The Adam Gase and Sam Darnold era in New York may be in its final chapter.
Darnold, the former No. 3 overall pick who arrived in New York with high expectations, opened his third season with a lackluster outing against the rival Buffalo Bills.
Gase, the oft-criticized and divisive head coach, once again raised questions about why, exactly, he has one of the league’s 32 head coaching positions.
Week 1 isn’t always indicative of how a season will turn out. But their respective performances proved why neither could have a future with the New York Jets when this season ends.
Sam Darnold struggled in the Jets’ Week 1 opener
Statistically, Sam Darnold made impressive strides in his second NFL season.
Darnold completed 61.9% of his passes last year for 3,024 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in 13 starts. All marked improvements from Darnold’s rookie campaign in 2018.
Darnold led three game-winning drives and ended the year with a 7-6 record. Unfortunately for him, the Jets lost the three games he missed with an illness.
Although Darnold didn’t take the massive second-year jump that the likes of Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes have done in recent years, he still showed enough — especially in an offense lacking weapons — to raise expectations for his third season.
Maybe those expectations should be placed on ice for a bit. Darnold looked lost in the Jets’ 27-17 loss to the Bills.
Darnold completed 21 of his 35 passes for 215 yards, a touchdown, and a bad interception near the end of the first half. The passing yards are inflated because Jamison Crowder had a 69-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter.
Adam Gase has drawn criticism for years
For someone who supposedly is a quarterback guru, Adam Gase hasn’t really looked the part as a head coach.
Gase made the playoffs with Miami in 2016 but has been a divisive and ineffective coach since then. Last year, New York’s 7-9 record was a misleading one that betrayed how poor the Jets looked on a weekly basis.
Things didn’t start so well to start Gase’s second season. Sam Darnold struggled at quarterback and the offense didn’t take advantage of Josh Allen’s two fumbles.
Gase even admitted he was “mad at myself” for not removing starting running back Le’Veon Bell, who aggravated a hamstring injury, at the time when Bell hurt himself in the first half.
Gase removed Bell in the third quarter. Frank Gore could start in Bell’s place against the 49ers next week.
Gase dropped to 30-36 as a head coach. According to CBS Sports, 28 of those 36 losses have been by double digits.
Sam Darnold and Adam Gase aren’t long for the Jets
The New York Jets haven’t made the postseason since 2010. If Week 1 is any indication, neither Sam Darnold nor Adam Gase will participate in the playoffs any time soon.
According to the New York Post, Darnold took responsibility for how poorly the Jets’ offense played.
“I put that on my shoulders, I missed way too many throws today. I just flat-out missed guys, and that’s on me. And so, I gotta be better, and we gotta execute better, it’s as simple as that.”
Darnold isn’t in bust territory just yet, but the Jets will have to make an intriguing decision on his fifth-year option next spring. Although Darnold has looked great at times, he still makes rookie decisions throwing into coverage.
That decision becomes even tougher if Darnold has another average individual season and the Jets fire Gase. Darnold would be on his fourth head coach in five years, dating back to his final season at Southern Cal in 2017.
Every game in the NFL should be considered a “must-win” at this point in the season. Darnold and Gase need to treat the next 15 games as “must-dominate” if they hope to remain in the Jets’ long-term plans.