Per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the New York Jets will keep Brant Boyer as their special teams coordinator under head coach Robert Saleh. Boyer, 49, is set to survive the purgings of both Todd Bowles and Adam Gase’s staffs.
The Arizona alum entered coaching in 2012, nearly a decade after his playing career ended. Boyer was a sixth-round choice of the Miami Dolphins in 1994 and played 10 seasons, a majority with Jacksonville (1995-2000). He previously served as a special teams assistant in Indianapolis (2012-15).
Under Boyer’s watch, the Jets sent two specialists to the Pro Bowl during the 2018 season (kicker Jason Myers and returner Andre Roberts). Since Roberts’ departure for Buffalo, Boyer has placed returners in the top 10 in average runback. Braxton Berrios was second in average punt return in 2019 (11.4) while midseason acquisition Corey Ballentine was seventh in kicks this past season (24.0). Notably, defensive lineman Henry Anderson also blocked three kicks over three straight games during the 2018 campaign.
“He understands and trusts us to get ready for Sunday,” Myers said of Boyer during the 2018 season. “In our room, he has a lot of trust for us. It puts you in a good mindset to go out there and just kick the way you want to kick on Sundays.”
“He expects the best out of us every day. He demands a lot, and he cares about each as people as well, off the field,” longer snapper Thomas Hennessy added in that same timeframe. “To have a coach like that, who wants excellence on the field and cares about you as a person off the field, makes you want to play that much for the coach.”
Saleh has continued to fill out the assistants on his staff since his hiring on January 14. During his opening statements last week, Saleh confirmed that fellow former San Francisco compatriot Mike LaFleur would serve as the team’s offensive coordinator while ex-Atlanta assistant Jeff Ulbrich would take over the defense. Ulbrich’s duties will include defensive playcalling.
With Robert Saleh’s New York Jets contract officially signed, his staff reportedly continues to grow.
Former receivers Miles Austin and Taylor Embree are coming to the metropolitan area, according to Peter Schrager of NFL Network (Schrager has also called Jets preseason games in recent summers). Austin will take over the receivers’ coach spot, while Embree will take over as the running backs coach.
Austin, 36, would return to New Jersey after a 10-year career primarily spent with the Dallas Cowboys. A native of Summit and alum of Garfield High School and Monmouth University, Austin led the NFL in receiving yardage during his breakout season in 2009, earning 1,320 en route to Dallas’ NFC East title. His 250 receiving yards in a win over Kansas City from that season still stands as a Cowboys record. Following his eight seasons in Dallas, which included a pair of Pro Bowl appearances (2009-10), Austin played two final seasons with Cleveland and Philadelphia. Injuries marred the final parts of his career, as Austin managed to play a full 16-game season only once after his final five campaigns.
Following his playing career, Austin rejoined the Cowboys, this time working in their scouting department. He would later spend a year alongside Saleh in 2019 as an offensive quality control coach with San Franciso, joining him in Super Bowl LIV. Austin left the team prior to the 2020 season. In the interim, Austin went back to Monmouth and earned his degree in political science. He previously departed Long Branch as the program’s all-time leader in receiving yards and was the first former Hawk to appear in a regular season NFL game.
Embree, 32, likewise worked with Saleh during his years with the 49ers, spending three seasons as an offensive quality control coach. He was likewise part of the 49ers group that went to the most recent Super Bowl, ironically falling to the Kansas City Chiefs, with whom he worked as a defensive assistant. More recently, Embree served as the tight ends coach at Colorado University under Karl Dorrell, his former head coach at UCLA. The Buffaloes went 4-1 in a shortened season and advanced to the Alamo Bowl, their first postseason appearance since 2016.
During his time with the Bruins, Embree earned 1,776 yards on 137 receptions over a four-year career. The 531 yards he earned during his rookie campaign were a program record for a true freshman. He later partook in the San Diego Chargers’ training camp proceedings during the summer of 2013.
The New York Jets have banded together to compete in the final stanza. This effort can save some players…but not this doomed staff.
If this keeps up, the New York Jets might be able to win the NFC East.
Alas, even the woebegone division, one that will undoubtedly put a team with a losing record in the playoffs after Sunday’s transpirings, would be too far out of the Jets’ reach in a surprising team swap. But Gang Green has spent December providing some holiday cheer in the form of consecutive victories at the end of the NFL season. Each win has come against a team in the thick of the NFL playoff hunt. The Jets (2-13) stole a tilt at SoFi Stadium against the Los Angles Rams (9-6) last weekend before topping the Cleveland Browns (10-5) in this season’s MetLife Stadium finale two days after Christmas.
