With young quarterbacks around the NFL in need of grooming and others who need to re-establish themselves, Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase figures to be a hot commodity again this offseason.
If quarterback Jay Cutler continues to thrive in Gase’s offensive system, other NFL teams will be knocking down Gase’s door to win him over.
‘‘That stuff is so far away,’’ Gase said Friday at Halas Hall. ‘‘Right now, we need to focus on winning games. [The offseason is] the furthest thing from my mind right now.’’
Gase made similar comments to the Sun-Times before the season. He’s trying to formulate and run the Bears’ offense the best he can. That’s his focus.
‘‘For me to look any further,’’ he said then, ‘‘it’s not fair to our players who are putting in so much time and effort to make this thing right.’’
With every snap, possession and game, Cutler looks right. He continues to build his case to remain the Bears’ quarterback in 2016. But that’s with Gase’s tutelage and within Gase’s offense. What if Gase leaves? What happens then?
It’s only Week 9, but the coaching carousel already is spinning and only will gain steam. The Dolphins and Titans have fired their coaches, Joe Philbin and Ken Whisenhunt. Jim Caldwell is probably a lame-duck coach with the Lions after ownership said goodbye to general manager Martin Mayhew and president Tom Lewand. There also might be an opening with the Colts, who are struggling under coach Chuck Pagano and already have dismissed offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
There will be more openings, too. There always are. But those four teams already have intriguing quarterbacks who could attract a young offensive mind such as Gase.
Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill seemingly would stand to benefit from a play-caller such as Gase. Pairing Luck with Gase, who was influenced by Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and has worked with Peyton Manning, could be
a scary thought for the rest of the AFC.
Gase, though, isn’t worried about replacing Pagano at the moment. He’s focused on beating his brother, Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, on Monday in San Diego.
‘‘Going against coach Pagano is always tough,’’ Gase said. ‘‘You feel like you’re playing a game of Battleship sometimes. You’re not really sure what’s going on.’’
Chargers coach Mike McCoy can say similar things about Gase, who alters his offense from week to week. Gase was the Broncos’ quarterbacks coach for two seasons under McCoy, who was their offensive coordinator before leaving for the Chargers.
‘‘His football knowledge, his ability to adjust as the season went on and during games . . . I was fortunate to have him,’’ McCoy said. ‘‘Obviously, his success after I left speaks for itself.’’
Gase interviewed for head-coaching jobs last offseason and appeared to have the 49ers’ job until they took more steps toward becoming the disaster they have been this season. Gase has said the experience made him appreciate what Bears coach John Fox is able to do when working with players.
Fox, who is on his third team, said it’s important for coaches to have ‘‘the right [opportunity] at the right time.’’ That said, the Lions might stick out for Gase, considering that’s where his NFL career began and that he’s from Michigan.
If Gase leaves, Fox’s history of hiring well should give the Bears confidence that Gase can be replaced. But there’s no denying that Gase is special — perhaps even irreplaceable if Cutler returns.
‘‘He’ll make a great head coach,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘He proves that daily out here just in his detail. Being around Fox the last three, four or five years, he’s seen how to do it the right way. . . . Offensively, he’s one of the best in the league, too. If he does get his shot, it’s going to be well-deserved.’’
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