Jets’ Adam Gase favored to be first NFL coach fired this season

Adam Gase
Adam Gase. –Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

After the first week of the NFL season, New York Jets Coach Adam Gase has managed to move into first place. Unfortunately for him, it’s not in the AFC East standings but in the betting odds on the first NFL head coach to be fired.

Or, as gambling website Bovada lists it in a semantic device that accounts for coaches possibly being allowed to step down from their jobs to save face, Gase now stands atop the field in the category of “First coach to permanently leave his post.”

On the website, Gase was given +300 odds, meaning that a $100 bet would pay out a $300 profit. Just behind him is the Detroit Lions’ Matt Patricia at +350, with the Atlanta Falcons’ Dan Quinn (+600) and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Doug Marrone a little further back (+750). Bill O’Brien of the Houston Texans comes next, at +1100, before a sharp drop to a group headed by the Chicago Bears’ Matt Nagy and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Anthony Lynn, both at +2500.

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SportsLine views the situation in a similar light, offering the same odds on the top four apart from having Quinn listed at +500. That represented a change from SportsLine’s odds heading into the NFL’s opening weekend, when it viewed Patricia as the most likely to go, followed by, in order, Marrone, Quinn and Gase.

However, that was before Gase’s Jets looked very much like the worst team in the NFL while suffering a 27-17 loss at Buffalo that was not as close as the final score suggested. The Bills jumped out to a 21-0 lead and had an 18-point edge at halftime because quarterback Josh Allen twice fumbled the ball away inside Jets territory. Meanwhile, Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, taken third overall in the 2018 draft while Allen went seventh, looked erratic and ill-prepared as New York failed to get its second first down until less than two minutes remained in the first half.

“Early, we couldn’t get into a rhythm,” Gase said after the game. “I was trying to find the right call to get [Darnold] going a little bit. . . . I’ve just got to get him more in a rhythm early in the game.”

The early struggles were a departure from 2019, when the Jets displayed a penchant for scoring on their opening drives. The problem that season was that Darnold and the offense frequently got bogged down after that, leading to questions about whether Gase was not planning enough beyond an initial script and whether opposing coaches were proving much more adept at in-game adjustments.

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The end result was that the 2019 Jets, after Gase was brought in with a reputation as a quarterback guru and overall offensive whiz, wound up with the NFL’s worst attack in terms of yards gained. The team also finished 31st out of 32 teams in points scored.

“I mean, it was absolutely atrocious,” Gase, who coached the Miami Dolphins for three seasons before getting fired and landing in New York, acknowledged last week of the Jets’ offense in his first year. “Everything last year, just throw all that out. All the stats were terrible.”

Last year’s Jets did manage to rally for a 7-9 record after a 1-7 start during which Darnold missed several games with mononucleosis. Gase could point to that unusual malady and his 6-2 closing stretch as causes for some optimism this season, along with an improved offensive line.

Then came Sunday’s debacle, which reignited his hot seat. At the same time, Marrone’s Jaguars were springing an upset of the Indianapolis Colts, Patricia’s Lions lost in a heartbreaker and Quinn’s Falcons at least put up something resembling a fight.

The fact that Detroit blew a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead before Lions running back D’Andre Swift let a would-be game-winning touchdown clang off his hands would not appear to help Patricia’s cause much, of course. And the goodwill generated by the successes that Quinn and Marrone had with their respective squads a few years ago has all but vanished amid losing campaigns over the past two seasons.

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Gase, though, can scarcely point to so much as one season of great success as a head coach. In his first year in Miami, the 2016 Dolphins went 10-6, but they were immediately trounced in the playoffs and skidded to records of 6-10 and 7-9 after that. Add in his mark of 7-10 thus far with the Jets, and Gase has a record of 30-35 overall and 20-29 since 2017.

Arguably even more damning for Gase, who was an offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears before getting his first head coaching job in Miami, have been the performances of his offenses. Starting with his one year in Chicago, his teams’ ranks in terms of yards gained have gone as follows: 21st, 24th, 25th, 31st, 32nd, 31st.

In two seasons in Denver, his offenses ranked first and then second among NFL teams, but as many have pointed out, his quarterback at that time was Peyton Manning. Without one of the league’s all-time greats running his offense, Gase has been utterly unable to produce anything close to the same effectiveness.

Gase’s main quarterback while in Miami was an oft-injured Ryan Tannehill, and while Darnold was a highly regarded talent coming out of USC, the Jets’ general managers saddled him and his coach him with one of the league’s poorest supporting casts. On the other hand, former Pittsburgh Steelers star Le’Veon Bell was paid handsomely last year to significantly upgrade the team’s running back position, but he proved a free agent bust as Gase was criticized for not adjusting his schemes to suit Bell’s skill set.

Now Bell is out for the next three weeks, after Gase admitted Sundaythat he let the veteran back continue to play in Buffalo after sustaining a first-half leg injury. Meanwhile, Tannehill continued in Week 1 the success he enjoyed in his first season in Tennessee, and other players who notably thrived last year after moving on from the coach included Miami’s DeVante Parker, Kansas City’s Damien Williams and Arizona’s Kenyan Drake.

The most worrisome development on Sunday was Darnold’s lack of apparent development.

ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, a noted fan of the Jets, castigated Gase Monday while declaring that Darnold is “regressing horribly” and actually “getting worse” under the coach.

“Adam Gase is the problem with the Jets, they should have fired him last year,” Greenberg said. “It is ridiculous that we are now wasting another season with this guy, who anyone who has ever watched football can see cannot coach this team.”

Greenberg also claimed that Jets players “hate” Gase, adding to a narrative that followed the coach out of Miami and was bolstered by former Jets safety Jamal Adams before he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks. If the Jets do not improve in a hurry – a task made more difficult by one of the NFL’s toughest schedules, including a date this week with the San Francisco 49ers – it’s conceivable that Gase does not survive the season.

Last year, two NFL coaches were fired before the season ended: Washington’s Jay Gruden, who was axed after a 0-5 start, and Carolina’s Ron Rivera, who ended up replacing Gruden. They each had spent many more years with their respective teams than Gase has with the Jets, but according to Vegas, Gase is well on his way to wearing out his welcome in New York even more quickly than he did in Miami.

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