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As the final seconds ticked off of the Gillette Stadium scoreboard on Sunday, it was not just counting down the end of a 28-14 Jets loss to the Patriots. It was also counting down the final seconds of Adam Gase’s time with the team and to the beginning of an offseason that could feature massive change for the organization.
Gase was fired Sunday night, the team announced, hours after the loss that left the Jets 2-14 this season, the worst record for the team since 1996. In Gase’s two years, the Jets went 9-23, featured the worst offense in football and looked noncompetitive for long stretches.
The Jets looked like they had a chance at ending Gase’s time with the them with a three-game winning streak, clinging to a 14-7 lead over the Patriots in the third quarter, but two Sam Darnold interceptions paved the way to a second-half surge from Cam Newton and Bill Belichick and the Jets were handed their 14th loss of the season.
“It just wasn’t good enough, obviously,” Gase said of the season.
Not even close.
“While my sincere intentions are to have stability in our organization – especially in our leadership positions – it is clear the best decision for the Jets is to move in a different direction,” CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement.
The Jets had high hopes when they hired Gase two years ago to replace Todd Bowles. They believed he would be the offensive mind that would bring out Darnold’s potential and make the Jets contenders again. Instead, Darnold regressed this season and there are questions about whether the Jets should draft his replacement with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft.
The Jets now own the longest active playoff drought in the NFL. It has been 10 years since they played in the postseason; the Browns ended a 17-year drought Sunday by qualifying for the playoffs.
Gase had little to say about his future after the game, saying he expected to meet with team CEO and chairman Christopher Johnson late Sunday night or early Monday.
“I’m not going to predict anything,” Gase said.
The writing has been on the wall for weeks.
After going 7-9 in his first year, the Jets opened this season with 13 straight losses, the longest losing streak in franchise history. It was a tailspin that Gase could not recover from. Gase gave up most of the play-calling, but nothing helped. The Jets ended up winning two games in December to save some face and cost themselves the No. 1 draft pick, infuriating their fan base. The Jets defense allowed a franchise-record 457 points. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was fired last month after a last-second loss to the Raiders.
Along the way, Gase and running back Le’Veon Bell could not get on the same page and Bell was released in October. Before the season started, safety Jamal Adams ripped Gase before the team traded Adams to the Seahawks.
The most damning development for Gase was Darnold’s play. The third-year quarterback played terribly for most of the year. Darnold ended the season with nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions and a dismal quarterback rating of 72.7.
The 23-year-old Darnold was asked about Gase’s future after the loss Sunday.
“That’s not my decision,” Darnold said. “I love Adam, love him as a coach, but it’s not my decision.”
Darnold did take blame for the way this season went.
“I definitely didn’t play well this year,” Darnold said. “I think there were really only the two games that we won. I think I can definitely play better in the future. I don’t think I played well enough this year. I wasn’t consistent enough. That’s really it.”
Gase also expressed disappointment in how things went with Darnold.
“It definitely wasn’t what he thought, what I thought,” Gase said. “I know we had some adversity to overcome. I’m sure when we look back at it there will be things we wished we would have done different. But this is where we’re at right now and it wasn’t good enough.”
Gase’s .281 winning percentage is the third worst in Jets history. Only Lou Holtz (.231) and Rich Kotite (.125) were worse among full-time Jets coaches.
The Jets will surely now begin a coaching search that is expected to be wide-ranging and led by general manager Joe Douglas. Top candidates — including Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale, Iowa State coach Matt Campbell and Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll — are expected to get a look from the Jets.
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