JERSEY CITY — Sunday’s Super Bowl will feature several star players — Peyton Manning, Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Wes Welker, and more.
But fans may want to learn the names of the teams’ coordinators, including Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, and Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Chances are good we’ll be hearing plenty from them over the years as they rise through the coaching ranks.
When it came to filling head coaching vacancies this offseason, Gase, Bevell, and Quinn were at the top of several teams’ wish lists. The Browns and Vikings interviewed Quinn, 43, during the Seahawks’ bye during wild-card weekend. The Redskins and Vikings interviewed Bevell, 44, during that week as well, and he interviewed for the Cardinals’ job last offseason. NFL rules prevented those teams from hiring Quinn or Bevell until the Seahawks were eliminated, and Seattle’s Super Bowl run essentially ended any chance of Quinn or Bevell getting a head coaching job this year.
And Gase, 35, could have been a finalist for several jobs had he not pulled his name from consideration at the beginning of the playoffs, declining interview opportunities with the Browns and Vikings.
“When it first came up, people had said, ‘Your name is going to get thrown around for stuff.’ And then when it did come up, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I didn’t want to be disrespectful to anyone that was involved in the process,” said Gase, who coached the Broncos’ receivers and quarterbacks from 2009-12 before taking over as coordinator this season. “I made my mind up before anybody knew about it. I owed it to John Elway, I owed it to John Fox to make sure that I finished what we had talked about after we lost to Baltimore [in last season’s playoffs], and that was getting back to this spot right here.”
Manning deservedly gets much of the credit for engineering the Broncos’ record-setting offense, but Gase’s role is not undervalued in NFL circles. “Goose,” as his players call him, has tremendous energy as a young coach and doesn’t let his ego get in the way of a good idea.
“He’s very open to his players’ ideas,” Welker said. “I feel like a lot of coaches hear the players’ ideas and they’re like, ‘Yeah, yeah, whatever. I’ll coach, you play.’ He does a good job of actually putting the plays in, which I’ve never seen before. It’s great to have that feedback and working together.”
Gase is two years and five days younger than Manning, but has earned Manning’s respect through his knowledge and work ethic. Since beginning his career at LSU in 2000, Gase has learned from some of the best coaches around, including Nick Saban, Mike Martz, Josh McDaniels, and Mike McCoy.
“I like the fact that Adam Gase, in my opinion, is smarter than me and works just as hard as me,” Manning said. “He’s there before me when I get to the facility, and he e-mails me at night with an idea, I’ll e-mail him back, just talking football. He’s what I call a grinder. It’s all football with him, and for a young coach, 35 years old, he actually has quite a bit of experience.”
Gase, who almost quit coaching soon after he started to sell insurance before his friends talked him out of it, isn’t worried about missing his window of opportunity for head coaching jobs.
“If it doesn’t [happen], it doesn’t,” he said. “I enjoy doing what I do right now. It’s fun being an offensive coordinator.”
But it’s likely a matter of “when,” not “if,” Gase becomes a head coach.
“He’s a tremendous young coach, and he’s going to get that opportunity at some point,” Fox said.
“He’s going to be an outstanding coach at whatever level he wants to coach at for a long, long time,” Manning added.
Gase’s counterpart in Seattle, Bevell, also will likely get a chance to become a head coach in the near future. He first gained acclaim a decade ago as Green Bay’s quarterbacks coach and his work with Brett Favre.
Bevell, a college quarterback at Wisconsin, bolted for rival Minnesota in 2006 to become its offensive coordinator for five seasons, and he was one of the major reasons Favre wanted to end his career with the Vikings. Bevell then jumped to Seattle for the same role in 2011, and has helped Wilson quickly develop into one of the best young quarterbacks in the game.
“The biggest thing with Bevell is the details of his offense, he just knows them so well,” veteran tight end Zach Miller said. “It’s his offensive passing system, he’s been doing it for so long, and he really makes sure everyone’s on the same page with the quarterback.”
Bevell’s coaching mantra is “never let them see you sweat,” which he learned from his mentor, former Vikings coach Brad Childress.
“You don’t want to show panic. You don’t want to show anything,” Bevell said. “We’ll get excited, but we try to keep that even keel that we have everything under control. I think that’s where it comes from and from playing quarterback.
“Somewhere down the line, would I like to be a head coach? Yes, I’d love to do that. Right now, this [game] is where all our focus is.”
Quinn is an intense, hands-on defensive coach who gained a lot of attention this season as the leader of the Seahawks’ No. 1-rated defense. A defensive line coach with the 49ers, Dolphins, Jets, and Seahawks from 2001-10, he spent two seasons as the University of Florida’s defensive coordinator before taking the same role with Seattle this season, replacing Gus Bradley, who became the Jaguars’ head coach.
Browns CEO Joe Banner acknowledged after hiring new coach Mike Pettine that Quinn had been in the mix for the team’s head job until the end, and that bypassing him was the “toughest decision” in the process.
Quinn has a straightforward approach with his players and been known to jump in on defensive line drills and mix it up with them.
“He’s real active and he’s not your typical coach when he’s out there. He’s active doing all kinds of hand drills and all these different things,” defensive end Cliff Avril said. “He keeps it 100, which means he’s real with you all the time. He doesn’t sugarcoat much. He lets you know how he’s feeling and what he feels about certain situations. Veterans appreciate that.”Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin