As the old saying goes, “What comes easy won’t last and what lasts won’t come easy.” For Jets fans though, haven’t they waited long enough?
Last Sunday, the New York Jets traveled to Miami to face the AFC East rival Dolphins. This occasion came with heightened sensitivity as Gang Green’s head coach Adam Gase would return “home” to lead his new team against his former team. While Miami entered the weekend winless, it would not remain as such for long.
After being handed their seventh loss of the season, Jets fans were quick to show their frustration with the direction of their franchise. As players and coaches headed for the tunnel, fans gathered around and chanted for the firing of their year-one head coach.
Do the fans have a point? Or, is it simply too soon to call for Gase’s head?
Former general manager Mike Maccagnan, who has since been replaced by Joe Douglas, was the one who hired Gase as the head coach of the Jets. His justification for doing so was the potential Gase supposedly possessed to unlock quarterback Sam Darnold in a capacity that other suitors were unable to. Maccagnan added that his new head coach was a brilliant offensive mind, backed by the likes of Peyton Manning, that could usher in a new era of football in New York.
Since his hiring the Jets are dead last, or next to it, in almost every offensive category in the NFL. Darnold is 29th in the league with a total QBR of 35.1, has thrown six touchdowns to nine interceptions and was infamously caught saying that he “saw ghosts” against the Patriots in referencing the difficulty of reading NFL defenses.
Darnold missed three weeks of season with mono. Could that contribute to a shaky start to remodeling the culture of the Jets? It certainly could, but this is far from a shaky start. In fact, this season has become a slippery slope that will turn into a full-on catastrophe if the franchise does not make a change.
It seems simple to argue that Douglas should fire Gase and bring in another coach. However, the bigger picture indicates a catch-22 for the franchise.
Darnold has been priority No. 1 for the Jets since they drafted him to be their franchise signal caller. His progression into a formidable starter is essentially how Gase got the job in the first place. It is only his second year in the league, which is the same number of offenses he’s needed to learn. Can Douglas justify making Darnold learn a third and this soon?
No matter the lens you view it, New York’s 1-7 start to the 2019 season is far from advertised. Star running back Le’Veon Bell took to social media, pleading for Jets’ fans to be patient with the team. The problem is that patience is what will eventually catch up with New York.
The blueprint to success in the NFL is maximizing a team’s potential by utilizing a quarterback on a rookie contract. The Philadelphia Eagles won a Super Bowl this way and the Rams reached one as well. By having a quarterback at a discount, a franchise can bolster their roster in numerous other places of value.
That means the Jets have two more years, three with his fifth-year option, to capitalize on the opportunity they have with Darnold’s contract. While New York may want to take a slow approach to the development of their franchise quarterback, that same patience could be what keeps them from ever finding success.
Anthony Talarico can be reached at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter @ant_tal.