Adam Gase is either too dumb to realize that the Jets are tanking or too selfish to care. Thursday night’s disaster of a matchup against the Broncos made clear that even if Gase tries to win, his actions won’t matter. He’s bad enough at his job that his team might finish 0-16. He’s a lame-duck coach who will almost certainly be fired at some point this year. But after watching Gase voluntarily jeopardize the health of the team’s brightest young star in the hopes of winning a game in an already-doomed season, I’m not sure the Jets can risk keeping Gase around for even a few weeks longer.
In April, the Jets used their top draft pick on offensive tackle Mekhi Becton. He’s been wonderful, a plug-and-play stud who’s capable of dumptrucking defensive linemen regardless of what dingus is standing on the sideline. (We knew this when he dominated at Louisville despite being coached by noted dingus Bobby Petrino.) What Becton needs to have a successful Jets career is not to get more reps, but to stay healthy until the team actually has an offensive infrastructure worth protecting. Instead, Gase sent Becton into Thursday’s game despite the fact that Becton was clearly dealing with a shoulder injury. Becton had been hampered all week by his shoulder; he was listed as a limited participant in practice and was supposed to play only in case of emergency. Gase sent him into the game as soon as his replacement, Chuma Edoga, got hurt on the game’s opening drive.
The Jets were facing no emergency when Becton was sent in. They had other linemen available, and were playing a meaningless game in a season most fans have already given up on. But rumors swirled that Gase could get fired if the Jets lost, and to Gase, that was the real emergency. He was willing to risk wrecking a future star’s health if it meant keeping his job for even a short period more. Becton was obviously bothered by the injury from the moment he stepped onto the field. He eventually took himself out of the game due to the pain. That’s the sort of thing that coaches are supposed to do, not rookies. It’d be bad enough if this was the only dispute between the Jets and one of their offensive linemen over a shoulder injury during Gase’s tenure, but last year the Jets urged Kelechi Osemele to play through a similar injury when Osemele’s doctors insisted he needed surgery.
The Jets are talentless, sure. In July, they traded away their best player, Jamal Adams, for future draft picks, and chose to enter the season with the third-most cap space instead of adding key contributors on offense. This is why it feels fair to say that the Jets, as an organization, are in for a tank.
But Thursday night’s loss reinforced that talent aside, the Jets are rotten because of Gase’s countless failings as a coach. Gase’s decision-making sucks. The Jets lost Thursday night because Gase refused to go for it on fourth-and-inches from the opposing 19-yard line in the fourth quarter, settling instead for a field goal that gave them a one-point lead. But they needed seven points, not three, as the Broncos promptly responded by kicking a field goal of their own to take the lead.
Gase’s play-calling sucks. The Jets entered Week 4 as one of the most situationally run-heavy teams in the league despite Gase’s history as a quarterbacks coach and the roster’s obvious lack of running back talent. With top running back Le’Veon Bell sidelined by an injury on Thursday, the Jets gave 13 carries to 37-year-old Frank Gore, who picked up 30 yards and exactly one first down.
Gase’s team is aggressively undisciplined. The Jets committed 11 penalties for 118 yards against the Broncos. They never managed to sack Denver quarterback Brett Rypien, but did commit three 15-yard penalties while trying to sack him. Two of those came on third downs and extended drives that led to Broncos scores, including the late go-ahead field goal. The Jets have seven roughing the passer penalties on the year; no other team has more than three.
Thursday was probably the Jets’ easiest game of the season, a home matchup against a previously winless team whose coach didn’t even know his own QB’s name earlier in the week. That undrafted quarterback was making his first career NFL start, on just three days’ rest, one of which was a travel day from the Mountain Time Zone. The Jets still lost by nine points, another memorable chapter in the Adam Gase experience.
I’ve been mad that the Jets hired Adam Gase since the moment the Jets hired Adam Gase. Gase’s entire career is based on the premise that he’s good at working with quarterbacks. He was an assistant for the Broncos when they signed Peyton Manning in 2012, and in Gase’s first season as offensive coordinator Manning set the single-season record for passing touchdowns. Gase and Manning had a strong relationship, and Denver made that season’s Super Bowl.
