EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:
1. Miami Twice? Adam Gase doesn’t show emotion in public, but he gets fired up behind closed doors. Which of the eight defeats made him the angriest? One veteran player said it was the Week 9 loss to the previously winless Miami Dolphins. Why?
“Because he just came from Miami and he got beat,” the player said.
Which brings us to Sunday — the rematch at MetLife Stadium (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
Gase, facing the team he coached from 2016 to 2018, doesn’t want to be on the wrong side of history for the second week in a row. If he loses again to Miami, he’ll be the first coach in NFL history to go 0-2 in a season against a team he coached the previous year, according to research by Elias Sports Bureau.
A week ago, Gase became the first coach in history to have two losses in a single season against teams that entered 0-7 or worse — the 0-11 Cincinnati Bengals and the 0-7 Dolphins.
The Jets (4-8) haven’t struggled this much under a first-year coach since Rich Kotite (3-13 in 1995), and you never want to be mentioned in the same sentence as Kotite.
Gase received a public vote of confidence from Jets CEO Christopher Johnson, so he will be back in 2020 unless Johnson flips. While he might not be coaching for his job, per se, Gase can help his popularity (what’s left of it) by keeping the Jets competitive in the final quarter of the season. It won’t be easy, with games against the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills (combined record: 26-10), but the alarming trend of blowout losses has to stop.
The Jets have lost six games by 14 or more points, tied with the Dolphins and New York Giants for the most in the league. Gase has been undermined by injuries and, to be fair, he suffered three blowout losses with Luke Falk at quarterback. But, sorry, you can’t blame injuries for the Cincinnati and Miami losses.
Gase’s career record is 27-33, with 23 of the defeats by 14 or more points — a disproportionate amount of bad. This points to a lack of consistency — good one week, lousy the next. There was bound to be some turbulence this season, because it’s a transition year for the entire organization — new coaching staff, new front office — so Gase gets a pass in that respect.
But there’s no excuse for another poor performance against the Dolphins. None.
2. Poised for payback? The “revenge” drums don’t sound as loud when 4-8 and 3-9 teams are facing each other, but that didn’t stop linebacker Jordan Jenkins from bringing that up in an interview with ESPN.
Recalling the 26-18 loss to Miami, Jenkins said, “Some of their guys sort of laughed, and they were cutting up a little bit [after the game]. Some of us haven’t forgotten that. It’s a revenge game. You have to call it like it is. … It’s a get-back game. You got the first lick, now we have to get the second lick.”
Jenkins declined to identify which Miami player (or players) were laughing at the Jets. A lot of people were laughing at the Jets that day.
3. Highway (Jersey Turnpike) robbery: The Leonard Williams trade is getting better for the Jets by the week. The third-round draft choice they received from the Giants currently is the second pick in the round, No. 66 overall. That’s a nice take for the Jets, who had no intention of re-signing him before he became a free agent in March. The Jets also get a 2021 fifth-round pick, which jumps to the fourth round if he re-signs with the Giants before free agency.
Oh, by the way, Williams still is looking for his first sack of the season.
Despite Sam Darnold’s tough game vs. the Bengals, Matthew Berry and Field Yates still have the Jets QB as roughly a top 14-15 play in Week 14.
4. Feet first: Quarterback Sam Darnold has made modest improvements in every major statistical category from his rookie season, but one area where he needs work is his decision-making on whether to throw or run. Instead of trying to make a high-risk, high-reward throw under pressure, he must learn to pull it down and take a few safe yards by running. That’s what the coaches are preaching to him. That said, Darnold has played well over the past four games. His Total QBR in that span is 58.1, which ranks 12th in the league.
5. Jets are Bless-ed: To me, the most intriguing player on the team is rookie cornerback Blessuan Austin, who came out of injury limbo a month ago and has played well in four games. Is he just a hold-the-fort player or can the Jets count on him to play a major role next season? He hasn’t faced any of the top passing attacks, so it’s a jury-still-out situation. Interestingly, Austin hasn’t been tested that much — only 21 targets as the closest defender, per NFL Next Gen Stats data.
“I was expecting teams to come at me a little bit more,” he said. “My mindset actually is, I hope they come at me, so I can make a play and help the team out.”
Austin is a player to watch. So far, so good: Only 10 completions for 89 yards, no touchdowns and a 59.4 passer rating allowed.
6. Whatever happened to …: One trade that hasn’t worked out is the Nate Hairston deal. The Jets sent a 2020 sixth-round pick to the Indianapolis Colts, thinking the veteran corner would address the major need. After a nightmarish game against the Giants, Hairston spent the past three games serving time in the Gregg Williams prison; he was a healthy scratch in each game. With the secondary ravaged by injuries, Hairston will get a “Get-out-of-jail-free” card on Sunday. He figures to have a prominent role against the Dolphins.
7. Did you know? The Jets have scored on their opening drive in each of their past six games, matching a franchise record from 2008. That year, some guy named Favre was the quarterback.
8. Robby bucks: Wide receiver Robby Anderson doesn’t believe his subpar stats will hurt him at the bargaining table. What kind of contract can he expect? His four-year numbers compare favorably with those of Tyrell Williams, who signed a four-year, $44.4 million deal with the Oakland Raiders last March. (It includes only $10 million guaranteed at signing.) Anderson probably will be about $11 million per year, although I’m not sure he’ll get it from the Jets.
9. On the brink: The Jets will be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss or if the Steelers and Tennessee Titans both win. If it happens this week, it would be the first time they are eliminated Week 14 or earlier in back-to-back seasons since 1995-1996, per NFL tiebreaking guru Joe Ferreira.
10. Texas tampering: The biggest storyline in the offseason will be the future of safety Jamal Adams, who will be the subject of trade rumors. He will be linked to the Dallas Cowboys because … well, you know the story. The teams discussed Adams at the trading deadline, Adams got mad, gave general manager Joe Douglas the silent treatment and it became a big story.
Which had to make Jerry Jones happy, said Boomer Esiason, the former NFL quarterback-turned-analyst. Esiason, speaking on this week’s Flight Deck podcast, accused the Cowboys’ owner and GM of trying to sabotage the Jets’ relationship with the star safety.
“Jerry Jones recruits players who are under contract to other teams by leaking potential trades to the media, and that’s wrong,” he said. “He did it with Earl Thomas in Seattle, and he did it with Jamal Adams and the Jets. He put the Seattle Seahawks in a bad spot, and he put the Jets in a bad spot. The players react because they get emotional and they don’t get it. They don’t understand it, and social media is all over them.
“This is Jerry, as he says in his own words, dropping chum in the water. … That chum is really impacting negatively the fan base and the player and, of course, the front office. … Jerry Jones and his band of merry men down in Dallas do it all the time, which is a disgrace for the NFL.”
Strong stuff from Esiason, who makes some good points. Past Jets regimes allowed themselves to be swayed by outside noise (or perceived noise) when making big personnel decisions. For their sake, they better hope Douglas has a stronger spine than some of his predecessors.