ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The Broncos knew Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase would be targeted for head-coaching positions this offseason, and on Monday, the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers reportedly asked the Broncos for permission to interview the second-year coordinator.
Teams can interview the assistant coaches of clubs that have a first-round bye during the wild-card weekend, and Head Coach John Fox will not stand in the way -- although representatives of those teams will have to fly to Denver to talk to Gase or anyone else on the Broncos' staff they would choose to interview.
"It'll be done in a way that they have to come here and they won't bother our coaches as far as their prep and all their focus is on what we are trying to accomplish," Fox said.
But Fox has always kept an open door for his assistants to leave for the top job elsewhere, knowing the benefits of creating an environment of upward mobility outweigh the detriments of losing top assistants from your staff.
"We've always been open to [that]," Fox said. "When you get the opportunity to go from coordinator to head coach, it's something where you get the right to do that. It's not our first rodeo that way; we've been through this many times."
Two of Fox's coordinators have left for head-coaching positions in his four seasons with the Broncos: defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to Oakland after the 2011 season, and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy to the San Diego Chargers a year later.
Gase completed his sixth year on the staff in 2014, having served as the team's wide receivers coach and quarterbacks coach before moving to the coordinator role in 2013 after McCoy's departure.
A year ago, the Cleveland Browns reached out to Gase, but he chose to wait until after the postseason ended. In the interim, they hired Mike Pettine, then the Buffalo Bills' defensive coordinator. Gase later said that turning down the Browns "was the right move for me."
At the time, Gase was asked whether he was "ready" to be a head coach. His reply was typically forthright.
"I mean, who's to say they're really ready for anything?" he said then. "When those opportunities come up, and you decide that this is the right move for me, then you go ahead and jump in and just do what you've learned to do."
In recent years, he has earned respect around the league for his work with Manning, his role with McCoy in helping craft a workable offense for Tim Tebow by overhauling it midway through the 2011 season to suit Tebow's strengths, and, finally, his adaptability to a more run-centric approach late this season.
"He's a coach that you want to play hard for," said quarterback Brock Osweiler. "He comes in, and he treats you with respect. He makes it fun to come to work, and he's brilliant at what he does; he really knows what he's talking about.
"For all of those reasons, and so many more, you just really want to play great for him, and you want to make him look good."
If a team hires Gase, they might wonder what type of coach they're getting. Running back C.J. Anderson has the answer.
"They'll get somebody very determined, very ready to go," he said. "Coach Gase is just tremendous. He's going to make the decision that is best for him and his family.
"He knows the game so well. He's so smart. If someone gets him, they'll be very lucky."
"If he's given a great opportunity, shoot, he's got to take it. But I've built a great relationship with him, and I believe in him," Osweiler added. "I would love to have the opportunity to keep playing for him."
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