The Jets’ cavalry should be coming soon. That could be a good thing or a bad thing for coach Adam Gase.
Gase’s job security has been a question all week, but it was widely believed that he wouldn’t be fully evaluated until the Jets were at or close to full strength. The NFL Network reported as much.
Frustrated Jets fans certainly will say they have seen enough to know that Gase is not the right man to lead this team. Jets CEO Christopher Johnson doesn’t necessarily share that sentiment.
The Jets’ offense has been dreadful. They scored just four touchdowns heading into Thursday night’s game against the Broncos at MetLife Stadium. That, Sam Darnold’s struggles and the lack of competitive fire that the winless Jets have shown overall – their three losses were by 57 points combined – seemingly had Gase’s seat red-hot.
But two weeks ago, Johnson publicly supported Gase. He pointed to the Jets' 6-2 record the second half of last season. Johnson surely is hoping for a repeat performance.
That’s what makes this stretch of upcoming games particularly interesting and important for Gase.
The Jets’ top receiver, Jamison Crowder, returned Thursday after missing two games with a hamstring injury that sidelined him for two games. Running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receivers Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims could return for next Sunday’s game against Arizona.
"We've got quite a few guys that are going to be available to come off of IR after this game," Gase said. "We’re looking at getting three to five back possibly."
Bell and Mims – both on IR with hamstring issues – are eligible to return next week. Perriman has missed two games. He wasn’t placed on IR, which is a minimum of three games, so the Jets must have believed he would be back before then.
If, with the starting skill players on the field, Darnold and the Jets don’t show the improvement and progress that Johnson is looking for, then Gase’s seat likely will be scorching.
"It’s hard to say anything offensively," Gase said when asked about the Jets’ identity. "Once we play with our starting wide receiver group, I’ll have a better idea what that looks like. Once Lev gets back. It’s hard to say after three games."
The Jets' expected first-team receiving corps of Crowder, Perriman and Mims caught a total of 12 passes heading into Thursday’s game.
They actually have been without five of their top six receivers. Jeff Smith and Vyncint Smith went on IR before the season. Jeff Smith (shoulder) was taken off IR before Thursday’s game. Vyncint Smith (core-muscle surgery) may come off next week, too.
Consider this: Before Thursday, Braxton Berrios and Kalen Ballage (seven each) had as many receptions as Perriman (five) and Bell (two) combined. Josh Malone (six) had triple and Lawrence Cager (four) double the targets of Bell (two).
As disappointing as Bell’s 2019 season with the Jets, he was primed for a big year. At the very least, he was going to be a big part of the offense. He hurt his hamstring in the Jets’ Week 1 loss, after just eight touches.
Mims hasn’t appeared in an NFL game. The second-round pick from Baylor hurt his hamstring running routes before training camp started. He missed all of camp, and then aggravated his other hamstring in the second practice.
Perriman, who replaced Robby Anderson as the Jets’ deep threat, has caught just five passes for 29 yards. He suffered an ankle injury in the first half of the Jets’ Week 2 loss to the 49ers.
Anderson, meanwhile, has 20 catches for 278 yards and a touchdown for the Carolina Panthers. He’s sixth in receiving yards and ninth in receptions. Not re-signing Anderson, who had chemistry with Darnold, has looked like a bad move. That falls on general manager Joe Douglas.
Gase is taking all the bullets right now, but Douglas doesn’t deserve a pass. He helped assemble a team that everyone knew was short on receivers and skill players, not to mention pass rushers and cornerbacks. The Jets have looked overmatched and unprepared on both sides of the ball
Douglas’ style is to build methodically, don’t go for the big splash, but be ready in case a game-changing deal comes your way. In the meantime, everything would have had to go perfectly for the Jets to have a competitive season. And that certainly hasn’t happened.