Why Losing is Winning in New York

How is Adam Gase still employed?

Well, the reasoning makes sense… Kind of.

While Joe Douglas makes headline-worthy facial expressions from his suite at Jets games, he’s wishing he had the chance to get ahead of this trainwreck earlier. The reality is, he never had that chance. The job security of Adam Gase is solely up to Jets co-owner Christopher Johnson and only Christopher Johnson. Joe Douglas does not have the power to fire the coach that helped get him his job as general manager of the Jets. So the question lingers, why won’t Johnson fire Gase? As Adam Gase and the Jets approach their Sunday off in a bye week, they currently sit in last place in league standings at 0-9 with sole possession of the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The worst team in the league will be rewarded with the generational-talent quarterback Trevor Lawrence out of Clemson, who some are calling the best prospect to come out of school since Andrew Luck at Stanford. The runner-up will get Ohio State’s Justin Fields, who has sky-rocketed up draft boards with his impressive 2020 campaign.

The Jets ownership and management did an in-house evaluation this past offseason and expected to be competing for the extra wildcard spot that was added to the 2020 NFL Playoff schedule. Obviously, this is not the case. Not only are they not competing for the playoffs, the Jets are staring down the barrel of a winless season. The higher-ups are appalled at the production that the team has shown week-in and week-out and have been taken back at how horribly their evaluation has developed. While they may have known heading into the season that Adam Gase wasn’t going to be the guy to save a team, they did not expect him to be historically bad and drag the whole team down with him – especially Sam Darnold, who is now showing new signs of regression.

While the Jets had high hopes for the twenty-year-old signal-caller coming out of USC back in 2018, the likely permanent mental scars of a poorly-run team are showing very often. The anxious pocket presence, locking on to one target rather than scanning the rest of the field, and occasional rookie-mistake throws to the opposing team that he continues to make in his third year are not his fault. This is the fault of the Jets organization and their inability to build around him throughout his developmental window. But, regardless of who is to blame, Darnold has reached this point. His developmental window is being slammed shut right before our eyes. The risk of hoping the new supporting cast brought in this upcoming offseason turns Sam Darnold’s career around is not worth passing on a generational talent and potentially setting the franchise back years. Hypothetically, if Sam Darnold were to remain a Jet in 2021, he could be revived, he can regress further, or he could put up similar numbers that will bring up the question of whether or not the Jets should bring him back in hopes of him making a jump the following year. Regardless, this will need to be done on a new contract that may be over Joe Douglas’ budget given his production.

While Darnold’s regression could be reversible, an answer comes with the risk of setting a franchise back years. Landing a top pick and drafting either Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields not only gives the Jets the opportunity to reset on a rookie contract, but it gives the team the best possible chance to land a top-tier head coaching candidate. Many around the league have speculated that agents representing possible head coaching candidates may steer their clients away from New York if it means leading a team headlined by ex-regime players. Rather, many believe that securing the top pick to be used on a shiny new signal-caller will have the opposite effect and attract top-tier candidates. The opportunity to hit the ground running with a rookie quarterback is the golden ticket to a head coach, let alone doing so with a generational-talent. They are getting a quarterback who is approaching the beginning of his developmental window rather than the end. Not to mention Lawrence and Fields both have higher ceilings and hold the potential to be better than Darnold was ever projected to be. Either of the two options would make Joe Douglas smile ear-to-ear, and Jets fans should react just the same.

Jets fans – all football fans, really – are calling for Adam Gase to be fired. While that may seem like the easy answer, the Jets may prefer to clean house with the coaching staff and fire everyone at once. That cannot be done in-season. The Jets will keep Adam Gase and his staff to assure the team continues to lose and hopefully retain possession of the first overall pick – or don’t drop past the second overall pick.

Jack Stollow
New York Jets fan/blogger. @jetlifenews on Instagram and Twitter.

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