The triumphs themselves have proved controversial amongst the fanbase. New York’s endeavor for Trevor Lawrence is officially dead after the win over Cleveland, as the Clemson quarterback appears to be headed for Jacksonville after Duval County endured its 14th consecutive loss while the Jets put a Christmas bow on their win over the Browns. The fact the Jets are etched into what will presumably be the first non-Lawrence pick is of little consolation to supporters of the metropolitan green squad.
Those responsible for the on-field triumphs have heeded no mind to those calling for losses, only energized by the past couple of weeks.
“It proves that we don’t quit,” linebacker Tarell Basham, a Sunday hero with two forced fumbles over the final four minutes, said in the aftermath according to an Associated Press report. “It proves that we still are approaching every week to win.”
“We’ve been more consistent, but obviously it’s too late,” quarterback Sam Darnold added in team reporter Jack Bell’s recap. “But it’s huge for our guys who are so resilient playing the way we did as an offense struggling in the second half. The defense and specials having our back. I’m super proud of the guys. We had a huge win in LA last week then came into work on Monday, the whole week and had a good week.”
In an effort to exorcise the demons 2020 has brought forth, football or otherwise, the box scores from the last two weeks are probably set for incineration, along with the rest of the ledgers of this cursed year. But it’s certainly encouraging to see the players band together and play well against what is clearly superior competition.
The Jets have pulled no punches when it comes to expressing their thoughts about supposed fans wishing active harm against the team. Seeing their hard efforts culminate it what has been a strong December…each game of their Christmas quartet has been close with the exception of a 40-3 shellacking in Seattle…is inspiring. All across the roster, participants could well be securing NFL futures in either New York or one of the other 31 markets.
But, in the midst of celebration, it’s worth wondering…have these unexpected triumphs breathed new life into the Adam Gase era?
Gase’s tenure as Jets head coach, however long it remains, could well become defined by ill-advised victories. Time will potentially tell just how much a 7-2 stretch at the end of his debut season, one that followed a garish 1-7 start, altered the course of Jets history. The strong finish gained mostly against teams somehow in even more dire straits than the Jets was enough to convince the powers that be that Gase was the right man for the job. His 2020 performance has consistently proven otherwise.
Yet, even as the Jets threatened to join an unholy trinity of 16-game imperfection with the 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns, Gase’s departure somehow felt anything but certain. After all, several names with football resumes far more expansive than Gase’s were bid farewell before a change in head coaching was apparently considered. Veteran defensive starters Steve McLendon and Avery Williamson were dealt for day three draft picks. Le’Veon Bell was outright released. It took highly publicized bad call for Gregg Williams to be handed an ousting less than 24 hours later. All the while, Gase remained in charge, making increasingly questionable decisions that didn’t exactly fuel the idea that the Jets were trying to win ball games.
The wins over teams of a playoff caliber may be reopening the case for Gase. Even some of the Jets’ recent defeats have show a sense of honor, with four of their prior seven losses coming by one possession. Darnold even remarked after the Cleveland win that he “(loved) working for him”, per Connor Hughes of The Athletic.
But if Gase is back coaching the team in 2021 even in part thanks to this last stretch, that says more about New York management than it ever will about the former Peyton Manning overseer.
For one thing, future discussions of these Jets victories may require asterisks. The Rams victory lost a little bit of luster with rookie rusher Cam Akers noticeably sidelined by an injury (not to mention two of his longer runs, including a touchdown, erased by penalties). A positive test for COVID-19 not only delayed the Browns arrival but the ensuing contact tracing forced them to leave a good portion of their receiving output in Ohio. It’s safe to say that the timing of their respective matchups played well in the Jets’ favor.
But hidden behind the final score are subtle signs that the Jets are making the same mistakes that dug them into this hole in the first place. Progress isn’t be made in the right areas. The Jets are winning in spite of their recurring, apparent issues…not because they’ve overcome them.
For example, the Jets offense still hasn’t reached optimal levels of output, especially under a supposed “guru” like Gase. Darnold, for example, hasn’t taken the next step on his journey as an NFL franchise man. He has yet to earn a triple-digit passer rating and has yet to break the 300-yard mark this season. Sure, numbers don’t entirely make or break an NFL quarterback’s career, but there was a reason that Jets fans were so eager to see Lawrence fall into their laps. Speaking of offense, a lack of scoring, particularly the shrinkage as the game goes on, has been concerning from an offensive standpoint. The Jets have had matching, convincing 13-3 leads at halftime in each of their last two games, but have been forced to rely on bailouts from a tired defense to secure each win. This Sunday marked only the fourth time this season the Jets offense has gotten past the 300-yard mark (333). Such a struggle should almost be impossible in this modern NFL ruled by a fantasy football deity.
