ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Adam Gase's goal since taking over as Denver's offensive coordinator a year ago was putting the Broncos' offense in hyper drive, giving Peyton Manning the call as quickly as possible and getting the heck out of his way.
So, he's not about to do anything to spoil their Super Bowl aspirations, and that includes being a distraction by interviewing for a head coaching job this weekend.
Because the Broncos have a bye, Gase could have been interviewing Sunday for the head coaching vacancies with the Cleveland Browns or Minnesota Vikings, both of whom sought permission to speak with him.
''I told both teams that were interested in me that I appreciated it and I was going to wait until after our season had concluded,'' Gase said Friday. ''They were great about it. They said they appreciated me being up front and honest about it, and I thought that was the best decision for what we are trying to accomplish with our team.''
If the Broncos reach the Super Bowl, he would be allowed to interview with other teams before the big game, but he's hoping not to have any free time until Feb. 3, the day after the Super Bowl.
And if both the Browns and Vikings have already hired their head coaches by then, so be it.
Gase wants to be a head coach. It's just that the Vikings and Browns called at a bad time.
The Broncos (13-3) just became the first 600-point team in history, and they did it despite losing star left tackle Ryan Clady to a season-ending foot injury in Week 2. After losing to Baltimore in the divisional round as the AFC's top seed last year, they signed right guard Louis Vasquez, who was named All-Pro Friday along with Manning, and lured Wes Welker from New England.
They once again earned home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs and are determined not to let it slip away this time. So, the last thing Gase wanted to do was focus on his own future instead of the Broncos' next game on Jan. 12 against an opponent that will be determined this weekend.
''Right now, I have to focus on what we're doing for the playoffs and it's a one-game elimination tournament,'' he said.
Earlier this season, it appeared as though Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio would be getting another shot at a head coaching job after going 3-1 while filling in during coach John Fox's absence following heart surgery. But as Manning & Co. continued breaking records, it was Gase who began drawing attention.
On Friday, Fox called Gase ''a very quick thinker, a smart, intelligent guy, very tireless worker, an outstanding young coach.''
With a more aggressive approach than his predecessor, Mike McCoy, who left for the head coaching job with the San Diego Chargers last January, Gase called an offense that allowed Manning his usual freedom at the line of scrimmage while employing a more up-tempo style.
It helped produce 606 points, 55 TD passes and 5,447 yards through the air, all NFL records. And Denver had an unprecedented five players score 10 or more touchdowns.
Gase, who served as Manning's position coach last year, showed his passion last month when Manning was under scrutiny for his so-so record in cold weather - he's 4-7 in games that are 32 degrees or colder at kickoff.
''I've only been around him two years, but the thing that probably (ticks) me off more than anything is the fact that I don't want anybody else as my quarterback,'' Gase fumed back on Dec. 6. ''I'm going to go in with him every Sunday and it's a great feeling to have. When you have him back there, you know your chances of winning are pretty good. And when you don't have a guy like that? I've been in that spot a lot, and it (stinks), when you know you walk in there and you don't have a shot.
''I'll take him any day of the week.''
That diatribe might also serve as a peek into his thought process now.
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