This development hardly comes as a surprise.
One of John Fox’s greatest strengths is persuading quality assistant coaches to join his staff. Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy, former Raiders head coach Dennis Allen, current Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and Gase are just some of the high-profile coaches to have worked under Fox.
Fox has been prepared for some time to fill the void.
Still, the loss of Gase is unfortunate. Gase and Cutler clicked. That never happened before with Cutler and his offensive coordinators -- Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Mike Tice, Aaron Kromer, Marc Trestman -- in Chicago. Cutler completely bought in to Gase's system, and more importantly, he accepted the coaching.
Look at results.
Cutler threw seven fewer interceptions in 2015. His overall quarterback rating jumped from 88.6 to 92.3. And for really the only time in Cutler's Bears career, the 32-year old quarterback almost always looked comfortable on the field.
"Adam has done a heck of a job," Cutler said. "If he gets a [head-coaching] job, he deserves it."
Cutler deserves plenty of credit for his turnaround, but Gase’s positive influence and intelligent coaching techniques cannot be discounted.
Gase will be missed.
Fox’s mission is to find another offensive coordinator who can maximize Cutler’s considerable talent and keep him operating within the restraints of the system.
"Let me make this clear: Our systems are our systems," Fox said. "They’re not any individual’s systems; they are our systems. Our systems aren’t changing -- offense, defense or special teams. You tweak and you grow and you adjust. You have to do that in this league because it’s a fluid league. There are trends and things that happen and things that you have to react to regardless of what they are -- that’s all part of coaching. One of the hard things about being a new staff is introducing those systems, and they won’t change."
Former NFL head coaches Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Mularkey and Pat Shurmur top the list of experienced play callers who might interest Fox. Possible in-house candidates -- if Fox goes that route -- include quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains and receivers coach Mike Groh.
One prominent NFL talent evaluator even suggested top University of Michigan assistant Jedd Fisch (Fisch worked with Cutler one year in Denver) and Temple quarterbacks coach Glenn Thomas as worthy candidates for any NFL offensive coordinator opening, including the one in Chicago.