NEWARK, N.J. --If Adam Gase had not removed his name from consideration for the Cleveland Browns' coaching search, they might be the only NFL team without a head coach.
Instead, the Browns moved on to hire former Bills Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine, and Gase went right back to game-planning with an unhindered focus.
"With what's going on right now, it was just the right move for me," Gase said. "I appreciated Mr. (Jimmy) Haslam for giving me an opportunity to interview if that would have came about. I just thought it the fair thing to do was to focus on this game for our team and let them move on with their search."
It was inevitable that Gase would draw interest from other teams. Calling plays for the most prolific offense in NFL history will open a few doors. But Gase was so busy that he didn't pay the chatter much mind.
"I guess I didn't really think about it until it came up this year. It just wasn't the right time as far as the timing with us coming here and the focus that I wanted for this game," he said. "Whenever that comes about, I'll worry about it, but right now, it's on the backburner."
When Gase's name first started spinning around the rumor mill, chatter about his relative lack of coordination experience followed, since this was his only season running an NFL offense and calling plays.
But vast experience as a coordinator isn't a prerequisite. Other successful head coaches had limited or no work as an NFL coordinator. Kansas City's Andy Reid was a position coach, working with quarterbacks, when Philadelphia hired him in 1999. Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin only had one year as a defensive coordinator with the Vikings before the Steelers hired him in 2007.
Gase replied to the notion of being "ready" to be a head coach with characteristic candor.
"I mean, who's to say they're really ready for anything?" he said. "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."
What he's learned is massive, of course. Even before he came to the Broncos, he learned about organization and work ethic from Nick Saban at Michigan State and LSU, and offensive concepts from Steve Mariucci and Mike Martz while working with the Detroit Lions and for a year with the San Francisco 49ers.
Martz was the offensive coordinator and head coach of the St. Louis Rams during the "Greatest Show on Turf" years, and Gase noted that there's a "little bit" of the Martz scheme in what the Broncos do.
"I mean, we're such a mixture of a lot of different offenses," Gase said. "McCoy started this last year when Peyton came here, and then obviously Peyton brought a lot of his stuff from Indy, and my experience with Martz, we had a real mixture of offenses and we try to use as much as we can."
But what Gase learned from Martz that sticks with him is how he handles quarterbacks.
"He always told me (with) quarterbacks … your job was to make sure you put him in position and protect him at all costs, because at the end of the day, as coaches you tell the quarterback, 'Hey, this is what we're looking for,' and he tries to do it, and we've got to make sure that we're all on the same page," Gase said. "Sometimes somebody else makes a mistake, but your quarterback takes the heat for it, and you have to really be able to step in front of a bullet for him if need be."
That's what a good head coach does for all of his players, too. That puts Gase one step ahead for whenever he finally gets the chance to run an entire team.