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Thursday, October 22, 2020

New York Jets Coach Adam Gase Says He Would Consider Temporarily Handing Off Play-Calling Duties

Adam Gase was asked after his team’s fifth straight loss what might give New York Jets’ fans hope. 

“If you were there day in and day out,” Gase told reporters in a post-game video news conference, “and saw how those guys (players) practiced last week, you wouldn’t know what our record was.”

Actually, that answer likely only made them angrier.  

That kind of a statement is the last thing fans want to hear, because the NFL doesn’t award trophies for how your team practices, only for how it plays. 

The league also doesn’t keep practice statistics, but its game numbers show that New York’s offense ranks last in the league heading into the Los Angeles Chargers-New Orleans game Monday night. Poor execution and subpar talent have been problems, but Gase’s play-calling also has come under scrutiny at times. 

That’s why I asked him on a conference call Monday whether he would consider, even for a game or two, giving up those duties. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, Gase’s trusted lieutenant, and running backs coach Jim Bob Cooter both have past experience as NFL play-callers. 

Gase said, “For the last four years, I’ve toyed with the idea every once in a while. I don’t think I’m ever opposed to trying something to change things up. I’d say everything’s on the table at this point.” 

“I’m considering everything,” Gase said to a later follow-up question. “Whatever turns things in the right direction, I’ll be all for it.” 

Gase said he has always called the plays throughout his four-plus years as a head coach, except perhaps at times during some preseason games.

The winless Jets visit Miami (2-3) on Sunday in a schedule change necessitated by coronavirus. They originally were supposed to play the Los Angeles Chargers.  

Two sequences in Sunday’s loss to Arizona showcased Gase’s problematic play-calling. 

With the Jets facing third-and-1 at the Cardinals’ 13 with 9:49 left in the second quarter, Gase called for a fullback dive. The only problem was the Jets, like most teams in today’s NFL, do not have a true fullback on the roster. Instead, he used tight end Trevon Wesco, mostly utilized as a blocker. The offensive line, which had a rough day for the most part, actually opened a crease large enough for an easy first down. 

But Wesco, who did convert a similar situation in his lone previous carry last season as a rookie, failed to see it and instead plowed into the rear end of left tackle George Fant, effectively stopping his own momentum. Wesco didn’t get the first down and neither did running back Le’Veon Bell on fourth down. 

Another bad sequence for Gase came in the fourth period. After wide receiver Braxton Berrios took an end-around 13 yards for a first down at the Arizona 49, Gase came right back with another trick play, a planned pass by wide receiver Jeff Smith, who played some quarterback at Boston College. 

But Arizona was ready and Budda Baker dropped Smith for a 16-yard loss, effectively ending the threat.   

Because it seems acting owner Christopher Johnson seems entrenched in his position of not making a change, the very least Gase could do to shake things up is to hand off the playcalling, at least for a little while. This would give him a chance to take a more macro approach on gameday. Instead of having his head buried in his playsheet, he could take a more active role in game management for both offense and defense. 

Certainly defensive coordinator Gregg Williams could use some oversight, such as when Gase pulled safety Jamal Adams from the Cleveland game last season because he had picked up two 15-yard penalties and Gase thought he was in danger of being ejected. Williams’ personnel usage is becoming stranger and stranger. 

On Sunday, Williams chose to use Lamar Jackson (no, not that Lamar Jackson) as the starting cornerback in place of injured Bless Austin rather than Quincy Wilson, acquired from Indianapolis in the spring for a sixth-round draft pick. No, this is not to say that Wilson, recently recovered from a concussion, is the second coming of Jets legend Darrelle Revis. But he started the second game of the season before leaving that game with the aforementioned injury, and would’ve seemed to be a more worthy adversary for superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins than the young Jackson, an undrafted free agent. 

The results were predictable. Despite some decent coverage at times by Jackson, Hopkins toyed with him, finishing with seven receptions for 131 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown. Williams has made numerous head-scratching decisions such as this.   

He could use a head coach scrutinizing him more closely on game day. Gase could do that, and maybe the offense also would benefit from a fresh perspective. It’s worth a try at 0-5.

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