As we move on in our exploration of head coaching candidates, we will take a look at another coach that should be a very hot commodity in about a month and a half--Adam Gase. He is a young coach that has been very successful as an offensive coordinator, and with his most recent success in Chicago, his arrow is pointing up. On a personal level, anyone that follows me on Twitter knows that Gase is my current favorite for the job. While there are a number of reasons for that, here are some of the most important:
Titans' Vision: After Ken Whisenhunt was fired, Steve Underwood came out and was available to the media. In an interview on a local radio station, 104.5 The Zone, he indicated that Titans' ownership would be looking for an offensive mind to pair with Marcus Mariota. I know that a few weeks back in the Jim Schwartz post I was an advocate of finding the best overall candidate wherever that may be, but it is pretty easy to understand the Titans' line of thinking. They have made it abundantly clear that Mariota is the face of the franchise and the key to future success, and a smart offensive mind with a great relationship with Mariota would provide consistency, and very well could take him to the next level.
QB Rapport: With that in mind, this makes Gase an ideal candidate. Wherever he is coaching, he always seems to develop a great rapport with his quarterbacks. Peyton Manning loved working with him, and now by all accounts, he's developed a nice rapport with Jay Cutler in Chicago, where he is playing the best football of his career. He gives them a lot of freedom and responsibility at the line of scrimmage, placing a lot of importance on pre-snap reads. If you have watched Philip Rivers in San Diego at the line before the play in recent years under Mike McCoy, you should have a good idea of the kind of responsibility quarterbacks have under Gase. It makes sense, considering Gase worked under Mccoy in Denver--more on that later. This is one of many areas where Marcus Mariota excels. Ken Whisenhunt mentioned his "spatial memory" several times during the pre-draft process. He is a student of the game with an elite football mind. Pairing him with Gase could take him to another level as he develops over the years. Think of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL--all of them have complete control at the line of scrimmage. Mariota could be the next to do this.
Manning Stamp Of Approval: Considering the fact that there seems to be an oddly large amount of Titans fans that want Peyton Manning to step off of the field and immediately take over an NFL franchise for some reason, this could be significant: Manning loves him. Last year, when Gase was up for some head coaching positions, Manning went to bat for him a number of times. He praised his football smarts among a number of other characteristics. In one interview, he said that Gase was "the smartest guy I know." Others, including Nick Saban and John Elway were high on Gase as well. In fact, Elway called him a "genius." While outsiders going to bat for guys that they worked with is nothing new and nothing to put a significant amount of stock into--Tony Dungy is a huge fan of Jim Caldwell--it is definitely worth noting that so many of the great football minds that we've ever seen are so high on Gase.
No Loggains? No Problem: As I mentioned earlier, I have been talking up Gase on Twitter for a couple of weeks now. One of the concerns brought up by a few people in response was his relationship with Dowell Loggains. He works under Gase now in Chicago, and some people have speculated that he may come work under Gase wherever he goes, and this turned some Titans fans off. However, it would be surprising to see Loggains leave Jay Cutler after a year. It has been known for a while now that the two have a great relationship, and they have been trying to link up for years. Their relationship is the main reason Loggains is in Chicago now. Odds are that he would stay and likely get promoted to offensive coordinator after Gase leaves.
Flexibility: Whenever a team moves on from a coach or a quarterback, they tend to seek out the opposite of what they just had. A lot was made of Ken Whisenhunt's inflexibility and stubbornness, which was ultimately his undoing. Gase is on the other side of the spectrum. He is very flexible, creative, and puts his players in the best spots to succeed. For example, with Matt Forte out, the Bears have turned to rookie Jeremy Langford who is performing at a high level, not only on the ground, but catching the ball out of the backfield as well. Does anyone think this would have happened under Whisenhunt? Gase knows what his players do well and knows the weak spots of the opponent's defense. It goes a long way towards putting players in positions to succeed. I cannot recommend this reading on his scheme enough. Another example that goes back to his time under Mike McCoy in Denver is the Tim Tebow experience. In the middle of the season, when the team went with Tebow, the Broncos scrapped the whole offense and went with an entirely new approach on the fly, leading to a playoff run. This was textbook flexibility and creativity. Gase would be a breath of fresh air after what we just experienced with the previous coach.
Gase will be a very hot candidate, especially if Jay Cutler continues to play well. A lot of people questioned how much of his success was due to Peyton Manning, but that talk has completely stopped. Gase is an exceptional offensive mind that would be great for Marcus Mariota. If the Titans are trying to find someone to pair Mariota with, they should look no further.