Adam Gase’s first season as Jets coach has featured injuries and illness to important players, never-ending drama and just one win. This probably is not the way he wanted to return to Miami.
The Dolphins fired Gase last December after three seasons. His ouster was somewhat unexpected, but he said revenge and redemption won’t be on his mind Sunday against 0-7 Miami.
“Where we're at right now, my focus is on us,” Gase said. “If it wasn’t, then that would be terrible on my part. We got to get our deal fixed. We got to get ourselves ready for this game. All that stuff is irrelevant.”
It’s the right approach for a coach, especially one of a team that’s 1-6 and in total disarray.
Players facing their former teams for the first time usually have extra fire and desire to do well or make game-changing plays. Coaches have to have the bigger picture in mind and not get affected by personal feelings.
“I think it will be weird for me on Sunday,” Gase said. “As far as anything else, I got nothing there as far as hatred. I just moved past it. We didn’t win enough games.”
Gase led the Dolphins to a 10-6 record and the playoffs in his first season. He was 13-19 his last two years in Miami, and there was plenty of drama, too. He had personality conflicts with some players who reportedly were happy that Gase was fired.
Wide receiver DeVante Parker’s agent called Gase “incompetent” for the way he used his client. Gase admitted his relationship with wide receiver Jarvis Landry “fractured at some point.” Landry was traded to Cleveland in 2018.
But other Dolphins, including receiver Jakeem Grant, spoke this week about Gase being “a great coach” and having “a relationship with him outside of football.”
The Dolphins are moving in a different direction. The plan after last season was to tear down their roster and “Tank for Tua” Tagovailoa, the Alabama quarterback, who is the potential top pick in the 2020 draft. In that respect, it’s going well for winless Miami.
But this is a must-win game for the Jets, and how they play Sunday will tell plenty about how the players feel about their coach. A loss would be rock-bottom for the Jets and Gase.
“That's how you're thinking,” he said. “I'm worried about us getting better.”
For good reason.
Gase was supposed to be the answer to the Jets’ offensive woes, the coach who was supposed to help Sam Darnold become a franchise quarterback. Everyone’s still waiting.
Darnold has thrown seven interceptions in the past two games. Le’Veon Bell, one of the NFL’s best dual-threat backs, has been ineffective and voiced his displeasure to Gase after getting only 12 touches in last week’s loss to Jacksonville.
There has been little creativity on offense. The Jets are last in the NFL in offensive touchdowns, total yards, passing yards and rushing yards. They have allowed the most sacks.
The team's struggles are not all Gase’s fault, but part of his job is to steer the Jets through turbulence, and there has been plenty of that.
Darnold missed three games with mononucleosis. Defensive leader C.J. Mosley has played in only two games. Avery Williamson, who led the Jets in tackles last season, tore his ACL in the preseason.
Guard Kelechi Osemele was at odds with the organization over a shoulder injury and the Jets fined him for missing practice. Osemele had surgery without the team’s authorization and filed a grievance with the players’ union, and the Jets released him last week.
Before the Jets lost to the Jaguars, acting owner Christopher Johnson told a fan, “Hopefully the team will actually show up.”
Star safety Jamal Adams isn’t on speaking terms with Gase and general manager Joe Douglas because Douglas took trade calls and listened to other teams' offers for him after Adams told the two of them he wanted to remain a Jet.
“It's a normal NFL season,” Gase said. “Just the results haven’t been there.”
Wait, what? This is normal?
“I’m sure there’s other head coaches that would say, ‘I’m going through everything you’re going through,’ ” Gase said. “You just got to keep getting guys ready to be available. You got to do all the little things to give yourself a shot on Sunday.
“There’s always going to be something that comes up. That’s the way this league is. It’s always been that way. We got to keep moving and try to find a way to win the game.”
It’s up to Gase to lead the Jets out of this mess and get their season back on course, starting with this game against his former team. His players said they haven’t noticed him putting any extra emphasis on the game because of the opponent.
“He's been the same,” Darnold said.
“He’s a good guy at not letting his emotion show until the Saturday before the game,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins added. “He’s been keeping his composure all week. I haven’t seen any tells.”
Jets offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains worked with Gase in Miami last year. Loggains said Gase hasn’t spoken about going back to Miami and has kept his focus on getting the Jets ready for the game.
“He invested a lot in the [Dolphins'] organization,” Loggains said. “As a head coach, you pour your heart and soul into everything, just like he is right now for us and trying to improve us in every area . . . I know that he poured his heart into trying to make it the best program he could.”
Gase is trying to do the same now. But he’s off to a really rough start with the Jets in what has been anything but a normal NFL season.