By HCR Staff | Jan. 29, 2020
The New York Jets finished the 2019 season strongly, and like the Miami Dolphins, they’ll be far more competitive in 2020, making the AFC East a fun division to anticipate.
The Jets started 2019 with a rash of bad luck, none more worse than quarterback Sam Darnold’s mononucleosis. That set Darnold behind in his development with head coach Adam Gase, and the Jets simply couldn’t recover.
All the bad luck led to a 1-7 start, but with nothing to lose, the Jets could play a bit more freely.
Led by a stout run defense and an experienced defensive coordinator in Gregg Williams, the Jets started to regain some swagger in the second half of the season. Darnold and the offense began to gel, and the Jets finished the back half of the schedule 6-2.
GM Joe Douglas gets an entire offseason to help his squad; the mechanics of his hiring last year hampered his schedule, so it’s not fair to judge him on that. Douglas is well thought of around the league and among player agents, so we are confident he is going to bring some much needed discipline to the front office operation.
The biggest improvement the Jets can make is for Gase to mature. That’s right…what the Jets need is greater maturity from their head coach.
Gase comes off as unnecessarily prickly, and almost intentionally odd. We don’t think any of this intended, however–we see much of his public persona as simply a consequence of a guy who spends a tremendous amount of time with tunnel vision on his football team. In other words, he’s just trying to do his job. It’s very likely that behind the scenes, Gase isn’t much different than any other head coach.
However, a head coach also is a face of the franchise. His public behavior and demeanor will be scrutinized, and if it’s unnecessarily distracting, others in the organization often have to answer for it, including his QB and other team leaders.
For example, there was much speculation after the Jets’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens in December that Gase and Darnold were on the outs due to a heated sideline exchange caught on video. Darnold and Gase had to address it, and while that doesn’t affect the X’s and O’s, every second wasted during the week on something like this begins to add up.
The AFC East is tighter than it’s been in a while, and with a few breaks, the Jets can contend. They now have an identity on defense, and a bright, ascending QB.