For as great as New York City is, our sports franchises don’t necessarily live up to the city’s imperious standing. Sure, the New York Yankees are the pinnacle of success in baseball and the Giants have delivered victory on a handful of occasions over the last 30 years, but outside of those two franchises, New York Sports are generally a mess, particularly the New York Jets.
Let me try and illustrate to you how truly haphazard the New York Jets franchise is: not only am I a Jets fan, but I’m also a Mets fan — pure brutality, I know, thank god for Liverpool Football Club — and of those two self-parodies, the METS (!!!) are the more stable organization. THE NEW YORK METS. There is perhaps no greater indictment than being run worse than one of American sports’ most notoriously chaotic clubs.
It may sound strange — and don’t get me wrong, the Jets have always been the Jets — but they haven’t always been this wretched. Similar to the Mets, what’s made the Jets so calamitous in not their failures, but their proximity to success. The Mets living in the shadow of the Yankees and the Jets living in the shadow of the Patriots, a Patriots team shepherded by a now-legendary coach who left one organization to coach the other. “I resign as HC of the NYJ”.
Even still, interwoven with their regular penchant for disaster were, if fleeting, moments of success: Bill Parcells’ 1998 team, the Herman Edwards/Eric Mangini/Chad Pennington squads that were borderline regulars in the playoffs, and the Rex Ryan years, which represent a truly pathetic highpoint of my Jets fandom. I can live with the self-destruction as long as it leads to the occasional rebirth. But for the last decade, since they forced Rex Ryan out the door, there’s been no reawakening, no Phoenix rising from the ashes. Not only have the Jets not qualified for the postseason since Ryan traded coastal New York for Western New York, but the franchise has been steadily disintegrating ever since, culminating in the cancer that is Adam Gase.
Far from being a football guy, even I can tell that Adam Gase lacks the one thing all competent head coaches need: the ability to lead. Forget about X’s and O’s for a second, do you have the ability to inspire? The ability to demand respect? To command fear? To earn the loyalty of grown men? From the alienation of his best players to his comically cold interactions with the media, Adam Gase is simply not a leader.
Ironically and predictably enough, Gase’s sabotaging ways are occurring at a rare moment in New York Jets history: a moment where they have a truly special talent at the one position that matters, the quarterback position. When it comes to Sam Darnold, never in my life have I seen football pundits so in unison with their analysis of a New York Jets player. The words “Darnold” and “superstar” have been mentioned in the same breath more times than any other Jets player in my lifetime combined. Finally, the Jets have the right player in the right position, and yet his three-year-career has been defined by regression thanks to the tutelage of Adam Gase.
What makes the Gase era so fascinating is that it actually isn’t entirely his fault. It’s not Adam’s fault he’s inadequate, I’m sure the lad is trying his hardest. No, the genesis of the blame can be found where it always is when it comes to dysfunctional sports franchises: at the top with the ownership.
No matter the talent they draft nor the coach they hire, so long as the Johnson family is in charge. Just last week, following their Week 1 capitulation against the Buffalo Bills, Jets CEO and chairman Christopher Johnson called Gase a “brilliant offensive mind.” While I’m in no mood to do a deep dive on the garbage statistics that Gase’s teams have been churning out, as someone who’s watched every game of his tenure, I can promise you the Jets have never ranked anywhere above 28th or 29th offensively.
Perhaps worst of all — when accounting for all of their sins — is the fact that Jets fans are now letting rooting for the antithesis of what sports are about: losing. And that’s the case when it comes to Adam Gase — we can only hope things get so disastrous, so miserable, and so hopeless that he’s fired before the end of the season. As they say, when you’re going through hell, keep going. When your coach is a loser, keep losing.