When Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase told the Browns a few weeks ago that he wouldn't interview for their head-coaching vacancy until he was finished with the postseason, his choice raised legitimate questions about whether he was actually interested in the job or any other gig for that matter.
He also told the Minnesota Vikings he would set aside their interview request. The Vikings responded by moving on and hiring former Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer as their new head coach.
The Browns, though, decided to wait for Gase. They submitted their first interview request for him, and he has become the perceived favorite.
But what if Gase doesn't want the job? He's only 35 and in his first season as a coordinator. He and/or his agent, Bob LaMonte, might think he'd be better off staying with the Broncos and positioning himself for bigger and better opportunities next year or beyond. After all, it's a safe bet Gase would only raise his profile as long as Peyton Manning is his quarterback. Manning and Broncos executive John Elway have praised Gase, and Elway has said he doesn't want Gase to leave.
The Browns expect to interview Gase, and the two sides could still hit it off and consummate a deal. But rumblings about Gase favoring his current job are growing louder.
Cleveland.com reported Saturday that Gase is leaning toward staying in Denver even if the Browns offer to make him their head coach. Bleacher Report columnist Dan Pompei, who first documented that the Browns were thinking about firing coach Rob Chudzinski before it came to fruition Dec. 29, wrote Friday that Gase might be inclined to stay put for a year. Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported Friday that Gase isn't thinking about any gig until the Broncos are done with the postseason and even then he might not be interested.
A resolution could be reached after today's AFC and NFC Championship games, especially if the Broncos fall to the New England Patriots and free Gase for an interview. But if the Broncos win and the Browns elect to continue to wait for Gase, they wouldn't be able to interview him until after the Feb. 2 Super Bowl.
Either way, the Browns need other options as they enter the fourth week of their coaching search.
Below is a glance at candidates who have reportedly interviewed with the Browns. Like Gase, most of them have no track record as a head coach. That makes it difficult to comprehend why owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner were so quick to get rid of Chudzinski after only one season on the job when they didn't have a surefire upgrade secured.
Title: Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator.
Interview date: Jan. 1.
Comment: Glazer reported Quinn is high on the Browns' list and that he's showing way more interest than Gase. Quinn guided the Seahawks' defense to the No. 1 ranking and helped the team reach the NFC title game against the San Francisco 49ers. He uses a 4-3 defense, and the Browns just switched to a 3-4 last year.
Title: Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator.
Interview date: Jan. 16.
Comment: Glazer reported Pettine's interview went well. He has been a defensive coordinator for five seasons (one with the Bills and four with the New York Jets). His defense has finished ranked in the top 10 each time. Like Quinn, he's a 4-3 guy.
Title: Former Tennessee Titans head coach.
Interview date: Jan. 13.
Comment: A Pro Football Hall of Fame guard, he's the only known candidate still in the running with NFL head-coaching experience on his resume. In three seasons in charge of the Titans, he went 9-7, 6-10 and 7-9. He's also interviewed to become the offensive line coach of the Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Title: Dallas Cowboys special teams coach.
Interview date: Jan. 18.
Comment: He got a head-coaching interview with the Washington Redskins this year before they picked ex-Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. Speaking of Gruden, Jay's brother, Jon, gave Bisaccia his first job as an NFL coach. Haslam and Jon Gruden are linked by their University of Tennessee connections.
Depending on the outcome of today's games, the Browns could meet with other coaches involved in the Final Four, though no news has surfaced about such interviews. 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio are among the top lieutenants still alive in the playoffs. Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano have been mentioned as potential candidates but nothing more yet.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles removed themselves from consideration after interviewing with the Browns. Former San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt became the Titans' new head coach, and ex-Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo took a job as the New York Giants offensive coordinator. Both of them interviewed with the Browns. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported the Browns were interested in Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and ex-Vanderbilt coach James Franklin. No known interview materialized with Malzahn, and Franklin took the Penn State job.
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