Dolphins’ Gase saw potential of Lions’ Cooter in Denver

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Jim Bob Cooter

Indianapolis — Dolphins coach Adam Gase was among the people watching what the Lions chose to do with their coaching staff in January.

Had the team fired coach Jim Caldwell, there’s a chance Gase would’ve looked to add Jim Bob Cooter to his staff in Miami. However, as the wait for a decision on the coaches lingered, Gase said he had to move on as he built the staff for his first season as a head coach.

“It was one of those tough situations where if something would’ve happened there, just knowing those guys would’ve been out there, that would’ve been tough for me to kind of look at and know they’re out of work,” Gase said Wednesday at the NFL combine. “But at the same time, when you’ve got to go through your process, you can’t wait forever for everybody to make decisions.  You’ve got to kind of move at your speed.”

Gase, an Ypsilanti native, and Cooter worked together with the Denver Broncos in 2013 with Gase as the offensive coordinator and Cooter an offensive assistant. After that season in which the Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl, Cooter quickly rose through the coaching ranks, becoming the Lions’ quarterbacks coach in 2014 before receiving a promotion to offensive coordinator during the 2015 season.

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And Gase, who’s a head coach at 37, hasn’t been surprised to see Cooter’s growth after being heavily involved in Denver’s game-planning, particularly in the red zone, with quarterback Peyton Manning.

“He was a guy that was side-by-side with Peyton a lot of the time as far as discussion on blitz pickups, protections,” he said. “You could see it; it was so easy to see that this guy was off the charts as far as his knowledge of the game, how to adjust within a game. He was a guy that I was always talking to because he always gave me great feedback.

“He had a great eye during a game of seeing what a defense was doing and what we needed to adjust to it.”