Adam Gase’s late-game courage is what propelled the New York Jets past the Dallas Cowboys, 24-22, in Week 6 of the 2019 season.
How many times have New York Jets fans witnessed the same late-game story? Up three, four or even seven points, the Jets choke on the ball late and tell the defense to go win the game. Obviously, rarely does it work. Between Todd Bowles and Rex Ryan, the Jets have blown an incredible number of late-game leads during this pass-happy era of football that’s exploded over the last 12-14 years. The defensive-minded coaches’ stubbornness in thinking his defense could still get the job done was what oftentimes buried the Jets.
Say what you want about Adam Gase. What you can’t say is that he’ll choke on the ball and attempt to close a game out in a 1988-style fashion.
We witnessed how Gase handles end-of-game situations a couple of times last year. The most glowing example is Week 6 when his Jets hung on for dear life against the Dallas Cowboys.
After Ezekiel Elliott scored to make it a five-point game, the Jets gained possession late in the fourth quarter. At that very moment, thinking about what happened in Week 1 against Buffalo, it would very feasible to see a head coach choke on the ball. Run it on first, run it on second and put his quarterback in a tough third-and-long situation.
Not this time.
Sabo’s Sessions breaks down the Jets’ six-play drive that resulted in a field goal that made it an eight-point game.
The full Jet X member-only video is near the bottom of this page and can also be seen on the Sabo's Sessions homepage (if you're a paid member and logged in).
Play No. 1
The first play of the series is by far the most critical. Dallas comes out in an aggressive look with a safety in the box and man align across the board. Gase allows young Sam Darnold to make a play against a single-high look.
The key is allowing the offense to surprise the defense on first down. Calling a defense in a late-game situation calls for sacrifices, most of which cannot be bent. Considering the Jets’ rushing attack wasn’t even mediocre a year ago, running it here, against this look, would have immediately put the Jets behind the eight-ball.
In terms of execution, it’s really all Darnold. The Cowboys corners use the bail technique which puts them in good positioning against both fade routes on the sideline. Darnold makes a play with his feet and leads Jamison Crowder into the soft spot for a huge chunk.
Play No. 2
What we see on play No. 2 is more standard to the situation. Gase rolls with a mid-zone that picks up just enough to make the play a success.
Play No. 3
The third play is a beauty. First of all, Gase calls a man-beater against a Cover 1 defense. Darnold could have had his pick of Robby Anderson on the slot-wheel back-shoulder or Crowder on the eventual slant out of the right slot.
Darnold goes with Anderson. The confidence displayed by both Gase and Darnold (with the pass to Anderson’s back-shoulder) is tremendous. On a second-and-6 situation, Gase doesn’t hesitate. He puts the game in his young quarterback’s hands.
Part of Mark Sanchez‘s problem was the fact that the Jets coaching staff didn’t allow him enough chances to succeed or fail in big spots. Ground-and-pound minimized his exposure and he could never truly develop. This was Darnold’s first game back from mono and Gase was already letting him rip it when the bread was firmly on the line.
Play No. 4
Back to the ground game, Gase goes. An outside zone out of 22 personnel yields a few yards.