New Bears offensive coordinator means new concerns

How much credit does an offensive coordinator deserve when Peyton Manning is the quarterback?

The best thing about Adam Gase is that it was John Fox who chose him to be offensive coordinator.

Chose him again, I should say.

As Broncos coach, Fox promoted Gase to offensive coordinator two seasons ago after Mike McCoy was hired as Chargers head coach. Fox has that kind of hiring record. He repeatedly has displayed the ability to judge “the best human talent,’’ as he put it during his introductory news conference.

So, Gase gets Fox's approval here, but still, there are concerns:

--Why wasn’t Gase hired immediately after Fox took the Bears job?

Gase actually interviewed to become Bears head coach, but it came during the playoff bye week when Fox was still Broncos coach. After Denver’s loss to the Colts that blew up the Broncos staff, Gase seemed to be one of the two or three hot coordinators destined to get a head-coaching position.

But it didn’t happen, not in Denver, not in Atlanta, not anywhere.

Then Gase interviewed for offensive coordinator, but didn’t land any of those until Wednesday. Why? Good question to ask, which leads to the second concern about Gase.

--He was Peyton Manning’s cabana boy.

That’s the first and probably loudest criticism of anybody who coordinates Manning’s offense because it’s just that: Manning’s offense.

But one of the most important elements in Fox’s hiring of Gase is that the head coach is in the best position to know what part of that offense was Gase and what was Manning.

--The whole, aggravating Jay Cutler thing.

I’m assuming Cutler will remain a Bear for at least next season. I’m also assuming this is a one-year trial marriage of the new coaching staff and the existing coach-killing quarterback. And I’m certainly expecting trouble.

Given Cutler’s relationship with past coordinators -- the F-bomb at Mike Martz, for instance -- you can just hear him firing off something like, “Why don’t you go back to being Manning’s cabana boy?’’

To which Gase can say, “Why don’t you win something like he did?’’

Here’s the best way to avoid, or at least delay, Cutler going all Cutler with interceptions and sass: Roll him out. Move the pocket. Emphasize all the mobile stuff you can’t do with Manning but have to do with Cutler to get the most out of him.

--The Brandon Marshall connection.

Remember when the worst thought was bringing in Mike Shanahan as head coach to cater to Cutler with yet another coaching hire? Remember how the smart money said the Bears needed to stop enabling, excusing and protecting Cutler?

Well, that was wrong. The worst thing is any move that hints at keeping around Marshall, and the fear is this one might.

Before ascending to offensive coordinator in Denver, Gase served as wide receivers coach, and Marshall was one of his wide receivers. That was Marshall’s last season in Denver the way 2014 must be Marshall’s last season as a Bear.

Please tell me Gase wasn’t hired to reclaim Marshall. Please tell me the people in charge realize Gase will have a far greater chance at success without the fake leadership of the noisy, selfish, locker-room-soiling Marshall.

--Does Gase understand how slow the Bears receivers are?

They have a collection of power forwards who can high-point the kind of passes Cutler likes to throw. But the Bears desperately need a point guard. They need someone who can take the top off the defense.

If Randall Cobb gets out of Green Bay, then great. The Bears have to be better at signing him than they are at covering him. It’s not Gase’s job to sign players, but he certainly can lobby loudly for the unrestricted wideout who caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 TDs, all career highs.

--The Matt Forte opportunity.

Does Gase realize how well Forte can run the ball? Does he realize Forte will be that guy only for a couple more years before the demands of football wreck his body?

Gase’s offense became more balanced as last season progressed. The Broncos finished 12th in the league in rushing attempts, gaining more than 100 yards in nine of their last 12 games and surpassing 200 yards on the ground twice.

Good offenses have to be able to run and pass, but in that order. See your Super Bowl teams for details.

Too often it seems as if Bears play-callers haven’t figured out how best to use Forte, but he’s a running back first, so start there.

Bonus: It prevents Cutler from throwing another pick.

--One last concern: Does Gase realize that a creative offense is more than throwing a bubble screen to the right one play after throwing a bubble screen to the left?

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