At Monday’s news conference to introduce Adam Gase as his team’s new head coach, Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said he didn’t make the hire “to win Twitter.” That’s as may be, but Gase won Twitter anyway — or at least his eyes did.
The former Dolphins head coach appeared to have an unusual, wide-eyed intensity to his gaze, which also seemed to wander in unexpected directions during the 20-minute media session. The Internet took notice with its customary irreverence from the moment Gase took his seat.
Gase didn’t say anything particularly noteworthy apart from indicating that he might not bother to hire a quarterbacks coach, preferring to work closely himself with Sam Darnold, the Jets' young signal-caller. “I think the less voices there, the better,” said Gase, who also claimed his defensive coordinator, yet to be named, would have to be “the head coach of the defense,” because Gase will be so heavily focused on the other side of the ball.
Meanwhile, Johnson was defending a choice he made with General Manager Mike Maccagnan that was met with widespread dismay by Jets fans. Gase went 23-25 with the Dolphins, plus 0-1 in the playoffs, while appearing to be a less-than-popular figure in their locker room. He also had some contentious moments with reporters in Miami, a concern for someone who will get all sorts of tough questions from the New York media.
“I’m not trying to win Twitter. I’m trying to win football games,” Johnson said, adding of Gase, “To paraphrase Wayne Gretzky, he’s coaching to where football is going.”
The Jets' CEO referred to Gase’s “vision” of how to construct a state-of-the-art NFL offense, but observers online were making all sorts of jokes of their own about the coach’s vision, not to mention the seemingly odd movements of his head.
ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe, who covered Gase in Miami, tweeted that the coach’s expressions were “normal” for him. Wolfe added, “He’s an intense guy, but he’ll probably be more relaxed in less formal settings.”
Meanwhile, multiple Twitter accounts devoted to Gase’s “crazy eyes” were quickly springing up. One of them asserted, “I have never lost a single staring contest in my life.”
During a subsequent interview with a New York sports-radio show, the hosts began to mention something that struck them about Gase’s news conference and he interjected with, “The glare?” He went on to claim, in classic football-coach style, that he is barely on the Internet and didn’t even know what a “meme” was. But Gase’s possible awareness of his unusual expressions might explain why, on the Dolphins' sideline and when he addressed the media after their games, he often wore a baseball cap slung low over his face.
In any event, Gase can feel that in terms of making an impression as the Jets' head coach, he has nowhere to go but up — as long as he helps turn the woeful team around. Otherwise, he’ll be staring at the prospect of snarky comments about far more than his eyes.
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