Additionally, Gase and Co. continue to make baffling decisions that make one question whether the Jets want to truly pull out a victory. The Jets continue to leave points on the field at opportune times of the ball game, whether it’s sending Braden Mann out to punt on a one-yard fourth down circa midfield or continuing to insist on a Frank Gore farewell tour while Ty Johnson and La’Mical Perine watch. Not only does it affect the Jets’ task at hand, but it throws a wrench into their future as well. One can argue that Johnson and Perine aren’t cut out for a New York future, but the evidence will never be present if they’re not getting some of Gore’s workload in a dire situation.
A purge is indeed coming to the New York Jets. Part of it will be enforced by contractual endeavors…the Jets will have 32 players up for free agency this offseason…but necessity will be the primary factor. At no point in Gase’s tenure have the Jets come remotely close to resembling a contender in the modern NFL. Not even the good times, whether it was the optimistic second half of last season or this new, active winning streak, have given much hope, as fans have grumbled about falling down in the draft order rather than relatively upward in the standings. With rare exception, players have not been put in a strong position to succeed, to extend whatever good times have surfaced over the past few seasons. Those shortcomings, still very much present despite new results on the scoreboard, primarily fall on Gase and his staff with little exception (i.e. special teams boss Brant Boyer).
At the end of the day, those who thrust the Jets into a bizarro football world where victories are considered to be the worst thing that can happen to the franchise should be the first ones held accountable when the purge inevitably comes. Two wins don’t change the fact that Gase is the main culprit.
An original star of the New York Liberty is set to take her second head coaching job after spending the past 15 years with the Aces franchise.
Per Chantel Jennings of The Athletic, New York Liberty legend Vickie Johnson is set to become the new head coach of the Dallas Wings. Johnson, 48, would be the 11th head coach of a franchise that began life as the Detroit Shock in 1998.
The Coushatta, Louisiana native has spent the past 15 years in some capacity with the Las Vegas Aces franchise, which was previously known as the San Antonio Silver Stars (later simply known as the Stars). She spent the final four seasons (2006-09) of her WNBA career with the team before serving as an assistant coach under Sandy Brondello (2010) and Dan Hughes (2011-16). Johnson would later oversee the final season in San Antonio (2017), going 8-28 before the team moved to Las Vegas. She was retained over the last three seasons on Bill Laimbeer’s staff, working alongside another Liberty alumna, Tanisha Wright, in the last.
Johnson began her WNBA career as an original member of the Liberty, drafted by the team in the “elite” portion (reserved for players who had previously played internationally) of the inaugural draft in 1997. Working with fellow former Louisiana Tech Lady Techster Teresa Weatherspoon and several others, Johnson helped the Liberty reach four of the first six WNBA Finals (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002). The team earned a franchise-best 21 wins in 2001, a record that stood until 2015. Johnson reached two All-Star Games as a member of the Liberty (1999, 2001). Upon her departure in 2005, she was the Liberty’s all-time leading scorer with 3,246 points, which was broken by Tina Charles in 2019. Johnson remains the Liberty’s all-time leader in games played (282) and is one of five players in the team’s Ring of Honor (joining teammates Weatherspoon, Becky Hammon, Kym Hampton, Rebecca Lobo, and Sue Wicks).
In joining Dallas, Johnson inherits the only team in the WNBA that’s younger than the Liberty in terms of age. No one on the team has more than four years’ experience in the WNBA, the roster headlined by 2020 first-rounders Satou Sabally, Bella Alarie, and Tyasha Harris. Sabally was the second overall pick in last April’s draft, chosen immediately after the Liberty took her Oregon teammate Sabrina Ionescu at No. 1. Also present is Arike Ogunbowale, the 2019 Rookie of the Year. Johnson takes over for Brian Agler, who went 18-38 in two seasons at the helm. Johnson will also be the first Black female to service in a head coaching capacity since Pokey Chatman in Indiana (2016-19).
The Liberty and Wings will each partake in the 2020 WNBA Draft Lottery on Friday night, set to be held during halftime of the college basketball game between Louisville and DePaul (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). New York will own the best odds in the lottery with a 44.2 percent chance of gaining the top overall pick. General manager Jonathan Kolb is expected to represent the team.
