The Jets have made their coaching choice, and it’s probably not the popular one among their long-suffering fans.
Former Dolphins coach Adam Gase will be the Jets’ coach, a league source confirmed Wednesday evening. He will be tasked with turning Sam Darnold into a star and turning around a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs for eight straight years.
Gase, 40, went 23-25 in three seasons with the Dolphins, but he’s a bright young leader with extensive experience working with quarterbacks. The Jets were looking for someone who could bring out the best in Darnold and chose Gase over former Packers coach Mike McCarthy.
Jets CEO Christopher Johnson and general manager Mike Maccagnan interviewed eight candidates to fill the vacancy created when Todd Bowles was fired Dec. 30. Three of them had NFL head-coaching experience — Gase, McCarthy and Jim Caldwell (Colts, Lions).
Gase is the first coach the Jets have hired with head-coaching experience since they brought in Bill Parcells in 1997.
McCarthy was the one many Jets fans wanted. He had the best resume of all the candidates, won a Super Bowl with Green Bay and helped develop Aaron Rodgers into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. But McCarthy’s play-calling was criticized for being too conservative, and he was not always in agreement with Rodgers.
McCarthy reportedly was interested only in the Jets’ job. If the Jets had wanted to hire McCarthy, they could have and would have done it. They apparently were looking for someone more creative and innovative. Instead, they stayed within the AFC East, picking Gase, who was 5-1 against them with Miami.
Gase’s tenure in Miami was inconsistent and unspectacular, but his No. 1 quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, was healthy for only half of the regular-season games Gase coached. The Dolphins’ other quarterbacks were Jay Cutler, Matt Moore and Brock Osweiler.
In his first season, Gase led the Dolphins to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth. They went 13-19 after that and never finished in the top 20 in total offense. This past season, they were 31st out of 32 teams.
The Dolphins fired Gase after he went 7-9 this season. There were rumblings that players didn’t like him and that he gave Tannehill preferential treatment.
Gase’s best work was with Peyton Manning at the end of his career. Manning threw 131 touchdown passes during a three-year stretch when Gase was Denver’s quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator from 2012-14. Manning set a record with 55 touchdown passes in 2013.
Manning endorsed Gase previously, and reportedly put in a call to Johnson to talk about his former coach.
Gase, who served as the Bears’ offensive coordinator for a season before taking over the Dolphins, could bring in some of his coordinators and coaches to fill out his staff. One name to watch could be Vance Joseph. The recently fired Broncos coach was Gase’s defensive coordinator in Miami in 2016. Gase also could try to bring in Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains.
Things were expected to heat up for the Jets Wednesday. They were one of only three teams that hadn’t settled on a coach before tabbing Gase. Earlier in the day, the Browns promoted offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens to be their head coach, and the Broncos hired former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Six jobs altogether have been taken. The Dolphins and Bengals are still looking for coaches.
The Gase news broke shortly after it was reported that coach Matt Rhule had informed his staff Wednesday that he was staying at Baylor. Rhule was very much in the mix for the Jets’ job, and it’s likely the Jets told him they were going in another direction, so he let his coaches know he was staying.
The Jets also interviewed Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy; Cowboys secondary coach and defensive passing game coordinator Kris Richard; former Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken and former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. The Cardinals hired Kingsbury on Tuesday, one day after he met with the Jets.
Bowles was fired after four seasons on the job and no playoff appearances. He went 24-40, including 4-12 this season. Under Bowles, the Jets showed a lack of discipline and an inability to finish games. They also had one of the NFL’s worst offenses this season under coordinator Jeremy Bates.
Jets officials focused on bringing in a creative, aggressive coach who could succeed in the modern NFL, where points are being scored at an all-time high. They believe they have found him.
Pro experience: Dolphins head coach (2016-18, 23-25 record, one playoff appearance, 0-1); Bears offensive coordinator (2015); Broncos offensive coordinator (2013-14); Broncos assistant coach, 2009-12); 49ers assistant coach (2008); Lions assistant coach (2005-07)
Notable: During his two seasons as offensive coordinator, the Broncos led the NFL in points, total yards and passing yards per game. . . . . while he was OC with the Bears, Jay Cutler had one of his most productive seasons.
College: Michigan State