The Packers' firing of Mike McCarthy was not unexpected. As I've written, after a dismal home loss to the Arizona Cardinals (a 3-13 team that will hold the number one overall pick in 2019's draft), for better or for ill, McCarthy's fate was all but sealed.
And with that, comes the aftermath. Most immediately, following the Packers' 6-9-1 finish, Green Bay has set about finding a new head coach. Many questions of salaries and draft strategies and offensive and defensive schema remain, but first a team needs its coach. After all, CEO Mark Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst can only answer so many of those technical questions.
The Packers were one of the first teams to get in on the search, interviewing former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell. Other candidates include current interim head coach Joe Philbin, New England linebackers coach Brian Flores, New Orleans assistant head coach and tight ends coach Dan Campbell, Tennessee offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, Pittsburgh offensive line coach Mike Munchak, New Orleans offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Jr., and of course, the man many see to be the clear favorite for the job, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
And while that is a robust list of names, and while that robust list does in fact prove that the Packers are prepared to leave no stone unturned in searching for their man, there is one name that has, curiously, not generated great interest from the organization up until now; one name, that I believe would be a cut above the rest.
That name is Adam Gase.
Now, understand this: what I feel about Gase is not guaranteed. I'm not saying for sure Gase would be a better head coach than LaFleur or Munchak or Campbell or even McDaniels. What I am saying is that Gase is a very, very good football coach, and he should be getting much more consideration from the Packers, especially given his coaching history.
Adam Gase is the recently fired head coach of the Miami Dolphins. And while it might be unsavory in some circles to hire a man who just recently lost his job because of, allegedly, poor performance, if you truly understand Gase's story, things become clear.
Gase first rose to prominence on John Fox's staff with the Denver Broncos. As their offensive coordinator, he helped engineer Peyton Manning's recordbreaking 2013 season, in which the future Hall of Famer threw for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns, both NFL records.
Following John Fox to Chicago, Gase helped bring about a renaissance in Jay Cutler's career, helping the oft-maligned Bears quarterback throw for only 11 interceptions (a career low for him in a full season) and a 92.3 passer rating (a career high).
Subsequently, Gase spent his last three years in Miami, working with another poorly viewed quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. Again, in 2016, Gase's first season with the Dolphins, Tannehill was rejuvenated, marking career highs in completion percentage (67.1%), average yards per attempt (7.7), and passer rating (93.5).
If you need me to spell it out any more clearly for you, I'm honestly not sure how. All the latest buzz in the NFL lately seems to be around finding the greatest young, offensive-minded coach and committing to him wholesale. Adam Gase is 40, and there is abundant evidence to assert that he is, in fact, the quarterback guru half of the league claims to be and the other half wishes they were. The man limited Jay Cutler (that's right, Jay Cutler) to only 11 interceptions over 15 games. He helped engineer what is arguably the greatest season by not just a quarterback, but an entire offense, in 2013. And he even managed to make Ryan Tannehill look pretty decent…when he was healthy.
Health was part of Gase's kryptonite in Miami, as things turned out. Tannehill wound up missing the end of the 2016 and entire 2017 season due to ACL injuries, forcing the Dolphins to turn to Gase's old partner in crime in the almost-retired Cutler. However, given the chaotic nature of the NFL, there was much less gold for Gase to mine a second time around, with 2017 ending up a lost season. Continuing the downward trend, in 2018 Tannehill's statistics dropped as he missed another five games with a shoulder injury.
The other factor that contributed to Gase's unsuccessful time with the Dolphins seems to be a bane that haunts many head coaches who wind up in similar situations: control of personnel.
See, aside from the very select few coaches, such as Bill Belichick or Pete Carroll, saddling a head coach with the responsibility of not only designing a roster, but coaching it, can prove lethal. It happened to Chip Kelly with the Eagles. It happened to Mike Sherman in Green Bay. Football minds becoming overwhelmed by the dual roles of general manager and head coach is a storyline that's been written before. And, according to the Miami Herald, something similar happened with Gase, as he and owner Stephen Ross clashed over the nature of the Dolphins roster, which often consisted of only bargain players on the offensive side of the ball.
That being said, there wouldn't be any danger of something similar cropping up in Green Bay, given the recent hiring of Gutekunst and the restructuring undertaken by Murphy.
While Dolphins management might've been ready to move on from Adam Gase, and while parts of the league may have forgotten about the onetime wunderkid, it seems that others haven't. Gase is interviewing for both the Cardinals' and Jets' open head coaching positions.
And apparently, the Packers have given him consideration too, adding Gase to their already lengthy docket of head coach interviews.
Personally, there are a number of qualified candidates to fill the job in Green Bay. Many inquiries will come knocking due to Aaron Rodgers and the legacy he's already built for himself and his team in Titletown. But it's precisely because of Rodgers that the Packers should hold off on making the "obvious" choice of hiring someone like Josh McDaniels: Rodgers doesn't just need someone who can make him better than he's ever been, but someone who can make him the best he's ever been.
And while McDaniels' track record is nothing to sneeze at with Tom Brady in New England, his poor stint with the Broncos and then with the Rams (who had the worst offense in the NFL with him at the helm in 2011), combined with the otherwise dismal history of Bill Belichick's disciples faring poorly away from Foxborough, I can't help but be anxious.
With Gase, all of that anxiety disappears.
Aaron Rodgers is a quarterback in the twilight of his career, there is no denying. At 35 years old, he may have five or six good years left, but beyond that the waters are murky. Why not pair him with the man who has made a living out of reviving quarterbacks who are at the end of things, such as Manning and Cutler?
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