New York Jets – On The Head Coach

Joe Belic mounts his defense of Adam Gase

Jets fandom has its sights set on a new target, and the mission to fire Gase is in full effect.  While Gase deserves his share of the blame, I can’t say I’m behind the incessant desire to disparage him on social media, and it’s hard to find a discussion Jets related that is about much else.  I’m not here to defend Gase (I have my issues with him), but there is a difference between constructive criticism and destructive hate.  

The Jets have one of the worst offensive lines in football, remain inundated with injuries, and lost Sam Darnold to illness for much of the year.  Gase, in particular, has never (not once) had his starting quarterback for a full season. While with Miami, Gase (23-25 overall record) made the playoffs his first season despite Tannehill’s absence for the final three games with an injury.  Tannehill missed the entire 2017 season with an ACL tear and only played eleven games in 2018 because of a shoulder issue. In the three years with Gase, Tannehill was only available for 24 of 48 games.  

While it’s fair to evaluate the coach (good or bad), it’s hard to imagine anybody having success under these circumstances, and I’m curious as to how other coaches performed in similar conditions.  In this week’s analysis, I breakdown five noteworthy examples

Kyle Shanahan was 6-10 his first season (2017) in San Francisco and only won one game before making a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, who went 5-0 as the starter.  In 2018, with Jimmy G. missing the majority of the season to an ACL tear, the 49ers fell to 4-12 and ranked 27th in offensive DVOA (it’s worth noting the 49ers started three first-round picks on the offensive line). With their starting QB in place, this season, the 49ers (11-3) are one the best teams in the league and maintain the potential to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. 

Frank Reich is considered an up-and-coming coach. Last season, with a revamped offensive line and Andrew Luck, the Colts were 10-6 and made the postseason.  While I’m higher on Jacoby Brissett than most, Indianapolis clearly took a step back without Luck. The Colts have six wins compared to the Jets’ five and have an all-around more talented team as well as a far superior offensive line. 

Where was Pete Carroll prior to Russell Wilson’s arrival in the Emerald City? Carroll was on the verge of losing another head coaching job while posting back to back 7-9 records in Seattle.  Current MVP candidate Wilson paved a yellow brick road that changed the trajectory of Carroll’s career and the entire Seahawks organization. Seattle went on to enjoy a Super Bowl victory and are perennial postseason contenders. 

Bill Belichick, who was 36-44 before being fired in Cleveland, spent the next four seasons as a defensive coordinator before becoming head coach with the Patriots and was 5-11 in his first season there. His second year, the Pats started 0-1 before an injury—during a Jets game—put Drew Bledsoe on the bench and Tom Brady into the starting lineup. Unfortunately, for Jets fans, the rest is history.  

Marv Levy was a mediocre 31-42 (with Kansas City) before taking the job with the Buffalo Bills midway through the season in 1986.  His career finally took off when given the opportunity to coach a viable QB. Levy’s first two seasons (9-13 record) with future Hall of Famer Jim Kelly were up and down, but they remained steadfast and proved to be a good match.  It wasn’t until 1988 when things finally turned around for Buffalo as Kelly and Levy started their reign as one of the most feared coach-QB duos in the league. They went on to dominate the conference for years and won four AFC championships in a row.  

Let me make this clear, I’m not claiming that Adam Gase is any of these coaches.  However, I am asking for some patience. Under the current circumstances, it’s not egregious to give Gase one more season to prove his worth.  With a healthy Sam Darnold and CJ Mosley, an overhauled offensive line, and revamped secondary, the Jets have the potential to take the next step. 

I completely understand why so many fans are ready to move on, Gase’s play calling and lack of in-game adjustments can be frustrating, but clamoring for Gase’s removal, at this point, is unproductive.  I don’t care how much noise is made, Adam Gase is clearly going to be the head coach next season. His friend, Joe Douglas, isn’t going to fire him with a roster that neither of them had a hand in building, a horrific offensive line, and a quarterback still learning the position.