New York Liberty legend Teresa Weatherspoon will serve as a full-time assistant coach under Stan Van Gundy.
Teresa Weatherspoon and a Van Gundy indirectly united to create hardwood magic at the turn of the century in the Big Apple. That magic is on its way to the Big Easy.
The New Orleans Pelicans announced a series of adjustments to their coaching staff on Monday, headlined by the promotion of Weatherspoon, who will take a full-time assistant coach position with the NBA franchise. She will work under newly-minted head coach Stan Van Gundy, the brother of former New York Knicks boss Jeff, whose New York tenure (1996-2001) overlapped with Weatherspoon’s glory days.
Weatherspoon, 54, joined the team last season as a player development coach and spent her time between the Pelicans and the Erie BayHawks, their G League affiliate. Now, Weatherspoon becomes the eighth woman to serve on an NBA bench, joining fellow Liberty legend and longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon.
Weatherspoon partook in the first seven seasons of Liberty basketball (1997-2003), appearing in five WNBA All-Star Games and three WNBA Finals. She is perhaps best known for launching the most famous shot in WNBA history, a desperation three-pointer from beyond half-court that allowed the Liberty to steal a Finals win from the Houston Comets in the 1999 championship series. Weatherspoon also earned the first two WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards and currently ranks 12th all-time in assists (1,338) and 21st in steals (465). Induction into the Naismith Memorial Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame awaited Weatherspoon last season. She has since been named to the WNBA’s anniversary teams in 2011 and 2016.
Weatherspoon retired after a single season in Los Angeles in 2004. Since then, she has been involved in several coaching positions, including a variety of front office and player development roles with the Liberty in the six seasons before receiving the call from New Orleans. She also served as the head coach at her alma mater of Louisiana Tech for five-plus seasons (2009-14), taking them to a pair of NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournaments (2010, 2011).
Another New Orleans hire with a local connection is Beno Udrih, The two-time NBA champion and former first-round pick spent part of last year’s shortened G League campaign with the Knicks’ affiliate in Westchester as an assistant, his first coaching position.
In what is already turning into another wild offseason for the Brooklyn Nets, it was announced that the Nets will be finalizing terms with Mike D’Antoni and Ime Udoka to become assistant coaches under new Head Coach Steve Nash.
Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to break the news via Twitter. D’Antoni joins two of his former players in Nash and Stoudemire, both of whom helped D’Antoni gain notoriety as one of the most brilliant offensive minds in basketball during the mid to late 2000s. The real question is, in terms of importance to the team, where do these assistant coaches rank amongst each other?
Ranking Brooklyn’s Assistant Coaches from Most Important to Least
#1 – Mike D’Antoni is coming off a 4-year run in Houston that included 4 straight Conference Semifinals berths, no easy feat in the daunting Western Conference. He is still respected around the league as a brilliant offensive mind and was able to manage personalities such as James Harden, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook. Marks is hoping that D’Antoni will be able to not only support Nash but also figure out the best way for two ball-dominant superstars in Kyrie and KD to maximize their effectiveness together. Perhaps, Nash and D’Antoni will implement a more fast-paced, high-scoring offense as they executed to perfection during their tenure together in Phoenix. Because of his pedigree, I think D’Antoni should be ranked #1.
#2 – Jacque Vaughn is STILL the top assistant to Nash and has the most familiarity with the young players on this team. Vaughn proved he isn’t afraid of the spotlight during his run in the Orlando bubble as interim Head Coach. The Nets played hard and fought for Vaughn down the stretch, and while he was swept in the playoffs by Toronto, Marks felt it was important to keep Vaughn on the staff even with the hire of Nash. Because of these reasons, JV is my #2 most important assistant coach on this staff.
#3 Ime Udoka, a name many may be slightly less familiar with, Udoka spent last season in Philadelphia and received several interviews for Head Coaching positions, one interview being with the New York Knicks, but ultimately agreed to join Brooklyn’s coaching staff as an assistant. Udoka served under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio for seven years before Philadelphia and won a ring with Sean Marks in 2014 when the two were on the same coaching staff together. A 7 year NBA veteran and a longtime assistant to Pop, Udoka the #3 assistant coach rank. FUN FACT: Udoka has been dating the beautiful actress, Nia Long, since 2010 (according to Wikipedia).
#4 Adam Harrington has been with the Nets organization since 2016 as an assistant and is definitely one of the more popular names amongst present and past players. Harrington can be seen on Twitter tweeting out videos of ball handling drills with his children or playfully responding to a picture of Joe Harris’s family as they engage in Halloween activities. A former NBA player himself, Adam has done a great job of engaging with players on this roster since he’s been here, most notably developing a fantastic relationship with Spencer Dinwiddie during Spence’s growth as a player. Harrington is my #4 selection
#5 Amare Stoudemire’s basketball accomplishments, both in the NBA and abroad, speak for themselves. As someone who has worked with Nash and D’Antoni in the past, he should be an easy fit with this new Brooklyn Nets culture. But don’t get it twisted; Stoudemire has one job and one job only. And that’s to continue to develop Jarrett Allen and Nic Claxton. Hopefully, with Stoudemire’s guidance, Allen will be able to improve his overall offensive game, and Claxton will be able to find his offensive game. Even though he is coming off a championship with Maccabi Tel Aviv, his lack of coaching experience puts him #5 on my list.
Adam Gase may have the hottest seat in football, but the embattled head coach of the New York Jets might still be able to save his job.
After his team blew yet another strong fourth quarter lead, Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn appeared to sit in the proverbial hottest seat in football.
Adam Gase and the New York Jets appeared to reply “hold our Gatorade”.
Less than two weeks after Gase was labeled an “offensive genius” by team CEO Christopher Johnson, the Jets (0-3) have endured consecutive shellackings by a combined 47-point deficit. The losses have come against a San Francisco 49ers squad missing a good portion of its starters and the Indianapolis Colts, whose ceiling likely resides on wild-card weekend. New York also ranks in the lowest portions of nearly all offensive categories, only raising the temperature on the second-year head coach.
Despite Johnson’s vote of confidence, rumors persist that the Jets may be ready to move on. Fox Sports’ host Colin Cowherd remarked during his Monday show that a source has claimed that Gase is set to be fired should the Jets fall to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night in East Rutherford (8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network). The extended break that follows the Denver game only increases the possibility, as if the Jets’ performance over the first three weeks of the season wasn’t enough to convince anyone a change has to be made. Through three weeks, the Jets are the lone team in the NFL to hold a lead at any point this season.
Players have also spoken out against Gase’s practices, though quarterback Sam Darnold has been supportive.
“We’ve been put in great positions to go out there and succeed, to go out there and make plays and execute a game plan that’s put together perfectly for us,’’ Darnold said, per Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post. “It’s just about us going out there and executing. That’s it. I’ve just got to execute the play that’s called.’’
New York has not fired a coach midseason since 1975, when they fired Charley Winner, who was also in the midst of his second season with the team.
The case of Gase may be too far gone, with the trigger fingers of NFL decisionmakers quicker than ever. It took the Arizona Cardinals only a single season to give up on Steve Wilks, for example. A 2016 playoff berth wasn’t enough to give Ben McAdoo a full season when the Jets’ MetLife Stadium co-tenants endured a brutal sophomore season under his watch. Thus, the invisible clock has more than likely start to tick on Gase. If they can’t beat a Denver squad sending Brett Rypien into his first NFL start, midnight will likely chime.
How can Gase stick around? ESM investigates…
No More Gore
It’s admirable what Frank Gore, 37, has been able to do this late in his career. Through three weeks, Gore is second amongst running backs in their 30s with 144 yards (behind only Adrian Peterson in Detroit), though that has mostly come from an unusually high workload in the wake of Le’Veon Bell’s injury. He’s currently averaging a career-low 3.4 yards on 42 carries, 38 of which have come over the last two games.
Gore’s Florham Park prescience has a purpose. The rusher, third all-time in yardage, can still be serviceable as a spell option (1,321 yards with Miami and Buffalo over the past two seasons). A similar journey from rebuild to Super Bowl can also be inspiring to this inexperienced green squad. But Gore is no longer at a level where he can single-handedly turn games on their head. There’s no need to force a 37-year-old back into 19 carries a game, especially when you have a rookie running back that can potentially contribute.
The Jets have high hopes for La’Mical Perine, a fourth-round rushing selection. Formerly of Florida, the freshman is working with a team best 4.1 yards per carry…but, the problem is, he has only had 10 opportunities to date. Gase has continually expressed his desire to get Perine more opportunities, and it appears he’s not alone.
“Perine has been awesome. Super explosive,” Darnold said in a report from Rich Cimini. “He has ‘big play’ written all over him.”
