The last game of the Jets’ season and the final one with Adam Gase running the team showed why they’re set to begin a search for a new coach.
Sam Darnold made bad decisions and was picked off twice. The Jets allowed 21 unanswered points in the second half. They ended up losing to the Patriots, 28-14, Sunday afternoon at Gilette Stadium.
This was the final insult for Gase, whose dismissal was announced in a statement by Jets CEO Christopher Johnson on Sunday night. The Jets finished with a 2-14 record. They were 9-23 in two seasons under Gase, with 17 of the losses by at least two scores.
When asked following the game if he believes he should be back, Gase responded, "Me and Christopher will have a discussion. We’ll see how it goes."
Now everyone knows his fate after one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
The Jets started with 13 consecutive losses - many of them non-competitive. They won two in a row before Sunday. But then they melted down after taking a 14-7 lead. Darnold’s two picks were costly – one led to New England touchdown and the other was in the end zone.
"I wanted to win this game," Gase said.
Johnson believed Gase could make the Jets a dynamic offense and help develop Sam Darnold into a franchise quarterback. Neither happened. Now Darnold may have played his last game as a Jet.
Darnold ended the season with nine touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. The Jets could take a quarterback with the No. 2 pick in the draft. For the first time, Darnold voiced some uncertainty about his own future as Jets quarterback.
"I’m not sure," Darnold said.
The Jets have time before they make that decision. First up was Gase.
General manager Joe Douglas will lead a thorough coaching search to find the right man to turn around this franchise. The Jets have missed the playoffs 10 consecutive years.
Among the candidates are Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley.
College coaches including Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, or Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley also could be on the Jets’ radar.
Gase wanted to end the season on a three-game winning streak "because that’s what you remember." It wouldn’t have mattered for his job security or in the standings. But this game showed, once again, why the Jets are moving on from Gase and probably Darnold.
Darnold completed 23-of-34 passes for 266 yards and one touchdown. The two interceptions were head scratchers. Darnold has been known to make those kinds of decisions. Gase was brought in to help that, but Darnold is still making them.
On the first, there were several New England players around Breshad Perriman when Darnold threw it. But he over-threw it and it was picked off by J.C. Jackson. The second, also intended for Perriman, was picked off in the end zone.
Darnold hasn’t developed nearly as quickly or as well as anyone within the Jets hoped when they used the No. 3 pick in 2018 on the former USC star.
The only regular full-time starter with fewer touchdown passes than Darnold was New England’s Cam Newton with eight. He threw three on Sunday – his first in four games.
Newton hadn’t thrown more than one touchdown pass in any game this season. He also caught a touchdown pass for the Patriots, who won’t be in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
With the No. 2 pick, the Jets should have Ohio State’s Justin Fields and BYU’s Zach Wilson should be available to them. Douglas and Gase’s replacement will decide whether to build around Darnold or start fresh with a new quarterback.
Douglas may have seen enough over the past two seasons to determine the Jets need to go in a different direction at quarterback.