FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Adam Gase’s first season as Jets coach has been filled with ugly performances and bad losses and now there will be nothing but meaningless games for the rest of December.
The Jets haven’t been eliminated yet, but it could happen Sunday when they face the Dolphins.
Less than five months ago, Gase said the Jets would be playing meaningful football in December. Any and all hopes of that ended with last week’s head-scratching 22-6 loss to previously winless Cincinnati.
“Nobody is more disappointed than we are,” Gase said Wednesday. “Things didn’t work out for us this year. We couldn’t get things rolling in the right direction. We lose our quarterback for three games, it kind of set us back. We could never keep a core group of guys healthy long enough to really gain that chemistry.
“We just got to find a way to keep getting better these last four weeks and do the right thing, prepare the right way, practice the right way, execute on Sunday. Try to put one good game together so we can win this week.”
It was surprising for Gase to speak in the past tense at the start of this comment. The season isn’t over yet. Also, while it’s true the 4-8 Jets have been besieged by injuries, it sounds like an excuse for his team never getting into a rhythm.
The offensive-minded Gase also has opened himself up for criticism for the Jets ranking at or near the bottom in total offense, as well as his inability to utilize or get more out of dynamic dual threat running back Le’Veon Bell.
The Jets also are the first team in NFL history to lose to two winless teams in the same season who entered a game 0-7 or worse — the Dolphins and the Bengals. You can’t pin those defeats on injuries.
It has been a tough season from that standpoint, though.
Only seven projected starters on offense and defense have played in every game: Bell, Jamison Crowder, Robby Anderson, Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Steve McLendon and Brian Poole. That number could drop this week: Adams has an ankle injury and Poole is in concussion protocol.
Still, other teams have dealt with injuries and have either overcome them or at least have been competitive. Six of the Jets’ losses have been by two touchdowns or more. Sam Darnold played in three of those lopsided defeats.
The Steelers are 7-5. They lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2, and have been without running back James Conner and receiver Juju Smith-Schuster for multiple games.
This speaks to how well the Steelers have drafted and the culture they have. The Jets clearly did not draft well under former general manager Mike Maccagnan, and they’re undergoing a culture change.
Gase and new GM Joe Douglas have yet to put their official stamp on the team. This offseason will be huge for this pairing.
But as they figure out who will be a part of the future, Gase is expecting his players to prepare and practice with the intent of getting better and have a positive ending to another disappointing season. He hopes something will carry over to next season.
“There are so many moving parts a lot of times that it doesn’t always,” Gase said. “But if your core group guys are doing things right and they feel like this is how we do things, then going into next season they know this is how we do it. When the new guys come in they’re kind of leading the charge on that.
“When that happens that’s a positive thing because it’s less learning and it’s more, ‘Hey we’ve repped this. We’ve done this. We know how we do it. We know the process, we know how we need to do it to have success.’ ”