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Adam Gase, New York Jets offense have a mentality problem

Adam Gase
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Adam Gase and the New York Jets offense have a severe mentality problem every time they take the field against any opponent.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—There’s a feeling every football player gets each summer. It’s one of sheer dominance. Looking at the defender lined up on the other side, surging off the line quickly, engaging, lifting and driving the opponent into the turf while ensuring the last thing he sees is the customization of your helmet and facemask is that feeling nearly every football player envisions (even Braden Mann, at times).

Nobody gets in this game just go casually get by. Football players play because it offers plenty of room for greatness, and those with the feeling of dominance in the air tend to join the greats arm and arm.

If only Adam Gase coached with the very same feeling.

He at least he spit some fire with the media after the game was over.

“I’m pissed right now,” Gase said following his team’s embarrassing 31-13 loss to the beaten up San Francisco 49ers. “That sh*t is not fun, going out there and getting your ass beat. We need to get better fast.”

The New York Jets’ horrendous effort at MetLife Stadium in Week 2 allowed us to witness more of the troublesome cracks this coaching staff has to offer.

Braxton Berrios scored the team’s only touchdown of the game—a garbage-time scramble drill from a vintage-looking Sam Darnold on the run (if only for one play). It was a beauty by the young quarterback, but the problem lies in a more deeply-rooted issue.

This team has a mentality problem.

When squaring off against a much more talented team, the attitude cannot be, “Let’s hang with the best.” It instead needs to be, “Let’s aggressively attack the best.” Instead of looking to stay even, the mindset needs to catapult the group ahead. How they couldn’t do that based on the offense’s first-down success is amazing.

The Jets managed just 277 total yards of offense and no substantial touchdowns despite the offensive line’s tremendous play on first down.

The Jets ran the ball 15 times for 79 yards on first down. That’s a tidy 5.2 yards per clip mark. On second down, they ran it for just 20 yards on eight tries. In the first half, Gase’s offense tallied 41 yards on seven attempts (5.8 yards per carry). They could only muster eight yards on five carries on second down (1.6 YPC).

Not bad first-down sledding for a brand-new five-man unit put together by Joe Douglas this past offseason. How Gase, Darnold and the offense couldn’t capitalize on those sparkling numbers is the mystery of the moment and the reason they lost this game.

Gase’s second-down play-calling really hurt the Jets Sunday afternoon.

Instead of getting ahead of the chains and the defensive scheme a bit, Gase would slowplay things. Turning a second-and-5 into a third-and-2 was a major win in the mind of the gameplan-centric coach.

Unfortunately, Gase doesn’t have the Jets’ 2009 offensive line. Like most NFL O-lines, they cannot win in every situation.

So instead of using second-and manageable to his advantage, Gase carefully abided by the plan of attack—one that firmly kept the Niners’ excellent four-man pass rush in mind.

“We had to do a good job of moving the ball, staying third and manageable,” Gase said in his opening statement to the media. “We actually did that in the first half on offense, but we didn’t score when we got our chances in the red zone.

“We had to start off the game a certain way. We knew that coming into it. The big thing that we talked about was making sure we took advantage of our opportunities in the red zone. We have a negative run and we knock ourselves out of the red zone.”

The first problem is the Jets only marched into the red zone twice all game. The criminal problem is that the Niners’ defense was no longer the “Niners defense” once the injuries mounted.

Nick Bosa was lost early, most likely to a torn ACL. Richard Sherman and Dee Ford missed the game entirely. Soloman Thomas also found himself injured. Even offensive players Jimmy Garoppolo and Raheem Mostert exited the game for good.

Gase was so concerned with the Niners’ dominant pass rush that a conservative game plan took his quarterback and offense completely out of the game. Not until the fourth quarter did any Jets weapon have a downfield chance in a one-on-one situation—the spots NFL rules reward for taking shots.

What happened when Darnold finally took his first real one-on-one shot? Defensive pass interference, of course. Chris Herndon lined up wide and Darnold took a shot against a single-high, one-on-one look.

Ryan Griffin was the next man up a little later, and although he hauled it in, offensive pass interference was called. (Hey, it happens.) Then, Darnold tried to hit Josh Malone for a big chunk in a one-on-one situation. Defensive pass interference, again.

The NFL rewards offenses for taking shots into single coverage, yet Gase far too often allows the fears of the other team’s defense to cloud that fact. Since San Fran’s four-man pass rush is so dominant, Gase thought Darnold would have no time, and that it was imperative to stay out of third-and-longs.

He was right about the third-and-longs, but there’s no point in that goal if your offense is getting wallopped on second-and-manageable and third-and-short—the downs that give the young quarterback the best chance of some momentum through the air.

Darnold rarely changed things at the line, as well, which is a sign Gase wanted to stick to the rigid, conservative approach. It simply does not work if you’re without a good defense and a hall of fame-type offensive line, especially in today’s league.

In fact, the quarterback told the media he didn’t have the ability to change things at the line prior to the Josh Adams fourth-and-1 call that turned it over on downs.

“No, we just stick with it,” Darnold said.

After Frank Gore nearly picked up the first on second, he was stuffed on third-and-1 and the Adams inside call was blown up in the backfield. It yet another Niners’ single-high, press-outside look and situation that could have given Darnold and the offense confidence through the air.

The defense is another story altogether. Without Jamal Adams, everything has become exposed. Adams’s presence would not have turned this unit into a league force, but the lack of a pass rush makes it one of the NFL’s worst without the Jets’ former best player.

From the poor tackling on defense (nobody keeping their feet, lounging) to the conservative approach against an unfamiliar Niners’ pass rush, not only do the Jets have a mentality problem, but they often give the opponent too much respect when putting together the offensive game plan.

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Yeah, so what San Fran rushes four well? We’ll run the ball down their throats and allow our quarterback to get going early on second or third-and-shorts. We’ll take our shots early when the Niners bow and say, “Here it is” (single-high, press, etc.).

Instead, Gase thought his offensive line could miraculously block all-out run blitzes on second-and-three or third-and-two. Instead, he put his quarterback in pressurized third downs far too often. He made sure his offense had to be perfect on long, sustained drives instead of attempting easy quick chunks when it made sense.

That sort of time-management thing could work for Bill Parcells‘s 1990 New York Giants. It doesn’t work for the 2020 New York Jets—especially in this high-flying league.

This team has a serious “mentality” problem spearheaded by Adam Gase, the head coach.

“No,” Gase said when asked if this was a good day on offense for his team. “We moved the ball at the beginning of the game. Then, we had some injury issues. We were down to two wide receivers. We didn’t execute in the red zone. We have to put it in there and get seven.”

They did move the ball at the beginning of the game, making the fact they didn’t put up more yards and points more absurd. Then the excuses start to come and the obvious points hit home. That is until the most glaring comment hit everybody’s machines, courtesy of Zoom.

“We have to stay with the other team,” Gase added.

No, you don’t. You have to get ahead of them, which means taking shots when it makes sense in a shot-filled league.

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3 years ago

Robby help me understand if a team is doing fairly well in the run game on 1st down as you mentioned wouldn’t it make sense to run some play action on second down . Also I am very curious why we never see Sam rolling out …one of Sams strengths is throwing on the move..please share your thoughts