Adam Gase is tuning out all the noise around him about his job security that will only get louder if the Jets lose again this week.
Rumors are swirling that Gase’s job could be on the line Thursday when the Jets host the Broncos at MetLife Stadium.
It’s a very winnable game, and it certainly would help their coach’s staying power if the Jets got their first victory of 2020. But Gase’s focus is on getting his players mentally prepared to compete.
"I have to do a great job of making sure that I keep our players in the right head space because a lot of negativity is coming at you and things are hard," Gase said on a conference call Monday afternoon. "That’s when everybody’s character has to show up. They got to go to work and we got to get it fixed."
The Broncos, like the Jets, are 0-3. And both teams have been ravaged by injuries to key players. But at least Denver has been competitive. Two of their losses have been by a total of seven points. The Jets' three losses have been by 10, 18 and 29 points.
Those kinds of defeats put a bull's-eye squarely on the coach’s back.
"This is the NFL," Gase said. "We’re 0-3, we haven’t played well. We have to improve quickly. My job is to do everything I can to get our guys in the right head space heading into [Thursday]."
Things have unraveled pretty quickly.
Gase received a vote of confidence from CEO Christopher Johnson less than two weeks ago. But the team hasn’t shown improvement. Their 36-7 loss to the Colts on Sunday was a definite blemish for the beleaguered Gase.
The Jets showed no fight and the coach’s star pupil, quarterback Sam Darnold, threw three interceptions, two of them pick-6's.
"We did some things that we shot ourselves in the foot to where now the game gets out of control," Gase said.
Gase was back in the Jets’ offices Monday, meeting with general manager Joe Douglas and discussing possible roster moves. Gase also had a conversation with Johnson, but he wouldn’t provide many details.
"I talk to Christopher almost every day," Gase said. "He’s here all the time. I saw him today. Joe and myself were going over some roster stuff. He came in and we just sat there and kind of reviewed the game a little bit and talked about what we’re going to do this week."
Johnson does think very highly of Gase as a leader. He credited Gase for guiding the Jets to a 6-2 finish last year after a miserable 1-7 start. Injuries were a factor last year as well.
But it’s been a rough go with plenty of bad results and optics.
Veteran players Bradley McDougald and Avery Williamson saying that practices can be slow and sluggish didn’t help Gase. Neither has Darnold’s play.
Two of Darnold’s interceptions Sunday were returned for touchdowns and one was in the end zone, killing a potential Jets’ scoring drive.
Gase was hired to help develop Darnold into a franchise quarterback. He certainly hasn’t looked like one. Darnold has thrown three touchdown passes, four interceptions and has a quarterback rating of 70.7. Only two starters have lower ratings – Daniel Jones and Carson Wentz.
"I have to be smart with the football and make the right decisions," Darnold said.
Gase said he spoke to Darnold on the plane ride home from Indianapolis and again Monday, and showed him his mistakes. On the first pick, Gase said rookie Lawrence Cager, who was making his NFL debut, needed to run a better route. The other two were bad decisions by Darnold.
Despite Darnold’s struggles, Gase said he didn’t think about taking him out of the game. Gase stuck with Darnold because he wants him to work through his mistakes.
"I feel like that’s always a tough decision because he’s 23 years old and he’s in his third year," Gase said. "I think every snap he takes in a real game is so valuable. They’re learning experiences. You have to go through tough situations sometimes. It’s not always going to be smooth."
Gase can relate.