FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The re-education of Sam Darnold has begun.
Darnold was on the practice field Tuesday with most of the Jets’ first-team offense — Le’Veon Bell did not attend the voluntary minicamp — and listened intently to Adam Gase and followed his instructions.
It was the first time the Jets got together as a group, and they’re still in the early phases of everything. Gase’s work with quarterbacks is one of the reasons the Jets hired him. They expect him to bring more out of Darnold, who is excited to be Gase’s latest student.
"It’s going to be fun to just attack this year,” Darnold said. “It’s going to be our thing to attack defenses.
“With Coach Gase and all the coaches on that side of the ball, it’s been awesome. Good things to come. We can all tell.”
The Jets were mostly conservative last season when Darnold was a rookie under defensive-minded coach Todd Bowles and coordinator Jeremy Bates. That’s all going to change with Gase.
Gase, who worked with Peyton Manning for three years in Denver as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, will open up the offense. The Jets have more weapons after signing Bell, slot receiver Jamison Crowder and versatile back Ty Montgomery.
It will be up to Darnold, who will have to learn another new system, to lead this group. Gase has no doubt Darnold will.
“He’ll be able to do some things on his own leading up to the offseason program where he can get guys together,” Gase said. “Right now he has to learn all the stuff before we can get together and start throwing. Seeing him do it live in practice is so different than watching two games live and watching it on tape. He’s got legit ability to throw the football. It was a fun process watching him work through a lot of things mentally.”
Darnold said one of the first things Gase spoke to him about was how his Dolphins prepared for him last year. Darnold has said he plans to speak to new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams about the same subject. He ran the Browns’ defense last season, when the Jets were 0-3 against Gase and Williams.
Gase said he’ll make sure Darnold is comfortable with the plays. He said if there are some Darnold doesn’t like, he will scrap them from the playbook. “If he’s not comfortable with it, it’s probably not going to be good for us,” Gase said.
Darnold enjoyed hearing that, but he said he’s open to trying things. He wants to see the game the way Gase does.
There was one play Tuesday in which Darnold thought he got rid of the ball quickly. But he said Gase told him he could have sped up his drop. Darnold welcomes the coaching.
“It’s figuring out what Coach wants, how he sees it,” Darnold said. “He knows a lot more than I do. It’s finding that right balance of what I think in the drop, how do I feel doing it and being able to communicate that with him so we can kind of find a soft spot in the middle.
“But I know if I’m not comfortable doing something I can let him know, and he’ll adjust off of that or vice versa. If he’s like, ‘No, you got to do it this way,’ I’m going to make sure I nail it down.”
Gase and Darnold are just starting to build their relationship, which will be critical. Darnold said their conversations have been good and have gone beyond football. They talk about family and other matters, which Darnold believes will help them grow more comfortable with each other.
“It’s important to really get to know someone you’re going to be in communication with all year long,” Darnold said. “I think those conversations are as important right now as the football conversations. But as we get into the season, all that will make those football conversations easier.”
It’s just the beginning.