FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Adam Gase doesn’t like reflecting on the season until everything is said and done. He still is preparing for one more game, and he hates that there isn’t at least one more after that.
“That’s the toughest part about this week,” the Jets’ coach said Thursday morning. “You always want to play another week. You want a chance to get in the tournament and see what happens, because once you get in there, anything can happen.”
A 1-7 start to the season essentially destroyed any chances of playoff football this winter for the Jets and their long-suffering fans. It’s been nine years since they last reached the tournament.
Gase led the Dolphins to the playoffs in his first season as an NFL coach in 2016. He’s been shut out since then.
There were expectations for the Jets this season, but injuries, illness and some questionable play-calling was too much to overcome.
If there is a glimmer of hope for next season, it’s in how the Jets are finishing the season. If they can win at Buffalo in Sunday’s finale, they will have gone 6-2 in the second half of the season.
The Jets continued to fight for each other even though they weren’t playing for much. Some young or unproven players developed and helped their chances of sticking around.
But there still is an empty feeling for Gase, who believed his first season as Jets coach would go much differently. He’s not alone.
“I love the fact that our guys kept battling, kept practicing hard, kept trying to find a way to improve and flip it around,” he said. “But I hate it for our fans and everybody. There were high hopes going into the season. We didn’t play very well at the beginning of the year. We had too many negative things happen. We didn’t find a way to win games. We just got going too late.”
Gase drew the ire of those fans with the rough start to the season. Many of them wanted him fired during that dreadful start, especially after the Week 9 loss to previously winless Miami. The Jets later lost to the Bengals, and it remains Cincinnati’s only victory of the season.
Those embarrassing defeats didn’t reflect well on Gase, but he has the support of CEO Christopher Johnson.
After the loss to the Dolphins, Johnson informed the team that there would be no coaching changes. He gave Gase a public endorsement the following week and said he will be the coach in 2020. Johnson trusts Gase and general manager Joe Douglas, and he doesn’t want too much upheaval for Sam Darnold.
The Jets believe that Darnold, if healthy, will take a big leap next season in his second year in Gase’s system. He has shown marked improvement with his comfort level in the offense.
Safety Jamal Adams recently said the Jets are close to turning the corner and that next season will be different. This has been said by many Jets many times through the years, but Gase said he won’t look into the future.
“It’s hard for me to think that far,” he said. “It’s a long ways away if you think Week 1 next year. My brain always goes right to spring. What’s that going to look like? What can we do offensively? What do I have to change defensively or offensively or special teams? That’s how my mindset goes.
“As players, they go right to the season sometimes. We’re still in this one right now. I love the fact that Jamal feels great about the direction we’re going in and how things are coming together and how guys are playing together. Once we start up, there are so many factors before we hit that season.”