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Numbers behind Adam Gase’s enormous struggles with the New York Jets

Adam Gase
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Adam Gase has had the New York Jets looking like one of the most embarrassing teams in football since taking over in 2019.

Far too many abysmal offensive performances

Since Gase took over for the Jets in 2019, his team leads the NFL in games with under 300 yards (12) and is tied with Cincinnati and Washington for the most games with under 20 points (12).

In 2019, the Jets faced the league’s 11th-easiest slate of opposing defenses according to DVOA. They played seven of their games against teams ranked in the bottom-10 of defensive DVOA, including five against teams ranked in the bottom-five. The schedule laid out favorably for the Jets to have a consistent offensive season mostly devoid of lowly performances, but they still had more terrible outings than anybody else.

The Jets’ first two opponents this year (Buffalo and San Francisco) each have an excellent defense, but that’s hardly an excuse for the two grotesque offensive performances put forth by Gase’s team.

Buffalo and San Francisco have combined to allow 26.0 points, 28.5 first downs, and 407.5 yards in their other games this season, whereas the Jets only put up 15.0 points, 16.0 first downs, and 265.5 yards against them. To boot, the 49ers didn’t even have Richard Sherman or Dee Ford and lost Nick Bosa early in the game after struggling defensively the previous week with all three Pro Bowlers healthy.

Those Jets numbers are extremely misleading, too, as the Jets only had 10 points against Buffalo and six against San Francisco prior to garbage time (8.0 pre-garbage time points per game).

The rate at which Gase’s teams accrue games in which they cannot find any groove whatsoever throughout all four quarters is embarrassing. It’s a sign of Gase’s complete lack of an ability to adjust in-game. He remains stubbornly attached to his gameplan, allowing bad quarters to snowball into bad halves and bad halves to snowball into bad games without showing any willingness to switch things up based on what his opponent throws at him.

Very few elite offensive performances

The peaks have not been there to balance out the valleys. Under Gase, the Jets’ best third down conversion rate in a game is 42.9% (vs. MIA, @ BAL). Every team in the NFL has hit the 45% mark or higher in at least three games over that span (save for Washington, who has only done it once). Eight teams have done it at least 10 times and 17 teams have done it at least eight times. Gase’s team is the only one that has not done it once.

The best scoring total posted by the Jets under Gase is 34 points. The Bears, Lions, and Steelers are the only other teams that have not had a 35-point game since 2019.

Under Gase, the Jets’ highest number of first downs accumulated in a game is 23. Pittsburgh is the only other team to have zero games with at least 25 first downs. Every other team in the NFL has hit 25 first downs at least twice and 19 teams have done it at least four times.

Hard to get any worse than hitting the bullseye less than anyone else and missing the dartboard entirely more than anyone else.

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Extremely high frequency of blowout losses

Gase’s proneness to losing in blowout fashion was a major problem in Miami, and that has predictably spilled over to New York.

From 2016-18, the Dolphins lost 19 games by at least nine points (multiple scores), third-most in the league behind San Francisco (20) and Cleveland (24).

Since 2019, the Jets have lost nine games by at least nine points, third-most behind only Miami (10) and Washington (11).

Extremely low frequency of blowout wins

On the other end of the spectrum, Gase’s teams are rarely thorough enough to smother their opponent into submission.

The Jets only have two wins by nine points or more under Gase (against Washington and Oakland in Weeks 11-12 of 2019), tied for fifth-fewest. Only Washington (1), Oakland/Las Vegas (0), Miami (0), and Detroit (0) have fewer multi-score victories since the beginning of last season.

Random luck in close games has kept Gase afloat

So, the aforementioned information begs the question: if Gase is about as bad as it gets at both blowing teams out and avoiding being blown out, why is his career record a mediocre 30-36 (.455) and not something much, much worse?

Gase has had been inexplicably good in close games. From 2016-18, Miami had a league-best 20-6 record (.769) in games decided by eight points or less. With the Jets, he’s 5-2 (.714) in such games, seventh-best since 2019.

This tremendous efficiency in close games is what has made Gase’s teams look far better than they are in actuality. From 2016-18, the Dolphins ranked 29th in point differential (-5.1) but 18th in win percentage (.479) with a 23-25 record. Their expected win percentage over that span (based on point differential, via a formula at Pro-Football-Reference) was just .375 (18-30). Based on how his teams truly performed overall, Gase’s Dolphins should have won five fewer games than they did.

Since 2019, the 7-11 Jets are one of 10 teams that have a win total in the 6-to-8 range, and the Jets have the worst point differential (-6.2) among them. Their actual win percentage under Gase is .389, but their expected win percentage is .323 (5.8-12.2).

If Gase really was a fourth-quarter mastermind that helps his team exceed expectations by excelling at concocting ways to finish out games, his close game record would be a real plus. But he’s not. Winning close contests is not a legitimate skill of Gase’s. He has just been unbelievably lucky.

Some of the things that have gone Gase’s way are so incredibly lucky that it’s almost as if the football gods feel bad about all of his blowout losses and have decided to help him out with insane breaks whenever he needs to one to pull out a close game.

In Week 14 of last year, the Jets barely squeaked by an awful Dolphins team at home thanks only to a toss-up pass interference call on a 3rd & 18 play that went the Jets’ way. Had that penalty not been called, the Jets most likely would have lost and thus been swept by a team that was led in rushing by Ryan Fitzpatrick and entered the season with an over-under of 4.5.

Against the Cowboys in Week 6, the Jets choked away a 21-3 lead and allowed the Cowboys a chance to tie the game on a two-point conversion with 47 seconds left. A great play by Jamal Adams and a great call by Gregg Williams on that two-point play saved the day. Gase had nothing to do with that.

In the Week 16 game against Pittsburgh, the Jets never trailed throughout the game and then nearly allowed Pittsburgh to tie the game (and presumably take the lead on an extra point) on a Devlin Hodges deep bomb with 51 seconds left, but Marcus Maye made a clutch breakup in the end zone to preserve the lead. Once again, Gase had nothing to do with that. Plus, the Jets won on the strength of a defense that allowed 10 points. Gase’s offense, which put up 16 points and 259 yards, was terrible.

Across those three games (all at home against teams that had a losing record on the road), Gase’s offense averaged only 20.7 points, and in all three, the tide was turned on a play that he had no control over.

This was the case in Miami, too. In 2018, Gase beat the Patriots on the famous “Miami Miracle,” one of the luckiest plays in NFL history. He also beat the Bears thanks to a missed field goal by Cody Parkey in overtime. Most notably to Jets fans, he beat a rookie Sam Darnold – who threw four interceptions behind a center that could not snap the ball – in a game where his Dolphins offense picked up seven first downs. That’s the fourth-fewest in Miami history. And Gase got a win for that effort!

Back in 2017, the Jets blew a 28-14 lead over the Dolphins due largely to an utterly brutal Josh McCown interception late in the fourth quarter that gift-wrapped a game-winning field goal attempt for Miami.

Gase’s uncanny luck in these close games is what has pushed him to a mediocre record instead of a bottom-of-the-barrel record that matches the level his teams have actually performed at. If he had league-average luck in close games, Gase would have posted win totals in the 3-to-5 range for the Dolphins and Jets from 2017-19, exposing the actual quality of his coaching.

Instead, a few balls have bounced his way to make his records look much more defensible, prompting the ownership in Miami and now New York to believe in him much more than they would if they read between the lines rather than just looking at the win column.

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