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The Gase Era: Five Reasons for Optimism

NFL: Detroit Lions at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

With no games left for Bold Predictions, I thought I’d try my hand at finding five positives to the recent announcement that Adam Gase will be the Jets coach in 2019. Considering the current environment, anything positive seems bold these days. In the past, I’ve been able to convince myself into drinking the green Kool-Aid, usually to the same result as my betters in the film Troll 2. For those of you unfamiliar with this true classic of a film, consuming the green Kool-Aid usually results in bleeding green for some time before eventually accepting fate and succumbing to misery. You also are likely to turn into a tree and be eaten by goblins with non-articulated faces unless you can ward them off with a bologna sandwich, but that logic doesn’t quite apply here. Or anywhere for that matter. Anyway, this is the hardest hire I’ve had to talk myself into in recent history. I can’t say I’ve ever been sold on a new coach the Jets have hired since Parcells, but I’ve usually been either on the fence or at least optimistic. This one is a tough sell. Usually coaches that are fired do not immediately get hired elsewhere and for good reason (See Ryan, Rex.) However, there should be reason for optimism concerning the future of the Jets.

1) Sam Darnold

No better reason to be optimistic about the Jets right now than this young man. Enough said.

2) Quarterbacks have had a lot of success with Gase’s involvement

If you haven’t had a look at Nania’s article on Gase’s history with quarterbacks, give it a read. Quarterbacks ranging from Jon Kitna to Peyton Manning all showed sudden and dramatic improvement upon the arrival of Gase. Nania covered it brilliantly, so I’ll leave most of it there and take a look at Tannehill specifically. While Tannehill has been mostly a mess working with Gase, he’s also always been a mess. To Gase’s credit, Tannehill’s numbers are much better under Gase as well. Now some of this is certainly due to Tannehill’s natural development after his rookie year. Nevertheless, the comparison would be as follows:

Pre-Gase Tannehill

6.9 yards per attempt, 61.9% completion, 3.8% TD, 2.4% INT, 85.2 rating

Post-Gase Tannehill

7.5 yards per attempt, 65.9% completion, 5.4% TD, 3.1% INT, 93.1 rating

During his time with Gase, Tannehill’s efficiency numbers improved in every category with the exception of INT rate, making his overall rating jump about 8 points. That would be about the difference between starting a league average quarterback and Brock Osweiler this year.

3) While unconfirmed, Gregg Williams appears set to be his DC

I have to say, this would be a hire I am fully in support of and believe could help balance the coaching staff. Not only is he a more experienced coach, but he has similarly seen defenses rise around him and collapse without him. Now the Browns defense has not been great under him the last two years, but the year before he signed on they were similarly hapless, ranking 31st in total defense and 30th in points allowed. The biggest knock on Williams that likely derailed his chances at becoming a head coach is the Bountygate scandal. I’m not going to get much into it because I wasn’t part of the investigation and I couldn’t tell you much more than was released, but I can speak to its effect on the Saints defense. In 2009, the Saints signed Williams and won the Superbowl with the help of 35 defensive takeaways, including a shocking pick-6 against the red hot Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl. The Saints ranked 20th in scoring defense that year (guess who was #1?) and ranked second in takeaways, improving from 26th in both categories the year before. They would improve to be 7th in scoring defense in 2010 before regressing to 20th in 2011, Williams’ final year. Without Williams they collapsed entirely, falling to 31st in 2012. All in all, he’s shown a lot statistically, but his schemes have also been shown to be quite innovative and aggressive, promoting turnovers and relying on skilled playmaking safeties. In short, a good fit for the Jets current personnel. To top it off, he took over a 2-5-1 team as head coach and led them to a 5-3 record. He has a lot of history behind him, a strong authoritarian hand, and a recent track record of success. I can’t speak to the negatives of the Bountygate scandal, but as a DC prospect, he’s as good as they come right now.

4) Cap Space

Now I’m not one to get super excited about building a team through free agency, but I can say that I haven’t really enjoyed watching the Jets since 2015. The team hasn’t just been bad, they’ve been incompetent on offense. With a new offensive head coach and $100 million in cap space, it’s likely that the Jets will target some serious offensive players in free agency this year, in a class that could very well include big names such as Le’Veon Bell, Randall Cobb, Mark Ingram, and Tyler Eifert. Now I certainly can’t say if any of these guys are slam dunks, but I can say that with Sam Darnold progressing and some money being thrown at some offensive weapons, it might finally be fun to watch the Jets, I mean play. I may not always agree with the long term decisions, but I can’t pretend that I won’t enjoy seeing a better product on the field. And there’s always the chance it works out.

5) Young Talent

I may have already mentioned Sam Darnold, but I haven’t mentioned some of the other young players with tantalizing potential. Leonard Williams is a good player who still has the potential to be great. Jamal Adams is a great player with the potential to be a game-wrecker. Avery Williamson isn’t elite, but he’s 26 and earned a nod as a Pro Bowl alternate. Guys like Quincy Enunwa, Chris Herndon, Brandon Shell, and Marcus Maye have all flashed enough to give you reason to believe they can be plus starters if they can keep it together. Guys like Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins may be able to carve out roles as well. The Jets have missed consistently in the draft over the last decade or so, but there do appear to be some valuable pieces in the muck with the potential to grow around Sam Darnold. Now you can certainly look on at the Chief’s offense in envy, but there is actually some young talent on this team to build around. The team may have been 10-6 in 2015, but the young players to be excited about on that team coming into that year were Muhammad Wilkerson, Calvin Pryor, Sheldon Richardson, and Leonard Williams. The only quality starter from that list remains on the list now.

It’s been a slow road to rebuilding and the Jets are still far from finished, but I have to admit there are now reasons to be optimistic about the future of the team. The Jets have a quarterback that honestly could pan out. They have a Pro Bowl leader on the back end of the defense. They have cap space, high draft picks, and a scattering of young players with some potential. The retention of Mike Maccagnan and the hiring of Adam Gase have caused a lot of negativity around here (admittedly, I can see why), but it’s good to remember there are reasons to be excited about the direction of the team.