Following the 2013 season, a buddy of mine ran into a Broncos player at a booster event for a major university. My friend had one question for the player: What is it like to play with Peyton Manning? His response was he doesn’t play with Manning, he plays for Manning. He said Manning was the team’s head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback. Everything they did revolved around what Manning wanted them to do.
John Fox was a successful head coach before he ever coached Manning. There are no questions about him. Adam Gase, however, is still a mystery that could prove crucial to the Bears season.
Everyone in Denver was forced to learn Manning’s offense, coaches included. It was very different from what the Broncos ran before Manning got there and different from what their former offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, runs in San Diego. Gase didn’t call plays as Broncos OC. He suggested them.
This is why play-calling may be the biggest issue facing the 2015 Bears offense. There are conflicting reports to what Gase’s role in Denver actually was on a down-to-down basis. But the world knows if Manning didn’t like a play, he didn’t run it. Jay Cutler needs more guidance and Gase, a Mike Martz protege, can’t ask him to fall back into the trap of seven-step drops and holding the ball. Cutler is not Kurt Warner. He’s certsinly not Peyton Manning.
Calling plays is an art few completely master. (This is why retreads like Chan Gailey keep getting work.) Assuming health, the Bears offense should be good regardless of who their coordinator is. They just have to stay reasonably healthy and the offensive coordinator just has to not screw it up; both major issues in The Season That Never Happened.
What if Gase really is as great an offensive mind as many seem to think? If he is the offensive wizard many considered for head coaching vacancies, how dangerous can the Bears offense be? If Gase is an elite offensive coordinator, he should be able to maximize the Bears talent – and their offense should carry them to a winning record.
For now, Gase remains a mystery. But one that could be exciting to solve.