The New York Jets completed a head coaching search as notable for the candidate they passed over, former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, as for the one they chose, former Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase.
The Jets settled on Gase as their new coach and were completing a contract with him Wednesday night, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Gase succeeds Todd Bowles, who was fired following a 4-12 season, and lands on his feet after his own dismissal by the Dolphins. For the Jets, it is something new. Gase is the first newly hired Jets head coach to have previous NFL head coaching experience since Bill Parcells in 1997. He is the first offensive-oriented head coach hired by the Jets since Rich Kotite in 1995.
But for the NFL, this was more of the same in this hiring cycle. Six new head coaches had been hired as of Wednesday night. And five of them — Matt LaFleur with the Packers, Kliff Kingsbury with the Arizona Cardinals, Bruce Arians with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Freddie Kitchens with the Cleveland Browns and Gase — are offensive-minded coaches. The only defensive-oriented head coach hired so far is Vic Fangio by the Denver Broncos.
Gase, now 40, was regarded as one of the league’s brightest young offensive minds when he worked with quarterback Peyton Manning in Denver as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator. He accompanied his former boss, John Fox, to the Chicago Bears for a season in 2015, then landed his first head coaching job with the Dolphins. Things started well for Gase in South Florida; the Dolphins went 10-6 and reached the playoffs in Gase’s first season in 2016.
But things unraveled from there. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill couldn’t stay healthy, and the Dolphins went 6-10 last season and 7-9 this season following a 3-0 start. Owner Stephen Ross decided he’d seen enough and fired Gase.
The Jets were undeterred, however. Manning reportedly had a conversation with Christopher Johnson, the team’s chairman, endorsing Gase, and the Jets chose Gase over McCarthy, a former Super Bowl winner in Green Bay who’d coached a two-time league MVP in quarterback Aaron Rodgers with the Packers. McCarthy does not appear to be a candidate for either of the NFL’s remaining head coaching vacancies, in Cincinnati or Miami, and seems to have little choice but to take a season off before attempting to reenter the league’s head coaching ranks.
Gase will be given the task in New York of developing quarterback Sam Darnold, the third player chosen in last year’s NFL draft. Darnold had moments of brilliance as a rookie but was far from consistent, throwing 15 interceptions to go with his 17 touchdown passes and posting a passer rating of 77.6 in his 13 starts. Still, he is widely regarded as a franchise quarterback in the making, and now it is Gase’s responsibility to ensure that he reaches NFL stardom.
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