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Cleveland Browns Coaching Search: Getting to Know the Top Contenders

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1. Adam Gase –  Offensive Coordinator, Denver Broncos

Status: Not yet interviewed.

Resume: At just 34 years of age, Gase has 9 years of NFL experience and 3 years on the college level as a graduate assistant with Nick Saban at LSU. Gase spent 2003-2007 with the Detroit Lions as a scouting assistant, offensive assistant, and quarterbacks coach.  In 2008, Gase was hired by the San Francisco 49ers under head coach Mike Nolan as an offensive assistant.

Gase then followed Nolan to Denver in 2009 and has been a part of two different regimes and still managed to work his way up from a wide receivers coach, to quarterbacks coach, and was eventually named offensive coordinator following the 2012 season after his predecessor Mike McCoy was hired to replace Norv Turner as head coach in San Diego.

The 2013 season was one for the record books for Gase, Manning, and the Broncos offense, as the unit set NFL records for points scored(606), total touchdowns(76), first downs passing(293), players with 10 or more touchdowns(5), games with 50+ points(3), and second half points(318).

Personality: Gase is a natural leader. A coach that players from both sides of the football gravitate to. He has drawn high praise from Peyton Manning for his preparation and ability to call a game offensively. His charisma and understanding of the game are two key components that have led to his climb up the coaching ladder to become one of the brightest young minds in the NFL. Gase has shown an ability to adapt to different skill sets and personality types by having great success finding ways to win with Tim Tebow in 2011 and then with Peyton Manning the last two years. That type of versatility is essential in the ever evolving NFL.

Schematic Preference: It remains to be seen what type of scheme Gase would run if were to get the head coaching job in Cleveland. His only season as an offensive coordinator came after taking over the Peyton Manning led offense in Denver after Mike McCoy left for San Diego in early 2013. Gase will more than likely design his offense around the talent which Cleveland has in place, with on going tweaks here and there depending on what player the team ultimately settles on as their franchise quarterback.

With Gase specializing entirely on the offensive side of the football, a veteran defensive coordinator would be ideal. Gase has coached with teams that have run both a 4-3(Detroit/Denver) and 3-4(San Fran/Denver) defensive scheme, so whomever the Browns tab to run the defense may have just as much say in the matter as Gase himself.

Free Agency Impact: Considering the current needs of the Cleveland Browns and their ample salary cap room, Gase could fill a few holes with some of his current players. Gase was the wide receivers coach in Denver in 2010 when the Broncos used their 3rd round pick on Eric Decker. Decker is enjoying a career year for the Broncos and with Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Julius Thomas already in the fold, the Broncos may not have the available cap space to lock him up long term. Knowshon Moreno is another player who could be looking to move on after the Broncos have used multiple day 2 picks the past two years to acquire running back talent. Moreno, much like Decker, would fill an immediate need in Cleveland and serve as a nice upgrade to the rushing attack.

Last but not least, offensive guard Zane Beadles could also be a target of the Browns under Gase. Beadles was a 2nd rounder in 2010 and could be looking for a nice pay day. Given the presence of Gase and former Utah Ute teammate Paul Kruger, the Browns may have an inside track for the one of the top free agent guards available. Obviously, the Browns are not going to only target former Denver players but bringing in talented veterans familiar with the scheme is largely beneficial to the locker room and the coaching staff while implementing their systems.

Draft Impact: If the Browns do indeed have Gase targeted as their first option at head coach, then Cleveland would almost assuredly go offense heavy in the draft. With Gase having success as a quarterback coach with adapting to the different talents of both Tebow and Manning, you can not rule out any of the top prospects if they were to fall to the 4th pick. While anyone could seemingly run a successful offense with Peyton Manning at the helm, it is important to remember the success the Broncos had with Tim Tebow in 2011 because of a potential selection of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel at the 4th pick. This is not a comparison of NFL ability between the two, as I believe Manziel is a superior quarterback prospect to Tim Tebow in every way on the football field outside of size and strength, but it is important because Manziel is not a typical pocket passer and will need to be supported by a strong running game and a creative coaching staff.

As for some of the remaining needs the Browns could look to address offensively, a running back like Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde or Boston College’s Andre Williams could fit similar to the way Montee Ball did as a goal line and workhorse back of the future in Denver. Wide receivers like Jordan Matthews from Vanderbilt or LSU’s Odell Beckham are reliable targets with playmaking ability that would be excellent fits across from All-Pro Josh Gordon. The team could bolster the interior of the offensive line with an athletic guard like Xavier Su’a-Filo from UCLA or Brandon Thomas from Clemson on the draft’s second day or early on day 3.