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July 19, 2019

Mehta: Making the case for Adam Gase to lead Sam Darnold and the Jets into the future

January 9, 2019

He’s smart, confident and doesn’t put up with any B.S. He realizes that a rotten culture will destroy everything. He’s got no time for knuckleheads.

Adam Gase might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but his creative mind and experience helping quarterbacks are solid qualities that would make him a smart hire for the Jets.

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Look beneath the surface with the former Dolphins head coach and you’ll discover that he fulfills what Gang Green is looking for to springboard them — and Sam Darnold — into the future.

It’s whisper-down-the-lane season during the coaching carousal, so rumors run rampant. Rumblings that Gase was some sort of caustic presence who alienated the locker room are overblown or just plain untrue.

Let’s dispel one giant myth: Gase did not lose the Dolphins’ locker room.

Frank Gore, one of the team’s veteran leader, also did not privately chastise Gase as had been erroneously noted.

The reality from talking to people in the know is that the 40-year-old Gase is a terrific communicator with players. He has a keen understanding of player psychology designed to build confidence.

He had one unyielding requirement: You have to love football.

Gase wanted players to eat, sleep and breathe the game, players committed to pull the rope the same way. Publicly or privately whining about contracts or playing time was a one-way ticket out of town.

You have to respect that about the man. He didn’t put up with garbage. He respected players and asked for one thing in return: Respect the game.

Forget what you know about Adam Gase … he would be a good fit for Sam Darnold and the Jets. (Brynn Anderson / AP)

Scorned former Dolphins players Jarvis Landry’s and Jordan Phillips’ tweets in the wake of Gase’s ouster merely confirmed their knucklehead status. They underscored what Gase knew all along: You don’t want people like that in your building.

Gase’s strong personality can galvanize a place. His bravado can be contagious … or rub some people the wrong way.

His mindset and message to his team are pure. It’s some variation of this every week: We’re going to score 50 points and kick their ass.

He’s a motivator and innovator. He would be downright great for Darnold, whose development is at the heart of this process.

Critics that point to Miami’s sub-par offensive statistics during Gase’s three-year 23-26 run need to dig deeper. You’d hope that the Jets brass would do their research to better understand why the Dolphins finished with the 17th, 28th and 26th ranked scoring offenses.

Smart people look beyond the numbers. Jets fans should keep their fingers crossed that their team’s decision makers are smart enough to diagnosis why the Dolphins went 6-10 and 7-9 the past two seasons after Gase made the playoffs with a 10-win campaign in his first year on the job.

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Gase, frankly, overachieved this season given the litany of injuries and dearth of talent on his roster. The Dolphins had 13 relevant players suffer season-ending injuries, including two starting offensive linemen, their top cornerback and best run-stuffer.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill missed five more games after being shelved for the entire 2017 season. Gase won seven games with Tannehill and Brock Freakin’ Osweiler. It’s a wonder that owner Stephen Ross didn’t ink Gase, who went 20-6 in one-score games during his tenure, to a lifetime contract given this miracle.

Just look at what Adam Gase did with Ryan Tannehill as his quarterback.
Just look at what Adam Gase did with Ryan Tannehill as his quarterback. (Jeffrey T. Barnes / AP)

Gase’s biggest shortcoming, frankly, might have been placing so much faith in Tannehill, who never fulfilled his promise. The coach’s rationale upon his arrival was warranted: With so much doubt swirling around Tannehill’s ability to be a true franchise quarterback, the coach wanted to instill him — and everyone else in the building — with confidence that he could succeed.

By the end, there was understandable frustration from players since it became obvious that Tannehill wasn’t the answer.

Gase’s experience helping quarterbacks is one of his enticing traits. He helped transform the Broncos offense mid-stream in 2011 during the Great Tim Tebow Experiment that pushed Denver into the playoffs. Gase, the Broncos quarterbacks coach at the time, had a significant role with offensive coordinator Mike McCoy to tailor a scheme to Tebow’s strengths.

That’s one of Gase’s best qualities. He understands how to maximize a players’ strengths. He also understands which personnel makes most sense for his schemes (which was not necessarily the case with the last Jets coaching staff).

Gase also brought out the best in Jay Cutler in Chicago in 2015 when the historically erratic signal caller threw for a career-low 11 interceptions with a career-high 92.3 passer rating. Peyton Manning had a career renaissance working with Gase for two years in Denver that produced a Super Bowl appearance and the highest scoring season in NFL history.

Peyton Manning had a career revival working with Adam Gase in Denver.
Peyton Manning had a career revival working with Adam Gase in Denver. (Kathy Willens / AP)

Gase had to dust off Cutler in 2017 after Tannehill’s season-ending injury. He managed six wins that season with Cutler, Matt Moore and David Fales under center. Again, a miracle.

Gase has confidence and leadership traits coming out of his pores. He’ll likely have to soften some of his edges (skirmishes with management and/or ownership are counterproductive even if it comes from a good place), but he has all the traits to be successful the second time around in charge.

His decision to turn over his defense to Vance Joseph in his first season helped produce the Dolphins’ first playoff appearance since 2008. It would be smart for Gase to bring in an experienced defensive coordinator if he gets a second chance with the Jets.

He won’t have contractual control of the 53-man roster like he did in Miami, but there’s no real reason to think that he wouldn’t be able to work well with Mike Maccagnan.

Gase would be a quality hire.

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