Adam Gase saw a lot of things he didn’t like after re-watching the Jets’ collapse. He challenged his players to work harder and be mentally stronger.
Gase never mentioned anyone by name. But he singled out some position groups — the offensive line, wide receivers, cornerbacks and the defense as a whole — for the Jets’ 17-16 loss to Buffalo on Sunday.
The Jets allowed 17 unanswered points to end the game, 14 of them after middle linebacker C.J. Mosley left with a groin injury. Gase said the Jets can’t crumble like they did when they lost Mosley.
“Just do your job,” Gase said on a conference call Monday afternoon. “When we get to the fourth quarter, we get to [crunch] time, when it’s time where things are really getting tough, things are really getting hairy, the best players don’t change. The players that make an impact in the fourth quarter don’t change, everybody else does.
“The guys that panic and play different in the fourth quarter, that’s the thing we have to clean up. We have to get it to where we play the fourth quarter the same as we play the first quarter.”
Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams said he felt as if “our energy died” in the fourth quarter. That’s when the defense — without Mosley — gave up touchdowns on drives of 85 and 80 yards. Gase said there is no excuse for that.
“That was something that we addressed today,” Gase said. “We need to understand when you lose somebody the next guy has to step up. We can’t have any loss of energy. We can’t have any lapses. We can’t lose our mind. It’s one of those things where it’s easier said than done. That’s one of those things we have to do, that’s our job.”
Gase, the offensive play-caller, took heat for how his unit performed in his first game as Jets coach. But one thing Gase noted was that Sam Darnold was “better than what I initially thought.”
Darnold wasn’t without fault though.
Gase acknowledged that Darnold, who was 28-for-41 for 175 yards, could have done some things better, including “read the coverages correctly with the receivers.” But Gase also said the offensive line, which played its first game together, made mistakes that led to Darnold being under duress. The Bills had nine quarterback hits and sacked Darnold four times.
Gase was most critical of the receivers, and he seemed to be talking about Robby Anderson in particular. Late in the game, with a chance to win, Anderson had his defender beat, but he seemed to pull up instead of running all the way through.
“If we make plays on the balls we actually threw down the field that’s a different number,” Gase said about Darnold’s 4.3-yards per pass attempt. “We had opportunities. We had a chance to win the game. We come out of our double move, the guy falls down, we don’t come out running. If we do that, all of a sudden we’re scoring a touchdown. Guys got to do a better job of executing what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Darnold took the blame there, saying he needed to “be better and more accurate” with his throws.
Gase had some criticism for the cornerbacks as well.
That position was considered a weak link and it was against the Bills. Trumaine Johnson allowed six catches for 74 yards and had a 15-yard facemask penalty. Darryl Roberts gave up five receptions for 77 yards, the game-winning touchdown to John Brown, and he had a defensive holding that negated an interception.
“We have slight room for improvement,” Gase said. “I’ll say that nicely.”
But Gase became defiant when asked why running back Ty Montgomery didn’t play nearly as much as expected, and if he would be more involved going forward.
Montgomery took the first-team reps in the preseason when Le’Veon Bell sat, and was being touted as a dual-threat weapon the Jets would use to their advantage. But Montgomery played only five snaps, and had two touches.
“That’s my decision,” Gase said. “Everything is week-to-week. It’s how I feel during the play calling. If I feel like we need to be in those certain personnel groupings then I’ll do it. If I don’t, that’s the beauty part of being the head coach. I can basically do what I want.”
And say what he wants.