This is not a question that ordinarily comes up in the first year of an NFL coach’s tenure, even in today’s world of instant analysis and intense and incessant scrutiny. A coach almost always gets at least a year — and then some — to see if he’s got the makings of a potentially successful run.
But with Adam Gase’s erratic performance in a 1-5 start, punctuated by his team’s woeful showing in a humiliating 33-0 loss to the defending champion Patriots on Monday night at MetLife Stadium, the Jets’ first-year coach is certainly pushing the limits of whether it is appropriate to wonder if he’s the right man for the job.
There are no indications anyone in a position of power within the Jets’ organization is ready to push the eject button on Gase in the immediate term. Frustration, yes. But enough to act on it? No. At least not yet.
Gase is almost certain to get the rest of the year to show he can stabilize this team and deliver on the promise he showed CEO Christopher Johnson and erstwhile general manager Mike Maccagnan, whose own tenure was cut short in a power struggle with the coach. Fortunately for Gase, he doesn’t face the Patriots again, and the schedule will begin to soften as the second half of the season approaches.
But the coach will have to do more to engender confidence, not only in the people who hired him (as well as recently named GM Joe Douglas), but more important, in the fans who deserve better than what they’re getting.
It has not been easy for those fans, who have suffered any assortment of indignities over the years — the decades, really — since the team’s greatest moment on Jan. 12, 1969, in Super Bowl III. There have been near-misses, such as the runs to AFC Championship Game in 1982, 1998, 2009 and 2010. And there have been complete debacles — oh so many of them.
Lou Holtz lasting just 13 games in 1976.
Bruce Coslet’s ill-fated four-year run.
Todd Bowles’ failure in his recently completed four-year disappointment.
And, of course, rock bottom: the Rich Kotite years.
Gase has been tasked with resurrecting the franchise after the Bowles era, and he was selected from a candidate list that included former Packers coach Mike McCarthy, Baylor’s Matt Rhule, who was held in high regard but bristled over concerns about being able to freely hire his own coaching staff, former Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken and Kliff Kingsbury, who was hired as the Cardinals’ coach.
Gase had an unremarkable three-year run in Miami before being hired by the Jets. He got to the playoffs in 2016 in what turned out to be his only full season with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. He was a combined 13-19 in his final two seasons before being ousted along with general manager Mike Tannenbaum, the former Jets GM.
Fate has been somewhat unkind in Gase’s early run with the Jets, as he lost Sam Darnold for three games because of mononucleosis. Darnold did a splendid job in a 24-22 win over the Cowboys to give the Jets their first win, offering some hope going into Monday night’s game against the Patriots.
But as Bill Belichick has done so often to the team he spurned after Bill Parcells appointed him head coach in 2000, he eviscerated the Jets and had Darnold so confused that the quarterback said he was “seeing ghosts.” Darnold finished with a pitiable rating of just 3.6, narrowly escaping a “Blutarsky” of 0.0.
Darnold must now move on after one of the most humiliating moments for a franchise that has experienced more than its share of such occurrences. But it’s also on Gase to shepherd Darnold through an emotional minefield and come out the other side a better player.
If that happens, then Gase will have bought himself more time to prove he deserves to be the coach moving forward.
But if the downward spiral continues, and the Jets can’t regain some semblance of respect in the coming weeks, then it’s fair to wonder whether Gase is the answer and if the Jets need to find someone else to fix what’s wrong with this team.