Balzer on NFL: Gase gets big gig; Brees will stay put

Howard Balzer

January 15, 2016 at 9:31 am.

Dec 27, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) talks with offensive coordinator Adam Gase during the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Gase (left) is now a head coach: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL hiring season for head coaches is nearly over, and the trend this time around is evident. The rush to hire head coaches with an offensive pedigree is obvious, and on one level it makes sense.

With developing a quarterback being on the top of the list of importance of teams, it seems to make sense to have the head coach be someone who cut his teeth as an offensive coordinator. Of course, it also has its drawbacks.

It’s hard enough for any assistant coach to make the transition to being in charge of the entire team and all the other responsibilities that come with it. Most notably game management. Plus, everything that happens within the team comes across his desk. The danger is when the head coach becomes so immersed in the offensive side of the ball that those other very important duties don’t get enough attention. Or, when some players wonder if the head coach is truly the head coach of the entire team.

Of course, one positive is that if success is achieved, the organization is not in danger of losing their offensive leader to another team looking for a head coach in the inevitable hiring cycle that occurs every year.

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had one of his better seasons in 2015 with Adam Gase as the team’s first-year offensive coordinator under new head coach John Fox (a defense-oriented coach). Gase is now head coach of the Miami Dolphins, and the Bears promoted quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains to coordinator. That was a smart move to hopefully achieve stability, but there’s no guarantee Loggains will be as effective as Gase was in the coordinator role.

Stability is what the New York Giants decided on with the ascension of offensive Ben McAdoo to head coach following the departure of Tom Coughlin. The same is true in Tampa Bay where the Buccaneers promoted Dirk Koetter to head coach after he did an excellent job with quarterback Jameis Winston in his rookie year. There are those that believe the Bucs jettisoned head coach Lovie Smith partly because they were fearful of losing Koetter to other teams looking for a head coach.

After the hiring of McAdoo, Giants quarterback Eli Manning said, “I’m excited. I’m excited for the Giants organization and for the team. I think coach McAdoo is a great coach, a great teacher, and will be a great leader of this team. I’m excited to continue to work with him and grow within this offense, and get this organization back where it needs to be.

“I think the Giants ownership made this decision on what’s best for the organization and best for the team. I think coach McAdoo has great leadership skills, and will do a great job being a head coach and leading us in the right direction. If a new offensive scheme came in, I would’ve adjusted to it and been able to go out there and play at a high level. I enjoy this offense, I enjoy working with coach McAdoo. I’m excited about that staying the same.”

Of the five teams that have officially hired head coaches, all have backgrounds on offense. In addition to the Giants, Dolphins and Buccaneers, San Francisco named Chip Kelly, who was fired as Philadelphia’s head coach with one game remaining in the season, while Cleveland hired Hue Jackson, formerly the offensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Eagles announced they had concluded their coaching search with the belief the new head coach will be Doug Pederson, Kansas City’s offensive coordinator. Pederson isn’t able to be hired until the Chiefs conclude their season.

Left without a head coach are the Tennessee Titans, with speculation after the addition of Jon Robinson as general manager that interim head coach Mike Mularkey (you guessed it, an offensive coach) will become the head coach entrusted with the continued coaching of Marcus Mariota.

The next big questions will be whether Kelly believes he can resurrect the career of Colin Kaepernick; if Jackson wants any part of Johnny Manziel and if the Eagles will re-sign Sam Bradford.

One thing is certain: For any of the new head coaches to have any chance of success, finding that quarterback will be the key.

Brees Going Nowhere

Throughout the 2015 season, a day hardly went by without speculation about the futures of New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees.

Numerous landing spots were mentioned for Payton, who supposedly was looking to depart the bayou. Brees has a scheduled cap charge of $30 million in 2016, the final year of his contract, that includes a $19.75 million base salary and $10 million signing bonus proration. He is also entering the final year of his contract and turned 37 last Friday (Jan. 15).

Most of the speculation vanished three days after the end of the regular season when it was announced Payton would return. Then, a week later, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Brees isn’t going anywhere.

Said Loomis, “I know this: Drew’s going to be our quarterback. We’ll figure out how we’re going to handle the contract, whether it stays the same and just remains right in place, or whether we do something different. That’s all part of what we’ve got to figure out in the coming weeks.”

It’s All About the Cheese

When NFL players miss practice because of an illness, the actual ailment is rarely revealed. Not so last week with Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, who missed practice on the Wednesday before the team’s playoff game against the Steelers, and then opened up the next day about it.

Turns out Miller claimed he had gone to see Star Wars the day before and munched on some movie theatre fried mozzarella sticks along with an Icee. Bad choice apparently. Miller said he got sick during the movie and was still feeling the effects the next day. Coaches sent him home, but he was back working Thursday.

Miller told reporters, “It did me bad. I learned my lesson. I learned that yesterday. I’m back to normal now. I’m ready to go.”

Citing the snack as the true culprit, Miller added, “Mozzarella sticks; you can’t put just regular gas in a Ferrari. The force struck back.”

Of course, he shouldn’t have been surprised. In the past, Miller revealed that teammates fine themselves for passing gas in meetings and he admitted being fined more than anyone. He once said, “They can’t fine me if I get up and walk away. It’s not healthy. I keep trying to tell them it’s not healthy if I just sit there and hold it in. Nobody in the world does that. I just do it more than the average person.”

Seems Miller isn’t paying attention to the nutrition advice that players receive from their teams.