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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

J-E-T-S: Just End The Season . . . two weeks in, it feels as if it's already over

Head coach Adam Gase of the Jets looks

Head coach Adam Gase of the Jets looks on against the San Francisco 49ers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sep. 20, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Jets are a barely functioning football team, nearly unwatchable with an offense that repeatedly misfires, a defense that is equally culpable and a coaching staff that continues to be unimaginative and uninspiring.

And it’s only Week 2.

Already the Jets are careening toward irrelevancy in a season that may very well get away from them within short order. And that may be putting it charitably. This season already feels as if it’s over just as it has begun.

There was a clunker of a 27-17 loss in Buffalo, a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated. And then a 31-13 loss to the 49ers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday that left beleaguered coach Adam Gase feeling exasperated afterward.

"I'm pissed right now," he told reporters in his postgame Zoom call. "That [expletive] is no fun going out there and getting your [expletive] beat. We need to get better fast."

Honest question: After the dreck they’ve put out there the first two weeks, does anyone see a chance that they can get better fast? Or get better at all?

Sure doesn’t feel that way.

The offense is as dimwitted as a paint-by-numbers illustration. The refashioned offensive line can’t even give Sam Darnold the time to throw a screen pass. And injuries at running back and receiver have left the Jets with the likes of Chris Hogan and Braxton Berrios as Darnold’s most reliable targets.

The defense isn’t much better. It took all of one play – one play! – Sunday for the 49ers to establish their will against the Jets. Jimmy Garoppolo pitched the ball to running back Raheem Mostert, who ran around right and down the left sideline for an 80-yard touchdown just 17 seconds into the game.

It didn’t get any better for the home team, which later allowed the 49ers to convert a third-and-31 . . . on a running play.

Even a series of 49ers’ injuries – both before and during the game – couldn’t provide any momentum for the Jets. San Francisco was already without Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman and Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle. They then lost defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas, and then Garoppolo and Mostert by the start of the second half.

No matter. Nick Mullens and Jerick McKinnon carried the offense the rest of the way, as the 49ers built a 21-3 halftime lead and increased it to 31-6 lead by the time Darnold hit Berrios for a 30-yard touchdown with 1:23 left in regulation. It was a second straight week for a garbage-time touchdown to conclude an utterly miserable performance.

Perhaps the only solace that Gase could take was the fact that there were no fans in the stands due to the coronavirus pandemic. Had this been a normal season, chants of "Gase Must Go" would certainly have been heard from an understandably frustrated fan base that must now limit its complaints to talk radio, social media and yelling at the television.

If they’re still watching.

The performance comes less than a week after team owner Christopher Johnson defended Gase and Darnold, when he told reporters that Gase has a "brilliant offensive mind" and that Darnold is "an absolutely sterling quarterback."

Darnold was admittedly brutal in Week 1, but he wasn’t the problem in this one. Under siege from start to finish behind a woeful offensive line – even with the 49ers missing their top pass rushers – Darnold was a sitting duck and did all he could in throwing for 176 yards and a touchdown.

Gase’s play-calling and play designs were the more glaring issues, up to and including having Frank Gore and then Josh Adams rush straight into the line on successive plays – both for no gain – to stall a Jets’ drive at the 49ers’ 20 in the second quarter. A touchdown there would have gotten the Jets to within four points, 14-10. Instead, the 49ers made the stop, and Garoppolo responded with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that ended with his four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Reed.

"I think he has a lot more in him as a head coach than some of our fans are giving him credit for," Johnson said of Gase. "And I understand. They want to see success, and I think they will."

But Gase has offered no conclusive evidence – not last year and not so far this year – that his offenses will resemble anything other than what they have already been: brutal. This feels like it could get bad – like, Rich Kotite bad – if things don’t turn around. And there is little evidence to suggest that will happen.

Which means Johnson will be left with no choice but to question his confidence in the coach and end the Gase era much sooner than he planned.

New York Sports