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New Jets coach Adam Gase says he's in the right place now

Jets head coach Adam Gase and running back

Jets head coach Adam Gase and running back Le'Veon Bell speak on the field during training camp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on July 31. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Adam Gase is having fun coaching football again, and he plans to do everything he can for the Jets franchise to experience some good times too.

The Jets begin a new season Sunday at home against the Bills, and a new era — the Adam Gase era. 

Jets Chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson has entrusted Gase to change the culture, develop Sam Darnold into the NFL’s next great quarterback, and turn the Jets from mostly laughingstocks into perennial contenders. It’s been eight years since the Jets made the playoffs and 50 since they won a Super Bowl.

Gase is excited about the challenge in front of him. He welcomes the expectations that continue to climb and wants to bring success to long-suffering Jets employees, players and fans.

“Any time you come into a new place you want to do well,” Gase told Newsday. “You want to get that started on the right foot and flip it to where guys go, ‘OK, everything we’re talking about is right and we’re going to keep trying to get better and see how far we can take it.’ At the same time, I know how much Christopher wants to win, (GM) Joe (Douglas), just the whole upstairs.

“Guys have battled and stuck with it and tried to do everything they can to help this team win. It would be great for us to do some good stuff this year just so everybody in the building can feel the success they deserve.”

Gase replaced Todd Bowles in January after Gase had a disappointing three-year run as the Dolphins coach. Gase was touted as an offensive guru and quarterback whisperer from a record-shattering season in Denver when Gase was calling plays in Peyton Manning’s helmet. But it never showed itself in Miami. He went 23-25 and the Dolphins were outscored by 243 points.

Injuries were a factor. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill appeared in 24 games in three seasons. Last year, all five starters on the offensive line missed time and three of Miami’s top five receivers sat at least five games. The Dolphins only averaged 19.9 points. There were also reports of players turning on Gase, who has a strong personality.

But change has been good for Gase and the Jets. He seems to have won over the building with his passion for winning and willingness to listen to his players.

“He’s competitive,” Jamal Adams said. “We’re always competing. We’re always going at it. He’s a coach you want to play for. He lets his guys go out there fly around the ball, do what they do best. He’s going to put everybody in the right position as far as on offense and make those guys score touchdowns. As a coach, I love him.”

Gase said things are easy for him and better now because Adams, Darnold, C.J. Mosley and a number of other players he listed are working hard, share his passion for winning and are willing to listen and learn themselves.

“I enjoy it a lot more,” Gase said. “A lot of it has to do with our players. Our players have allowed me to enjoy every day coming to work. These guys make it so easy to talk football. They make it fun. They go out to practice, they work hard. It just feels right.”

Look no further than Le’Veon Bell.

The Jets’ marquee off-season signing was a focal point of Pittsburgh’s offense. He led the NFL with 406 touches in 2017, the last time he played competitive football. Bell will be a big part of the Jets offense, but Gase wants balance and to spread the ball around to receivers Jamison Crowder, Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, and utilize versatile back Ty Montgomery.

Bell has bought in, though. He’s said touches don’t matter, and he’s used “genius” and “offensive mastermind” to describe Gase.

“I love how into this offense he is,” Gase said. “It could have been easy for him to be like, ‘I don’t really like this, I need to do this.’ He’s been so into it. His attitude has been outstanding. When he practices and you watch a lot of stuff come to life, I’m doing things that I’ve never been able to do because he’s such a unique player. To see his excitement level, it juices everybody else up.”

There have been some rocky times for Gase. When former general manager Mike Maccagnan was fired in May, it was perceived that Gase won a power struggle. Then he took part in the hiring of his friend Douglas. But the two share a vision for building a team. Douglas is another driven football guy who has affected a change of atmosphere within the Jets.

Now it’s all about moving this team forward for Gase and accomplishing all of the things he couldn’t in Miami. He has a good feeling that good times are coming.

“Oh yeah, this is the right place for me,” Gase said. “Being here now, going through a whole spring and training camp, going through all the things that we’ve gone through, having some tough moments and watching how everybody reacted to it and buckle down and every got tighter — this is the right place for me.”

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