Had we been talking about this a decade ago, sure, Gore could be the man to solve this offensive conundrum. But with this dreadful start offering the cruel silver lining of 13 research and development opportunities…basically preseason games denied by coronavirus…Gase needs to give young players an opportunity to showcase their skills. If things go well, it could work in Gase’s favor in terms of him staying, allowing him to build a rapport with young players.
Take a Chance
In the final verse of “Like a Rolling Stone”, arguably his most renowned work, Bob Dylan declared “when you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose”.
It’s highly unlikely that Blind Boy Grunt was prophesizing the status of the 2010s/20s New York Jets, but they can learn something from that line.
Going along with the theme of the research and development silver lining, another macabre gift that the Jets have is that there is little, if any, consequence, to their remaining games. Dead last in the AFC by October’s debut, there’s simply too many teams to leapfrog and too many brutal opponents and performances to even consider the mere idea of the postseason. Thus, they should take advantage of this opportunity.
Kicking field goals down 24-3 in “goal-to-go” situations isn’t the way to do that. But that’s exactly what the Jets did in their home opener against San Francisco.
If the Jets are going to sit in the NFL cellar, the least they can do is be entertaining. By this point, there’s more or less no reason to punt once they cross their own 40-yard-line and facing fourth down with less than six yards to go (sorry, Braden Mann).
Risk-taking could play out in Gase’s favor in more ways than one. Not only could it take the advice of one of his New York predecessors (“You play to win the game!”), but it can give members of a beleaguered offense a chance to showcase their talents and allow them to audition for a role in 2021.
Be an Offensive Genius
All it takes to find Johnson’s “offensive genius” comments…well, offensive, is a quick glance at sortable team stats on any football stats sites.
Most of the unit’s rankings are double-digit numbers that start with a “3”…when there are 32 teams in your league, that’s never a good sign. Each of the Jets’ NFL brethren has earned more yards (791), first downs (47), and touchdowns (4) through three games. The Jets have failed to earn 300 yards in any of the opening trio, a borderline impossibility in today’s football landscape. Unless you’re a double-agent from New England, Buffalo, or Miami, nothing about that screams genius.
To save his job, Gase needs to make some progress with a young, developing offense. That starts with Sam Darnold, the franchise quarterback who’s making throws that would be concerning in a rookie season, much less a third campaign. For the first time, there’s legitimate doubt over whether he’s the man of the future for this franchise. Reestablishing that idea will be vital to Gase keeping his spot.
Gase and company are set to gain at least some reinforcements in time for the primetime showdown with the Broncos. Jamison Crowder is expected to be back, while Mekhi Becton’s injury in Indianapolis is not expected to be anything long-term.
Honestly, the surest cure Gase can provide is that of victory.
The Jets posted a 7-9 ledger last season, earning their best win total since the star-crossed 2015 campaign. Those wins, almost a winning record by modern New York standards (on either side), masked a good part of the 2019 malarkey. It was enough to make many, including the Jets’ decisionmakers, apparently forget about the 1-7 start, none of those in the right column being particularly close. Gase and his comrades too advantage of a weak second half, topping Washington, Oakland, Miami, and their blue MetLife Stadium roommates. The outliers came against Pittsburgh and Buffalo. While the former was somewhat impressive, more or less ending the Steelers’ playoff chances, it came against a pair of backup quarterbacks, as did the season-ending triumph in Orchard Park with the Bills resting starters upon locking up the fifth AFC playoff seed.
Thursday’s game against Denver is the perfect storm: the Broncos come in reeling from injuries of their own. Many had pegged them as a surprise playoff contender, energized by a strong finish from then-rookie Drew Lock. However, Lock’s one of the players down (joining Courtland Sutton, Von Miller, Jurrell Casey, and A.J. Bouye), replaced first by Jeff Driskel and now Brett Rypien, he of his first NFL start…and that’s only because recent signee Blake Bortles isn’t ready. Combine that with the ten days off to prepare with a potential interim boss, and Gase’s Jets are faced with the most morbid kind of must-win.
Realistically, Thursday may be one of the final times casual observers put the Jets in the “favorite” column. November begins with a matchup against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, who haven’t lost a step. The Jamal Adams revenge game in Seattle awaits in December. This doesn’t even include the yearly double nightmare against New England.
Winning is going to be the best thing to help Gase right now, even if the playoffs are far removed from any New York conversation (green or blue). Heck, the Gase goose may be already cooked. But that shouldn’t stop anyone in the locker from providing even the slightest bit of metropolitan hope.