Sam Darnold’s relationship with Adam Gase is off to a good start, and it’s one the Jets quarterback hopes lasts a long time.
After Todd Bowles was fired, Darnold said he hopes the Jets’ next coach is his last one. They would need to be very successful for that to happen, and Darnold believes he and the Jets will be just that under Gase.
“I’m really, really excited about this opportunity and all the things Adam can bring this team,” Darnold told ESPN. “For us, it’s about winning. How do you do that? You score more points than the other team. I’m really excited about the opportunity to get to work with him and score a load of points. I think it’s going to be really fun.”
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan had said Darnold would be involved in the interview process and would talk to some of the candidates. According to multiple reports, Darnold FaceTimed with Gase on Monday night. The Jets reached an agreement with Gase to be their coach on Wednesday.
It’s important for Darnold and Gase to establish a good working relationship. It’s no secret that the Jets wanted to hire someone who could bring out the best in Darnold, who the organization believes can become the franchise quarterback the team has been missing for decades, if not a half-century.
Gase was fired as head coach after the Dolphins finished this season 7-9 and ranked 31st in offense, but he is known for being a good offensive mind and a quarterback whisperer.
It didn’t necessarily show in Miami, as he went 23-25 in three seasons. But his quarterbacks were Ryan Tannehill, Jay Cutler, Matt Moore and Brock Osweiler.
Injuries kept Tannehill from playing half of the regular-season games that Gase coached. Even when Tannehill was healthy, his numbers didn’t stand out. He threw 36 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions in those 24 games.
But Gase’s work as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for four years with the Broncos was impressive. Tim Tebow’s only good season — and lone playoff victory — was with Gase as the quarterbacks coach. The season in which Peyton Manning threw a record-setting 55 touchdown passes was Gase’s first year as an NFL offensive coordinator.
Darnold, a student of the game, can’t wait to see what he can do under Gase’s leadership and tutelage.
“When Peyton was doing all those things in Denver, [Gase] was there behind the scenes doing everything,” Darnold told ESPN. “Just him orchestrating this offense and getting it to how he wants it, and being able to manipulate a defense the way we want to do it, it’s just going to be awesome. It’s going to be fun as well.”
Darnold finished his first NFL season with 17 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions in 13 games. He had the expected growing pains, but he came on at the end after missing three games with a foot injury.
Darnold threw six touchdown passes and only one interception in his final four games despite playing without several starters at skill positions and on the offensive line, and for a coach whose strength is defense.
The Jets, who haven’t made the playoffs in eight years, should have roughly $100 million to spend in free agency. They’re expected to try to revamp the offensive line and add more weapons at running back and wide receiver.
Darnold could take a big leap next season by playing with better teammates and a coach who is far more aggressive than offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates was.
“Coach Gase has done amazing things not with just quarterbacks but offenses in general,” Darnold told the Daily News. “I think we can take this a long way. There’s a lot to be excited about. There’s a lot of points that are going to be scored. It’s about meshing together as a team.”