler himself is a massive fan of Gase and credits Gase with much of his relative success this season. A quote in the Chicago Sun Times reads,
Cutler said that Gase’s system — a blend of various offensive influences from Mike Martz to Josh McDaniels to Peyton Manning to the West Coast system — is “the best he’s been in his career.” Cutler also stated, “This would be the best [system] for a lot of quarterbacks… I don’t think there’s many quarterbacks that would come into this system and complain like, ‘Hey this is a bad system.’ It’s just not. I’ve been in quite a few. I feel like I have pretty good perspective on good systems and bad systems.” Cutler also seems to constantly compliment Gase on his energy and positivity, as well as his creativity and intelligence.
I personally believe that Adam Gase is the right choice going forward for the Philadelphia Eagles organization as a whole. Gase has, over time, revealed his personality to the Denver and Chicago media personnel, and is somebody that is willing to share his thoughts and feelings regarding football situations. He is not the type to answer questions with sassy remarks or some kind of weird entitlement, but rather the type of guy that will tell you the exact answer to the question that you asked. He is not cocky nor is he timid. He is confident in his abilities and sure of himself, but he also realizes that answering to the media is a part of the job. Gase is an incredibly well rounded candidate, and honestly should have been plucked up last year if he was available. He is one of the brightest minds in football and is still in his late thirties. He is known around the league to be a players coach and a quarterback guru. WIth those qualities, he can connect deeply with the men that he coaches which in turn creates a oneness between the roster and the coaching staff and consequently leads to communication, understanding, and ultimately, good football. There is not a sport on the face of this earth that requires more teamwork, communication, nuanced precision, or trust than American football given all of the moving parts. This notion is especially true at the NFL level.
That said, in order to ensure that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, a football team must mesh and gel together. And the only way for a team of grown men to gel and to be on the same page is for them to believe in their leader. Each practice, each meeting, each film session, and each and every snap in every single game must be executed in order to reach a common goal – the same goal that we all have for our Birds, a Super Bowl.
Jeffrey Lurie could not have been any clearer in his message to the media on Wednesday. He flat out said that the next head coach of the Eagles must be able to connect with his players, and understand the passion and knowledge that this city exudes for its beloved Philadelphia Eagles. Chip Kelly’s practices, err, training sessions, were often thought to be progressive, scientifically driven, different, impassioned, and difficult, but lacking the intensity and physicality that NFL practices often include.
In stark contrast, both Denver and Chicago players describe Gase as a passionate, motivated, driven coach both in practice and on game day. There have been multiple incidents regarding Gase’s commitment to his players not only as players, but as men. He has been described by former players as “compassionate and driven,” and by media members and coaches alike as “anything but complacent.”
If I were advising Mr. Lurie, I would say that Adam Gase definitely has a high level of emotional intelligence. For instance, he was truly devastated two seasons ago when Jordan Norwood tore his ACL and spent time consoling the young man right after it happened. He has constantly endeared himself to his players time and time again, and yet on the same token, he has had a mutual respect driven and results oriented relationship with not only QB Jay Cutler, but also with the future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning. Peyton has said in this past that Gase is a friend and somebody that he spends most of his time with during the season. He also said that Gase is somebody who “always has his priorities in order” and that he believes Gase is an excellent head coaching candidate. Peyton also added, “He deserves it, I think teams that he talks to will be impressed.”
Well, Adam Gase is expected to interview with our Philadelphia Eagles today, Tuesday, January 5th, 2015, and if we’re lucky, Gase will be just as impressed with the Eagles as they will likely be with him.
Photo: USA Today Sports