June 11, 2014 Updated: June 11, 2014 at 8:57 pm
DENVER — The last time I spoke to Adam Gase in a semiformal setting, the boat was rocking.
"I think some guys were getting queasy," Gase said Wednesday, and that was before the Seahawks made the Broncos queasy. In the week leading into the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl, the Broncos conducted their media obligations on a boat.
The Cornucopia Majesty sailed at sea.
The Lombardi Trophy sailed to SEA, 43-8.
There was a before that, though. Before that, Gase coordinated a Broncos offense that crushed NFL records. They scored 606 points. They averaged 37.9 per game.
With those historic numbers — and with four months to reflect since the Super Bowl mugging — what was the offensive coordinator's takeaway from the 2013 season?
"My takeaway is that, at the end of the day, we were one game short," Gase said. "What I remember is we scored eight points in the last game."
But 606 points, Adam.
"The way I look at it is it's another number in the book. Everybody's going to remember what Seattle did," he said. "We were one of the best offenses of all time. They're one of the best defenses of all time — and they won the Super Bowl."
To get back there, and this time win, the Broncos aren't stripping down their offense.
They're spicing it up.
They're doing some weird stuff over at Dove Valley. They're brainstorming new ideas like a chef would enhance his menu. Their offensive line is healthier (with Ryan Clady), their receiving core is quicker (with Emmanuel Sanders), and Gase is talking about lining up Virgil Green, a 255-pound tight end, at running back.
I think. Or not. It's hard to say, because there is a little Good Will Hunting to Adam Gase. It's fair to picture Gase up in his office, scribbling football equations, in the form of new plays and tweaked old ones, across the whiteboards nailed to the wall.
His age, 36, and easy personality are helpful in disguising the football gears that are always turning. It's not hard to see why Gase and Peyton Manning get along so well.
"We really try to push the envelope this time of year to see how far we can take things and how far we can go," Gase told me after the second practice of minicamp. "This is a fun, great time for us, because it lets us know how far we can go.
"If we see something that might be able to work, we're going to try it," he said. "You can experiment."
The Broncos offense in 2013 seemed like a 17-week experiment in one-upmanship. Six players led them in receiving in different games, and not one was Wes Welker.
While the Super Bowl changed how their season was viewed, it won't change their M.O. on offense. If slowing down is the goal, you don't sign Emmanuel Sanders.
Yes, "Omaha" will remain common at the line of scrimmage.
Yes, the offense remains detailed enough that quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp watches third-stringer Zac Dysert during warmups to determine the direction and velocity of the wind. Depending on how the breeze affects Dysert's passes, the Broncos adjust their passing routes accordingly.
Yes, Gase and Manning are still running low on words for play-calls. On a wobbly boat in the Hudson River, Gase told me he had bookmarked Scrabble.com to expand the vocabulary in their playbook.
The fact he's researching more words suggests the playbook is evolving.
"We've got Dictionary.com going," Gase said. "I found another website that's been helpful: 'Names For Twins.'"
Yes, the Broncos believe they should have scored more than 606 points. Manning has said the offense "left points on the field" in 2013.
Where, exactly, on the field? Here's where: the Broncos' offseason research showed they ranked 19th in the NFL in scoring from inside the 5-yard line.
The Smackdown in the Swamp shouldn't define the Broncos' 2013 season. But it has shaped their drive into 2014.
Due to snowy weather, the Broncos plane was delayed leaving New Jersey. Yech. So Gase watched the game film of the Super Bowl from the tarmac. Double-yech.
Gase spoke with former Rams coach Mike Martz, whom he considers a mentor. Instead of talking about what happened, they talked about what happens next.
"He (Martz) reminisces back to 2001 when he lost the Super Bowl: 'Here's how I would handle this. Or, 'Here's what I would have done different after the season ended,'" Gase said. "He's such a good sounding board for me."
Can Manning and the Broncos offense eclipse their scoring records in 2014?
"I just know we have to score one more point than our opponent," Gase said.
He added, "It's hard to make those kinds of predictions, because you don't know what kind of season it's going to be. You can't predict injuries. You can't predict weather."
On June 11, here's one prediction: with Manning at quarterback and Gase designing the playbook, the Broncos will speed up before they slow down. Take that to the boat.