It is past time for Adam Gase to show us, show Christopher Johnson, he can be the coach he was hired to be with much fanfare … the first Jets coach with previous head coaching experience since Bill Parcells, the first head coach with an offensive background since … cough, cough … Rich Kotite.
It is also time for Sam Darnold to remind us why the franchise was doing cartwheels when he was anointed the long-lost heir to the Joe Namath throne.
If he can.
Under these circumstances.
Under this head coach.
It’s the Jets’ Catch-14:
The third-year franchise quarterback needs his head coach/play-caller to help him take flight this season.
The head coach/play-caller needs his third-year franchise quarterback to take flight to keep his job.
Because right now, the Fire Gase mob is in a foul mood as the head coach and the third-year franchise quarterback will be celebrating their 16-game marriage together Sunday in Indianapolis.
“I feel like he’s progressing the right way,” Gase said on Monday.
Gase could have made that argument across the second half of last season.
Not this season.
Not at a time when Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury take flight in their second season together, when Josh Allen grows by leaps and bounds, when Gardner Minshew has thrown six touchdowns against two interceptions with a 75.4 completion percentage with 14 NFL starts, when Ryan Tannehill has thrown 28 TDs against six INTs in his 12 starts since separating from Gase and becoming the starter in Tennessee.
It is the only thing that Gase could say, considering his job depends so heavily on whether he can develop Darnold, and soon.
“There’s certain things where he’s doing a really good job of executing the offense, making adjustments when needed,” Gase said. “I think there’s some other things that we’ve gone away from to take some of the pressure off of him.”
It is true that Murray has DeAndre Hopkins and Darnold does not, and Allen has Stefon Diggs and Darnold does not. Hell, Darnold didn’t even have Jamison Crowder against the 49ers and he won’t have Breshad Perriman against the Colts. He did have tight ends Chris Herndon and Ryan Griffin, for whatever that was worth.
His teammates do believe in him.
“I gotta make sure that whoever’s in there making sure they understand their job, and what they’re doing on every play,” Darnold said. “And then for me, it’s just throwing the ball on time, throwing it accurately, and making sure that I continue to move the sticks and put the ball in the end zone.”
But Darnold looked more shell-shocked at times than he should have in Buffalo and he was forced to operate an offense in a play-not-to-lose shell against a 49ers defense without Richard Sherman, Dee Ford and for most of the game, Nick Bosa.
“It’s probably not fun for him to go through where he’s got a revolving door of wide receivers, and try to figure out who his guys are,” Gase said.
It’s not fun watching for the Fire Gase crowd, whose fears grow that he is inhibiting or worse, threatening to ruin, their third-year franchise quarterback.
Conceivably at some point, should 0-2 snowball, should Darnold be buried under an avalanche of incompetence and ineptitude, Johnson’s belief in Gase will no longer be unwavering, and he will no longer gaze at Gase and see the modern-day Bill Walsh, because that’s the way it seemed as recently as last week.
You also have to wonder, with the specter of Trevor Lawrence lurking, whether he would continue to see Darnold as his sterling quarterback.
Jets fans who didn’t like the hire like it less now; most Jets fans who were on the fence don’t like it right now.
Gase is under no playoff mandate, but his strongest lifeline right now is the support he has from the third-year franchise quarterback.
Johnson and GM Joe Douglas aren’t listening to the angry Fire Gase crowd, nor should they after two games, however horrific and disturbing they have been. All bets are off if and when they reach the conclusion that the growth of their third-year franchise quarterback is being stunted by the head coach/play-caller. Perhaps even for both of them.