FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets joined the new craze in the NFL, hiring their version of Sean McVay, according to sources. Actually, their new coach is an older, dented version of the Los Angeles Rams‘ so-called genius.
Say hello to Adam Gase, who was McVay before McVay.
In 2016, Gase was a 36-year-old offensive whiz kid who, in his first season as an NFL head coach, led the Miami Dolphins to their first playoff appearance in eight years. Now he’s a recycled coach, coming off two losing seasons and fighting an unflattering narrative. There were reports of locker-room and front-office unrest in Miami, blemishing the image (fairly or unfairly) of the one-time wonder boy.
Who is the real Gase? The answer to that question will go a long way in determining if the Jets return to relevancy or continue to remain lost without a GPS.
This is a fascinating, double-edged decision by CEO Christopher Johnson and general manager Mike Maccagnan. In terms of optics, it’s bad — one that will be a tough sell to the fan base. They hitched their future to a castoff from their own division. Gase was no different than Todd Bowles in that he failed to accomplish the No. 1 priority for any coach in the AFC East: overtake the New England Patriots.
The Jets replaced an also-ran with an also-ran. It will be interesting to see how they spin this one. I bet Peyton Manning’s name comes up quite a bit. More on that a little later.
Optics aside, Gase has some appealing qualities as a coach. For one thing, he’s an offensive playcaller. That’s good because it will provide stability for quarterback Sam Darnold. In other words, the Jets won’t have to install a new system if their offensive coordinator lands a head-coaching gig elsewhere. It’s Gase’s system, and he’ll be the one running it.
This will be huge for the Jets, who have no concept of offensive continuity. Since 2011 they’ve employed six different systems, run by Brian Schottenheimer, Tony Sparano (another victim of the Miami ax), Marty Mornhinweg, Chan Gailey, John Morton and Jeremy Bates. You can’t develop a quarterback if you’re playing coordinator roulette. This was a big factor in the decision to hire Gase, although the same argument could’ve been made for former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy — and his overall resume is superior to that of Gase.
By opting for Gase, the Jets are basically saying the Dolphins screwed up by booting a talented coach out of the building. Gase was a hot commodity in 2016, coming off successful coordinator stints with the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos. In Denver, he was the one calling the plays in 2013, when Manning threw a league-record 55 touchdowns and the Broncos set the NFL scoring mark. You’d be a fool to say Gase made Manning — that would be like a hair stylist taking credit for Gisele Bundchen — but he did get the future Hall of Famer to perform at a historic level.
Gase was even hotter after Miami’s playoff season. The Jets are mortgaging their future on that guy.
“I like Gase. I’m surprised he got fired,” a longtime personnel executive said last week. “There must have been something they didn’t like about him. I think he’ll be one of the first [to get hired].”
For the record, Gase was the sixth, with two vacancies remaining — the Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals.
What happened the last two seasons can’t be ignored, though, because Gase presided over 6-10 and 7-9 seasons. He’s supposed to be an offensive guru, but he didn’t do a very good job of guru-ing because the Dolphins went from 24th to 25th to 31st in total offense. His pet project, Ryan Tannehill, never developed into a franchise quarterback, although injuries sabotaged the effort. Tannehill missed 24 of his 48 games under Gase.
Still, it raises a fair criticism: When did Gase ever develop a young quarterback? In Denver, he had Manning, whose resume for Canton already was set. In Chicago he had Jay Cutler, already established as a talented tease. In Miami he had Tannehill, part time.
Now he will be entrusted with Darnold, the crown jewel of the Jets’ franchise.
There also are questions about Gase’s ability to interact with people. He reportedly clashed with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, and there were reports about player dissension in the locker room. People who know Gase say he can rub people the wrong way because he’s brutally direct. He has high standards and he doesn’t compromise. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly. If you’re not on board, you’re out. That probably explains why so many high-profile players were jettisoned last offseason by the Dolphins.
You have to wonder if he’ll be compatible with general manager Mike Maccagnan, who has control of the 53-man roster. In Miami, Gase held that power. Can they get along?
One thing we know about Gase: He dominated the Jets, winning five of six meetings. If you can’t beat him, hire him.