Adam Gase mostly took the high road after being blistered by Jamal Adams before the Jets traded him to Seattle. Gase wished Adams the best, but the Jets’ second-year coach sounds confident that they will be just fine without their only Pro Bowl player last year.
After general manager Joe Douglas addressed holes on the offensive line, the secondary and receiving corps, Gase sees a team that is much deeper than a year ago and a strong locker room filled with players who are committed to ending the Jets’ nine-year playoff drought.
“We always look at it as we want guys that want to be here,” Gase said during a conference call Tuesday. “Obviously he didn’t want to be here anymore. So the decision was made to move on.
"It’s a team game. We got a bunch of guys that are excited to get going. Those are the guys I’m going to focus on. I’m extremely fired up to get this roster that Joe D. and our personnel guys did a great job of assembling this offseason. From the conversation I’ve had with a lot of guys, they’re extremely excited to get this thing rolling.”
It's going to take some time, though. Veteran players reported to Florham Park, New Jersey, on Tuesday to begin testing for COVID-19. Quarterback Sam Darnold reported last week, and was tested twice already. His first time in the Jets practice facility was Tuesday. Players will take part in virtual meetings and do strength and conditioning for the next couple of weeks. MidAugust is when teams are expected to begin practicing.
Whenever that happens, the Jets will be without Adams, one of the loudest voices, hardest workers and most productive players. But Gase said the Jets have plenty of leadership with players such as Steve McLendon, Jordan Jenkins, Brian Poole, C.J. Mosley, Darnold and Le’Veon Bell. Gase also said they’re better overall than the team that went 7-9 last season, including 6-2 to end the season.
“I really like the depth that has been created by what the front office has done,” Gase said. “We have stronger backups than what we had last year. I feel like we have a way deeper roster. I really love the attitude that this locker room has. Now with the new guys that we’ve added, I feel like they’re the right guys.
"It’s all about the locker room, that’s where it’s going to start and end and making sure when that group is tight it’s going to give us our best chance to win games.”
Before being sent to Seattle with a 2022 fourth-round pick to the Seahawks for first-round picks in 2021 and ’22, a ’21 third-rounder and eighth-year safety Bradley McDougald, Adams criticized Gase as a leader. Adams said he wasn’t the right man to lead the Jets “to the Promised Land” in an interview with the Daily News. But Gase wouldn’t address that.
“With Jamal, we wish him nothing but the best,” Gase said. “That’s a done deal. I’m going to focus on the players that are currently on our roster.”
Gase did eventually answer Adams’ claim that he doesn’t address the team as a whole at halftime. Naturally, he disputed it.
“As far as the alleged addressing at halftime, there were only two times in the second half of the season that we were down at halftime,” Gase said. “One was the Cincinnati game, I addressed the team at halftime. One was the Baltimore game, I addressed the team at halftime. One game he was in the training room at Cincinnati. The other game he wasn’t playing. It’s hard for me to answer a question like that when I know the correct answer.”
Darnold came to Gase’s defense, saying, “he’s the right leader for this team for sure.” and credited him for his growth as a quarterback.
“I really loved playing with Jamal,” Darnold said. “I can’t speak for Jamal’s experiences or the comments that he made. I can say I’m very excited to be a part of this organization. I think we’re going in the right direction and we just got to continue to move forward.”