The problem is that just about every other quarterback Gase has worked with has been awful. Outside of Manning, here are the QBs Gase had coached when the Jets hired him in 2019: Brock Osweiler, Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen, Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, and David Fales. Most of these guys suck. Tannehill, notably, seemed mediocre under Gase, and then went on to lead the NFL in passer rating during his career rebirth with the Titans. (While we’re at it: Skill-position players like Jarvis Landry, Kenyan Drake, and DeVante Parker have also blossomed after leaving Gase’s tutelage. Former Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson is looking good with the Panthers to start the season.) It’s true that Manning looked good when coached by Gase, but Manning also looked good when coached by literally everybody else in his career. Hiring Gase based on his brief and successful stint with Manning is like hiring David Blatt because he coached LeBron James and made the NBA Finals.
I think the other main reason the Jets hired Gase is because Gase went 5-1 against the Jets as head coach of the Dolphins from 2016 to 2018. The Jets management thought they hired the Belichick of the Everglades because he had kicked their ass time and time again. But everyone kicked the Jets’ asses during that time frame—they went a combined 14-34 over those three seasons. Hiring someone for succeeding while coaching Peyton Manning and having a winning record against the Jets is like hiring someone for brushing their teeth and owning clothing. Yeah … that’s normal.
The truth is, Gase’s 23-25 record as Miami’s head coach obscured how bad he really was. Even when the Dolphins went 10-6 in 2016 and made the playoffs, they had a negative point differential. None of his teams ever finished in the top half of the league in scoring offense or scoring defense. In his final two seasons, the Dolphins lost 15 games by double digits and won only one by double digits. In the six games against New York that probably helped Gase get the Jets job, the Dolphins outscored the Jets by 29 combined points; meanwhile, the Dolphins suffered at least one 30-point loss in each of Gase’s three seasons as head coach. (They lost 40-0 to the Ravens in a game in which Joe Flacco got injured and had to be replaced by Ryan Mallett.)
The same lopsided scoring trend has held true with the Jets, who ranked 31st in total scoring last season but managed to finish 7-9 thanks to some close wins and a surprisingly competent defense. It’d be odd to give Gase credit for that defense, both because he has never coached defense and because his Miami defenses were uniformly terrible.
Through four games this season, Gase has nothing to hide behind. The Jets are in the bottom left on any graph of NFL competence—worst in offense, worst in defense. They are nuclear waste:
The Jets are plainly incompetent, even in areas that were expected to be strengths. The Jets’ one good unit this season was supposed to be their run defense. Against the 49ers in Week 2, they allowed Raheem Mostert to take a simple toss right for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. When Mostert and backup Tevin Coleman got injured, the Jets allowed third-stringer Jerick McKinnon to run 55 yards for a first down on a third-and-31. It was the first time a team had successfully rushed for a first down on third-and-30 or longer since 1999.
If Gase were good at the thing he’s supposed to be good at, we would be seeing a marked improvement from Sam Darnold, the quarterback the Jets picked third in the 2018 draft. But Darnold doesn’t even look like the third-best quarterback from his own draft class, which also featured Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, and Baker Mayfield. A quarter of the way through the season, Darnold is on track to post career lows in yards per attempt (5.7) and passer rating (70.7), putting him 32nd and 31st in those categories, respectively. Darnold threw three interceptions (including two pick-sixes) during a blowout loss to the Colts in Week 3.
But Gase is more than just wildly incompetent. What truly sets him apart from other bad coaches is his arrogance. He refuses to take responsibility for any of the team’s failings, happily passing the blame on to his players. “If we just execute the play called,” Gase said after the team dropped to 0-3, “we’ll be fine.” It’s also worth noting that Gase revealed Becton pulled himself from Thursday’s game instead of accepting responsibility for forcing an injured rookie into action. Privately, he reportedly responds to criticism by saying “I’m rich as fuck,” as if getting paid a lot of money should be a shield from criticism and not cause for closer scrutiny.
Gase’s arrogance may cost him in the long run. After coming to New York, Gase immediately began feuding with general manager Mike Maccagnan. The Jets fired Maccagnan and replaced him with Joe Douglas, who worked with Gase on the 2015 Bears. But Douglas, who has received much of the credit for helping build the Super Bowl LII champion Eagles, doesn’t seem interested in helping Gase stick around. He’s the one who made all the moves that have put the Jets in position to tank.
It’s over for Gase. This team would be awful regardless of whether he was the coach, but somehow he’s making things worse week in and week out. Now, the Jets will spend the rest of the season debating when and how to fire him. There’s only one right answer: as soon as possible. There’s never a good reason to let incompetence linger. The worst time for Adam Gase to be the Jets head coach is every single day that he’s the Jets head coach, and that has been the case since the day he was hired.