New York Jets: Adam Gase is not to blame for Ryan Tannehill’s prior failures

New York Jets (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
New York Jets (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase has retrospectively been blamed for Ryan Tannehill’s shortcomings after his most recent string of success. Is this a valid criticism?

There are plenty of reasons to criticize New York Jets head coach Adam Gase. The former Miami Dolphins head-honcho saw his offense flounder and his players regress in his first season with the Jets.

And while he still has his supporters, he certainly has a significantly larger portion of the fanbase calling for his departure. Either way, Jets fans should get used to him calling the shots because he doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t still discuss valid criticisms.

His offensive game-planning was a mess in 2019 past the opening drive scripts, he didn’t seem to maximize the skill sets of important players like Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell, and his conservative approach in the second half cost the team on multiple occasions.

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And if it wasn’t for Gregg Williams’ defense bailing him out throughout the year, the Jets would have finished with a much worse record than 7-9. But even if all that remains true, is it fair to criticize Gase for the success of his former players after his departure from Miami?

Players like DeVante Parker and Kenyan Drake had career years in 2019 in their first season “free” of Gase. But in this case, we’re going to be looking at Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Is Adam Gase to blame for Ryan Tannehill’s previous shortcomings?

First, it’s important to understand the timeline. Tannehill was drafted by the Dolphins with the seventh overall pick back in 2012. But Gase didn’t arrive in Miami until the 2016 season which was Tannehill’s fifth year in the league.

Prior to Gase, Tannehill put up middling numbers with his best season coming in 2014. The following chart shows his career numbers prior to Gase’s hiring.

Nothing awful, but nothing special either. But when Gase was brought over from the Denver Broncos prior to the 2016 season, the hope was that Tannehill could finally break through and become the player Miami hoped he would be.

Evidently, that didn’t happen for a multitude of reasons. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t find moderate success.

In his first season under Adam Gase, Tannehill put together perhaps the best year of his career up until this season. The Texas A&M product tallied career-highs in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and quarterback rating as he led the Dolphins to a 10-6 postseason berth.

Unfortunately, Tannehill would injure his knee and miss the final three regular-season games of the season as well as the team’s only postseason game. It was a sign of things to come for Tannehill’s tenure in Miami.

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In early August of 2017, Tannehill would tear his ACL in practice and be forced to miss the entire season. It was a major blow to both Tannehill and the Dolphins and Gase was forced to roll with the recently-retired Jay Cutler as his quarterback.

Tannehill returned in 2018 but missed five starts due to a shoulder injury and struggled with a waning supporting cast around him. And that was it for both Tannehill and Gase in Miami as both were sent packing this past offseason.

Here’s a final look at Tannehill’s numbers under Gase.

That 2016 season was one of his best, but the writing was on the wall after his tragic torn ACL in 2017. The Dolphins were a different team and wanted to go in a different direction.

So what about now? Is Tannehill’s success directly tied to his new coaching staff?

The Titans’ coaching staff has certainly helped, but it’s foolish to act as though that’s the only thing.

Tannehill is finally healthy again and now a couple of years removed from his knee injury. On top of that, he’s been given a better supporting cast than he’s likely ever had in his career.

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Derrick Henry is among the best running backs in football at the moment, the Titans’ offensive line is better than anything he ever had in Miami, and they have enough options at receiver to allow for Tannehill to flourish.

You could criticize Gase for a lot of things — and believe me, I’ve been chief among his detractors — but let’s be fair for a moment. Tannehill’s success isn’t directly correlated with Gase’s absence.

This isn’t to say that Gase is a good coach and it certainly doesn’t excuse his shortcomings in New York so far. But it is being fair and calling a spade a spade.

Adam Gase deserves plenty of criticism for how he’s handled his coaching tenure with the Jets so far and he absolutely deserves criticism for how he ran the Dolphins.

But in regards to Ryan Tannehill, it isn’t all on him. Sure, you could argue that he didn’t maximize his potential and instead opted for his own system requirements over Tannehill’s true strengths.

That’s a fair critique.

But Tannehill’s failure in Miami and subsequent success in Tennessee is not solely a product of Gase.

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And even though this isn’t a silver lining for Jets fans and it’s absolutely not an argument in favor of Adam Gase, it is important to remain impartial and unbiased.

That alone could salvage our sanity as Jets fans.