Is the Denver Broncos’ Adam Gase the Key to Reaching the Promised Land?

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COMMENTARY | The Denver Broncos had their options when then offensive coordinator Mike McCoy left to become the new head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

Head coach John Fox met with Ken Whisenhunt to discuss the possibility of him running the offense. There were also reports that former Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore was looking to get back into the game at 74-years-old. Both were qualified, experienced coaches.

Instead, the Broncos hired from within - promoting quarterbacks coach Adam Gase. Now with OTAs progressing and Gase instructing the offense, the first year coordinator maybe the key between a February trip to New York and another disappointing playoff exit.

"While we did speak with several qualified candidates, it became clear that Adam was the best fit," Fox told The Associated Press. "He did a great job working with Peyton and all of our quarterbacks the last two seasons. Adam is a bright coach with a great future, and I am confident he'll have success in his new role."

The Broncos have toys for Gase to work with. Besides four time MVP Peyton Manning, the wide receiving trio of Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, and Wes Welker give Gase much more room to work with.

However, the true measure of Gase's success will be one area - play calling.

Recently, Fox told the Denver Post's Woody Paige that the third-and-7 call in the final minutes of the Ravens playoff game was the wrong call. At their 47, the Broncos came out with two blocking tight ends and only one wide receiver, fully prepared to run the ball. Ronnie Hillman ran to the right for no gain.

"That's the one that gnaws at me," Fox said. "We get the first down there, and Baltimore can't stop the clock again, and the game's over."

McCoy's decision to run on third-and-7 is still mind boggling. While the Broncos had the fourth best third down conversation in the regular season at 45.1 percent (96-213), the team never completed a run of seven yards or more on third down in the course of the regular season.

In fact, a breakdown of their third down numbers illustrate that McCoy's call was too conservative. According to Pro-Football-Reference, the Broncos ran 161 pass plays on third down compared to 52 rushing plays. Of those passing plays, the Broncos completed 76 of those passes (47.2 percent).

What was the average in yards to go for those plays? 6.72.

When the Broncos were successful passing the ball, they gained an average of 7.46 yards. What was the success rate of running the ball? The Broncos converted 38.5 percent (20-52) of their runs, but the average yards gained was only 2.15. Again, the Broncos never converted a third down when they faced seven yards to go rushing the ball.

For those not keeping track, McCoy, with one of the most accurate passers in the game, chose to run a play that hadn't worked all year. And you wonder why Fox regrets it.

Which brings us back to Gase.

The Broncos need Gase to be aggressive on offense. While Fox is a conservative coach, Gase needs to know when and what plays to call. It seems simple enough, but after last year's blunder, the Broncos can't afford to make the same mistakes.

Gase can look no further to former Broncos' coach Mike Shanahan and the words Vice President of Operations John Elway had to say about him.

"As a quarterback, why I liked Mike was he wanted to win it on the offensive side," Elway told ESPN's Ashley Fox. "If we needed a first down late in the game, we were going to be aggressive offensively rather than punting and putting the game in the defense's hands."

We'll see what Gase tends to do.

Matthew Paras is Journalism Major at DePaul University. He writes for multiple outlets including Maxboxing.com, Operationsports.com, and DePaul's student newspaper, The DePaulia. He can be reached by email at Mparas1432@gmail.com or on twitter @Mparas1432. He currently resides in Chicago, but lived in Littleton, Colo. for seven years.

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