Given that Adam Gase is taking over as head coach of a success-starved franchise in the New York Jets, the pressure is going to be on to win and to win soon, especially given the chaos that’s been taking place in Florham Park recently.
Following the end of a disappointing 2018 season, it was expected that Todd Bowles would be relieved of his duties as head coach of the New York Jets and that turned out to be the case. General manager Mike Maccagnan was also thought to be on the hot seat given the team’s lack of success over his tenure, but ownership decided to keep him around.
In fact, Maccagnan was given the keys to the offseason, which included the hiring of a new head coach in Gase, the spending of over $100 million in free agency, and the selection of a draft class that included the No. 3 overall pick. Because of the responsibility given to him, it was seen as a shock when the Jets decided to fire Maccagnan just a few weeks ago after the draft.
Following the announcement, reports began to surface indicating that the decision was made due to a supposed “rift” between Gase and Maccagnan with some even labeling what had transpired as a “power struggle” that was won by Gase, who’s currently serving as the Jets’ interim general manager.
Speaking to the media on the matter last week, Gase denied these claims. And while the reports may or may not have been true, Gase did offer up one tidbit that is undeniably true.
“I think fans care if we win or lose,” Gase told reporters via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. “If we win games, nobody’s going to care about this, I’ll tell you that. Our job is to win. That’s it.”
It’s no secret that the Jets are going through quite a chaotic time right now, but Gase is completely accurate with this statement. If the Jets are successful next season, this time period and what exactly occurred between Gase and Maccagnan will likely mean very little in the grand scheme of things.
However, that task is obviously easier said than done given the fact that Gase is taking over a team that has compiled a 14-34 record over the last three seasons, has finished in last place in the AFC East in each of those three seasons and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010.
So, how does Gase turn things around and begin to win football games?
First and foremost, it’s important to note what Gase’s main responsibility will be. Upon his hiring, Gase, known as an offensive guru, made it clear that he would be focusing on the offense and that he had hoped to bring in a defensive coordinator that could serve as the “head coach” of the defense. That man turned out to be Gregg Williams.
So in this piece, we’ll be focusing on what exactly Gase needs to do to make the offense successful given that that’s where his focus will lie. Obviously, the Jets will need to be successful in all aspects of the game in order to find overall success as a team, but we’ll lock in on Gase and the offense for now.
Last season, the offense, to be blunt, was downright abysmal at times. And although rookie quarterbacks are expected to experience ups and downs, this wasn’t entirely Darnold’s fault, though he did struggle at times.
More so, however, the offense struggled due in large part to the lack of playmakers Darnold was surrounded with and due to the lack of creativity in Jeremy Bates’ play calling. Simply put, Bates seemed unready for the job. His play calling was basic and predictable, which seemed to hinder not only Darnold but the offense as a whole. Gase can’t be like this.
Instead, Gase needs to be creative with his play calling, which he’s expected to be. In regards to Darnold specifically, Gase needs to let his quarterback off the leash. Instead of basic, short-yardage play calling with limited options, Gase needs to provide Darnold with multiple options, while allowing him the freedom to use his underrated athleticism and mobility to make plays happen.
Moving on, Gase also needs to open up the playbook for his wide receivers. Last year, both Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa were used in ways that limited them.
Anderson, for example, was used primarily as a deep threat. And while that makes sense given his game-changing speed, it doesn’t make sense to only use him in this way. With his speed, Anderson could look to improve his route running and become a much more dangerous weapon. Gase has vowed to use the 26-year-old in a more unique way, which should lead to him becoming a more complete player.
Moving onto Enunwa, the 26-year-old, when healthy, has the skills to be a legitimate weapon for the Jets. However, he too was frustrated by the way in which he was used last year, as he was often dumped the ball in short yardage situations. He’s much more versatile than that, however, and should be used in a way that displays that.
And finally, Gase needs to find a way to maximize the production of newly acquired running back Le’Veon Bell. Though he sat out last season, Bell is widely considered to be the best back in the league.
A dual-threat back who can make plays in both the run game and the passing game, Bell is undoubtedly the most electrifying playmaker the Jets have had in years. The 27-year-old has the ability to not only take Darnold to the next level but to take the team’s offense as a whole to the next level.
Ultimately, the Jets offense seems to be much improved from last year. Sure, there are still holes to fill, but Darnold is certainly surrounded by more talent and the second-year quarterback seems to be progressing well through offseason workouts.
Looking ahead, the Jets offense seems like it has the ability to make some noise in 2019. For Gase, who desperately needs to win, it’s crucial that the unit does just that. If not, more disappointment could be awaiting for the green and white.