FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – It hasn’t taken long for Adam Gase to get his point across: If you are on his team, you better expect to be criticized if you’re not doing your job properly.
Gase is only one game into his tenure as the Jets’ coach, but he already has gone a step further than Todd Bowles and Rex Ryan, both of whom regularly refused to call out their players for mistakes. Gase didn’t name names in his Monday conference call following Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Bills, in which the Jets blew a 16-0 lead, but he disparaged the receivers, offensive line, cornerbacks and overall defense.
Curiously absent from his Monday morning quarterback critique was himself, especially after some play-calling that left a lot to be desired.
On Wednesday, Gase added himself to the list of culprits from the loss.
“I was a little upset,” he said of Monday’s call with reporters. “We were frustrated. Everybody was. We watched the film. Mistakes were made. There were some things that I wish I would have done different. I voiced that part to those guys.”
Gase then second-guessed himself on a play-call just before the two-minute warning. On third-and-1 from the Jets’ 34, he called for a deep pass to Robby Anderson that fell incomplete. The Jets did convert on fourth-and-1 on a Le’Veon Bell run but wound up losing the ball on downs at their own 40 and failed to get into scoring position the rest of the way.
Gase, of course, isn’t the first coach to criticize his players. In fact, football coaches are among the most critical in any sport. It’s just that most of them do the complaining behind closed doors. And even Gase might think better of voicing his issues publicly moving forward.
“I probably shouldn’t have had a conference call after our [team] meeting was over,” he said.
He also thought he didn’t really say anything all that inflammatory, which he didn’t. But in an era where players are often coddled and sometimes react negatively to public scrutiny, Gase’s direct approach runs counter to the norm.
“I mean, anything that I ever say publicly, I’ve already said privately,” Gase said. “I didn’t think I was that bad. I thought I was nice.”
Gase rarely criticized his players openly during his three seasons as the Dolphins coach.
“I never said anything about anybody in Miami,” he said. “I got criticized for that. I was too soft.”
So what he did after his very first game with the Jets reflects a willingness to adjust his style. And that’s his prerogative. Coaches either grow into their jobs over time, or they fail to acclimate and don’t succeed over the long haul.
Of course, the only true measure of a coach’s success is his won-loss record, and Gase is no exception. Whether he rips his players or defends them, it doesn’t matter much if the Jets don’t start winning games. And with a challenging schedule that includes two games against the Patriots the first half of the season, Gase knows his team must get its act together quickly.
“We’ve got to hyper-drive all this stuff, as far as minimizing mistakes,” he said. "We don’t have a season to be like, ‘Hey, let’s just kind of go out there and flop around.’ We don’t have time for that. We’ve got to fix things fast.”
Gase believes his players received that message.
“Those guys did a good job of embracing that,” he said. “After a loss, it’s not easy to handle any kind of criticism. When you have to fix things after a win, it’s a lot easier. You can say whatever you want, and nobody cares.”
He’s right about that. Or, as coaches often like to say, winning is the great deodorant.
Gase knows that’s the bottom line. And he appears willing to do whatever it takes – up to and including ruffling some feathers and bruising some feelings among the players who will ultimately determine how much winning there will be.