The Bears are playing John Fox’s former team Sunday.
They could, in theory, have been facing Adam Gase.
The Broncos offensive coordinator was the first person interviewed for the head coaching job made vacant in January when GM John Elway parted with Fox.
Gase rewrote the Broncos’ record book and received ringing endorsements from Peyton Manning. He made sense.
Gase, though, said this week that he never had a chance for the job that went to Gary Kubiak, Elway’s former backup quarterback and roommate on the road.
“They interviewed me,” the Bears’ coordinator said. “But I guess I just felt like it would be hard for me to say that I didn’t think Kubiak was going to get the job.”
Kubiak was a Broncos assistant for 10 years before coaching the Texans to a 61-64 record from 2006-13. As the Ravens’ offensive coordinator last year, he turned down head coaching interviews from the Bears and Jets.
The Broncos were another story.
“When the changes were made last year,” Gase said, “I felt like, when Kubiak’s name came up, I never thought (Gase getting the job) was a possibility.”
Gase looked at the Broncos interview as a way to get better at them. That skill will serve him well this offseason, when he’ll sit near the top of head coaching targets after harnessing Jay Cutler’s talent in a 4-5 season that’s trending upward.
“I really enjoyed watching our guys play last game,” he said. “I felt like there wasn’t anything called in that game that was a dynamic play-call.
“It was effort, it was attitude, it was unselfishness.”
Share Events on The CubeGase learned from his successes, and failures, in Denver.
“Anytime you lose, or you don’t accomplish what you want, I don’t think it’s ever easy, because you reflect and think of the things that you would have done different,” Gase said. “I think as the season went on, one thing — Elway always said to me when we lost, ‘Hey, you have to be the leader here. You have to get back on track faster than everybody else, and you have to get our guys better.’ …
“If we won a game, it was ‘Stay after them. Let’s get better. And let’s not get complacent.’
“That was always good for me to hear.”
Facing his old team will be strange for Gase — and the 13 other men inside Halas Hall who were in Denver last year — but he said he won’t have the time to think about it.
Every other week, it seems, brings connections. Before Game 6, he reunited with his first boss in Detroit; in Game 8, he played mentor Mike McCoy, the Chargers coach; and in two weeks, he’ll face the 49ers, for whom he was a head coaching finalist this offseason.
“You prepare for the game, you get to the game, the game starts, you start playing the game,” Gase said. “And I don’t think you really look at it like that until that game’s over.”
Bears linebacker Lamin Barrow, a Bronco last season, called Gase “an Albert Einstein” of offensive schemes. Defensive lineman Mitch Unrein, who played four seasons in Denver, said he’s still unable to figure out Gase’s offensive calls, even after hundreds of practices against him.
But both credit Gase’s outgoing personality for his popularity with players, even those on the other side of the ball. He successfully walks the line between chummy and respected, the way Fox does.
Gase should have been named the Broncos’ head coach last year, Barrow said.
He might get wish soon — albeit elsewhere.
“He was already familiar with the system that we had. I think he’d be a great player’s coach, also,” he said. “Of course, I want him here, but he’s definitely going to be a head coach in the near future.”
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