Sam Darnold’s return will ratchet up Jets pressure on Adam Gase

We have not yet reached the point at which Adam Gase’s job is in jeopardy. Not even close.

Not even Ray Handley got fired a month into his first regular season as a New York head coach. Rich Kotite got two years.

But the tenor of the questions Gase was peppered with after the Jets’ 30-14 loss to the Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, which left them 0-3 and reeling into their bye this week, suggested otherwise.

Gase was hired for his prowess as a supposed “quarterback whisperer.’’

So naturally he was asked for answers about why the Jets are ranked dead last in the NFL in total offense, why they’ve scored only one offensive touchdown in three games, how it was possible they finished with 105 yards of offense at New England and were 0-for-12 on third-down conversions.

All fair questions. But the answers come with asterisks, based on the rash of injuries the Jets have endured.

You know the deal. Sam Darnold, the franchise quarterback, has missed the past two games with mononucleosis. Starting receiver Quincy Enunwa was lost for the season in the opener with another neck injury. In all, eight players who were projected starters entering the season were not on the field against the Patriots.

With it looking likely Darnold could return for the next game, make no mistake: If the Jets’ offense continues to struggle the way it has the first three weeks, the questions to Gase will be more fair than they were a week ago.

As soon as Darnold returns, the pressure on Gase rises.

In the aftermath of the loss to the Patriots, there was a lot of talk from Gase and Jets players about getting things fixed during the bye week. This is a familiar lament from teams that are struggling entering their bye weeks, whenever it happens to fall in the season.

So, this week, with the players off until Monday and the coaches “self-scouting’’ and brainstorming, will be an interesting exercise to see how much a bye week reboot really can make a difference — or whether it makes a difference at all.

Gase was questioned by some critics for not conducting a practice or two during the bye week before giving his players a long weekend. I don’t agree with those criticisms. What were the Jets going to get out of practicing Tuesday and maybe Wednesday, particularly with Darnold still unable to play?

Gase conducting a couple of practices this week would seemingly have been more about optics than truly preparing for the next game, Oct. 6 against the Eagles.

“Really, the bye week, I haven’t done practice in a long time,’’ Gase said earlier in the week. “It’s usually been kind of a week to get in the meeting room, kind of go over … the first three weeks. We’ve got a lot of guys just coming through these injuries that we want to make sure that these guys get back to as close to 100% as possible so we’re ready to go for the Philly game.’’

Though Darnold still must pass some tests Monday, the Jets expect him to be healthy enough to return when they play the Eagles. Also expected back are linebackers C.J. Mosley and Jordan Jenkins, as well as defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, the Jets’ first-round draft pick.

This is when we’ll see exactly what Gase got fixed during the bye week. This is when we can more fairly judge the job he is doing.

Gase talked Monday about how important it is to “keep grinding on it.’’

“Things don’t always happen right away,’’ he said. “I know in this society, everybody wants everything to be perfect right away, but it doesn’t always work out that way. We’ve got to get some continuity. We’ve had three different [quarterbacks] running the huddle the last three weeks and had a lot of receivers in and out.

“So, we’ve got to be able to kind of get some continuity going together as a group of 11 and build from there. There’s no point in sitting here and beating each other up, pointing fingers. That’s not going to do anything. We’ve got to go back to work and we’ve got to get things fixed.’’

Source: Read Full Article