A horrible 2020 season ended for the New York Jets on Sunday with a 28-14 loss at the hands of the Patriots. However, there was also a light in the darkness of the team’s 14th loss in 16 regular-season games. Getting Adam Gase fired finally came to fruition, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
How We Got Here
The former Miami Dolphins head coach signed with the Jets in the 2019 offseason. In 2016, he managed to earn a playoff berth with the Dolphins but has since never lived up to the expectations since. Last winter, he saved his job by winning six of his last eight games to climb to a 7-9 record. Despite the Jets have a lot of shortcomings on their roster, there was a serious sense of positivity both entering the offseason and after the draft. There was perhaps an illusion at that time that the Jets were capable of fighting for a postseason spot, but most saw the season ending with the headline “Adam Gase fired”.
This past 2020 NFL season posed no illusions. It was as ugly as it gets en route to a 2-14 record. It marked the weakest on-field performance by Gang Green since the franchise-worst 1-15 1996 season. By virtue of their upset victories over the LA Rams and Cleveland Browns, the Jets got away from the reputation of the worst team in NFL history. Moreover, they got rid of what could have been a burden in the first overall pick. Instead, the Jets are set to pick second overall – Joe Douglas could still make many mistakes here. However, the temptation to go down the wrong path is much smaller.
Nevertheless, 2-14 is a record that should provoke changes for any NFL club. Despite lacking depth at many positions, Gase was at the center of attention of a team that underperformed. Adam Gase being fired firing, alongside that of Gregg Williams, marks a new, fresh start that could transpire in many different ways.
Adam Gase Fired: What Went Wrong?
Adam Gase had very little to work with heading into the 2020 NFL season. Still, he made sure he not only didn’t use his set of players efficiently but also completely underperformed. Both his playcalling and his play selection distribution were beyond awful. His ability as a play-caller got him the job and it is ironic that play calling probably got Adam Gase fired, as well.
For instance, the Jets had by far the least productive passing offense in the league. New York finished second in fewest yards per game through the air with 174.8. They were only 31st because the Ravens throw the ball less than any other team in the NFL.
The overall lack of productivity and inefficiency (58.9% completion percentage) would usually call for the use of the ground game more often. For the better part of the campaign, the running game was fairly solid. As of Week 12, the unit was averaging 4.4 yards per carry. That is despite Frank Gore‘s struggles and the inability to find a reliable running back.
Even though their 4.1 figure that matters at the end of the season might be near the bottom of the league, it is still much more stable than the passing group. That unit averaged 5.2 yards per pass attempt, which is not only unimpressive but also 31st in the NFL.
At the end of the season, the play selection is 55:45 in favor of the pass. Given the lack of productivity and efficiency/accuracy, not giving more opportunities to the run really seems like the most crucial “crime” committed by Adam Gase during his last season as a head coach for the Jets.
Here is a detailed explanation of how shifting some of the focus to the run would have fixed the problem, and from our article on the Gregg Williams firing (written after Week 12 loss vs Raiders):
Jets quarterbacks, whether it is Darnold or Joe Flacco, complete just 57.6 percent of their throws. By replacing unproductive incompletions with reasonable gains on the ground, both the pass and the offense overall could experience a statistical renaissance.
The play selection ratio is 56:44, quite heavy for an NFL team, so this would not even be a risk. Rather it would have been a long-awaited move. Adam Gase didn’t adapt to or accurately utilize his offense. Therefore, the 0-12 record is a good reflection on where the Jets stand, and no one should be surprised to see Adam Gase fired.
Adam Gase Fired: Unfulfilled Potential?
As already mentioned, Gase may have been very underwhelming. However, he didn’t have much talent in his team either. Yet, it is very apparent that, even with less to work with, Gase wasted some solid components of the Jets game that set the bar very high for the team overall.
Of course, the only bright spot for the club this past year was their defense against the run. The unit, which allowed just four yards per rush, ranked seventh in the NFL after it placed third a campaign ago. They managed to do that despite trading Steve McLendon to the Buccaneers mid-season.
The group should be as good as it was in 2020, again next year. Nevertheless, Gase’s woes and Joe Douglas’s bad signings in the secondary didn’t do justice to a remarkable two-year span for the front line.
Furthermore, Darnold might have also taken a step back under Gase. While Darnold had less to work with than ever, he also wasn’t particularly successful in running his offense. The three-year quarterback out of USC, who posted his worst passer rating and a completion percentage sub-60.0%, also deserves some of the blame.
Darnold himself showed a lot of vulnerabilities this past campaign. However, his situation wasn’t well handled by Gase in any aspect. The biggest problem was that he was forced to throw the ball too much for the better part of the season, hence the inefficiency. All of this would have been much less significant had Gase shifted some of the workload to the running game. Instead, Darnold looked a lot worse than during his first two seasons in the professional game.
Adam Gase Fired: Potential Replacements
Eberflus has spent the past three years as Indianapolis‘s defensive coordinator. Throughout his whole stint at the position, the defense was at least solid. However, in 2020, the unit hit its peak, making a name as one of the best in the league. The Colts conceded 332.1 yards per game, the eighth-best in the league. Furthermore, the numbers were similar in 2018 while a down year in 2019 saw the unit slip to the middle of the pack.
This season, Smith has been in charge of the second-best offense in the league in terms of total yards. That marks an improvement from 12th a year ago in his debut campaign at the job.
Eric Bienemy, Chiefs Offensive Coordinator: According to Schefter, New York has also sent an interview request for Bienemy. During his three years as an OC in Kansas City, the Chiefs have finished first in yards twice. He has also received praise for his work and development of Patrick Mahomes, which will be important with Darnold.
Bienemy has been one of the hottest names on the coaching market for two years now so the demand could be very high. Nonetheless, it will be worth it given the accomplishments of the Chiefs offense under Bienemy.