FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Like it or not, Jets fans, you’re stuck with Adam Gase for the foreseeable future.
The only person in a position to decide otherwise said in no uncertain terms Wednesday that Gase isn’t going anywhere.
“We’re not where we thought we would be,” Jets CEO Christopher Johnson told reporters during practice. “It’s exceedingly frustrating, but I’m watching this team grind away every day, getting better . . . I want to assure you, there will be no changes in coaches.”
I’d venture to say that many Jets fans don’t feel very assured about that statement, especially in light of a 2-7 team that has underperformed through most of the season and, with only two exceptions, has reflected poorly on the coach. Gase was fired by the Dolphins after three seasons and hailed by Johnson as an offensive innovator when he was chosen over a large field of candidates in January. But his time with the Jets has been marked by inadequate play, mounting losses and poor coaching.
Johnson sees things differently, though. He sees the beginnings of an eventual improvement now that Gase is partnered with general manager Joe Douglas, who replaced Mike Maccagnan after the draft. Despite the record, the team’s top decision-maker in the absence of his brother, Woody, who is currently serving as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, sees hopeful signs.
“There’s a lot of work to do,” Johnson said. “Everyone understands that, and we’re just getting started. But I feel really good about this team moving forward.”
Jets fans – so, so many Jets fans – would argue otherwise. Yes, Sam Darnold got the best of the Cowboys after returning from mono last month. And yes, he played well against the Giants – a team that is now 2-8, is playing terrible defense and may be headed for a coaching change. Other than that, Darnold has shown signs of regression under a coach who is supposedly a quarterback whisperer. The defense has been mostly ineffective. And the record has reflected as much, even if Darnold expressed some hope on Sunday that the team could get on a roll and even think about reaching the playoffs.
At 2-7, that’s simply not happening.
But Johnson remains convinced there are brighter days ahead and delivered a vote of confidence that will almost surely result in Gase’s return next season. Even if the bottom continues to fall out over the last seven games.
“It’s said that you are what your record says you are, and that’s not very impressive,” said Johnson, whose team is 11-30 on his watch. “But looking forward, I think that this is going to be a good team. I have so much faith in Adam and Joe to put together a great future for us.”
That remains to be seen, of course, but this much is true: Johnson’s legacy will now be defined by the decision he has made to stick with Gase, come what may. And there doesn’t seem to be any in between on what lies ahead.
Johnson either gets this right and will be praised for his vision, despite the outcry from a legion of frustrated paying customers, or he will be remembered for perpetuating failure by remaining loyal to Gase.
Johnson has gotten it wrong before when it comes to expressing confidence in his coach and GM. He extended the contracts of Todd Bowles and Maccagnan in 2017, when the Jets went 5-11 but had shown some promise early in the season. Both men are now gone, and the Jets are on the financial hook for Bowles and Maccagnan through the 2020 season.
But Johnson believes this time is different, especially now that the Jets have a promising young quarterback in Darnold and a general manager with a solid background after working in Super Bowl organizations like the Ravens and Eagles.
It’s what happens with Gase that will determine whether Johnson is right this time.
Or whether it’s another swing and a miss.
One he’ll live to regret.