Another year, another group of coaching changes in the NFL. We had eight head coaches lose or vacate their positions, so there are eight new faces – some fresh, some not so much.
Everybody loves to talk about the new head coaches, but it often stops there. I believe that by paying closer attention, we can better evaluate how the entire staff is constituted, which can help breed fantasy success.
In this fourth year of writing about coaching changes and their dynasty impact, I’m adding a new wrinkle. We’re going to release them this year in ranked order, starting at the bottom. And before you get too offended, maybe all eight of these hires will have long, illustrious careers. Who knows? Let’s get to it.
Coaching Hire Rank Two of Eight – Adam Gase, New York Jets
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I know, I know. It’s tough to imagine. “Are you seriously ranking googly-eyes Gase as the second best hire this past season?” Well yes, yes I am. Adam Gase has been the butt of many jokes this off-season, but the disparaging way people look at his coaching record has not been well-deserved.
Let’s start by talking about the elephant in the room, his three years as the Miami Dolphins head coach. It’s easy to forget now, but Gase came into that job as one of the hottest names in coaching searches. He had successful runs in both Denver and Chicago, and Gase translated that success into the head coaching job in Miami.
Gase took over a Dolphins team that won a whopping six games the year before. The team started slow, but finished the season 10-6 before losing in the playoffs to the Steelers. They followed up that first season by losing their starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill before the first snap and had to turn to Jay Cutler. Gase’s final act in 2018 saw a team ravaged by injuries that still managed to stay competitive much longer than they rightfully should have.
I realize it’s easy to look at Gase and his silly press conference and label him a bad head coach. But I would posit that the situation in Miami was awful from the top down. Gase inherited a team with a problematic “me first” culture, a middling starting QB who couldn’t stay healthy, and a general manager who makes poor personnel choices. The fact Gase led that team to the playoffs is a straight up miracle. Let’s not forget that Gase had a very positive profile after helping lead a fantastic offense in Denver and following that up by turning the Chicago offense under Jay Cutler into something relevant. Gase was once thought as one of the best young offensive minds in the game, and now he gets a second shot on a team with some actual talent.
Like many new head coaches, Gase will likely keep calling the plays, but he brought in Dowell Loggains as his offensive coordinator, who has worked with Gase for some time. It will help with the transition both for Gase and for the transition the team will have to go through. Gase and Loggains know what they need from their offense. Is Loggains some offensive mastermind? No, but he has experience, and that’s also very important. Like the offensive line, I believe that sometimes consistency is a factor too often overlooked.
As for the defensive side of the ball, they went with success and experience. Imagine that? Gregg Williams will run the defense for the Jets after being passed over for the top job in Cleveland. Now I don’t like Gregg Williams the person, but I love Gregg Williams the defensive coordinator. He has had great success at a number of stops, and I expect no less here – especially since the Jets have a good deal of talent on defense and just signed CJ Mosley.
The Jets are set at quarterback for the time being after drafting Sam Darnold with the third overall pick in 2018. If you look at the rookie QBs who got significant starts last year, Darnold was arguably the second best of the bunch. It’s hard to top what Baker Mayfield did, but he was the first overall pick, so by that measure he should have been better.
Darnold passed for over 2,800 yards and had 17 touchdowns against 15 picks. That’s not an amazing ratio, but not bad either. Darnold also went without an interception in the last three games of the season, possibly a sign of growth. Gase has worked with both very good (Peyton Manning – and the Broncos set league and franchise records under the Manning/Gase duo) and very bad (Ryan Tannehill) quarterbacks, and he’s had success with both. Here’s hoping he can help Darnold put it together.
The running game should help Darnold out as well, as this year he’ll have a certain Le’Veon Bell to help shoulder the load. (Millions of Elijah McGuire owners just cried out. Are there millions?) I still love Bell and look for a big year from him. Nobody reads the line like Bell, and I think the year off will really help him. Many were worried about his massive workload, but he is now a year removed from that. You can still roster McGuire or Trenton Cannon if you like, but Bell is the, well, Bellcow. I can’t wait to see what he does in a new uni.
Wide receiver is quite a bit dicier for the Jets. The perpetually undervalued Robby Anderson is still around, and he’s still undervalued so likely available. The new Bell-led backfield is likely to help the whole receiving corps in New York. Quincy Enunwa is still in town, and the Jets also signed a pair of new players in Jamison Crowder and Josh Bellamy. Gase’s offense (like many modern offenses) often runs through the slot receiver, so keep that in mind and give Crowder some extra consideration. The last player worth mentioning is Charone Peake, but that might be a stretch. He’s still young!
Chris Herndon is one of the sleeper tight ends a lot of smart owners are targeting. And maybe some not-so-smart owners as well. Tight ends were featured under Gase in both Denver and Chicago, but they didn’t get the same play in Miami. But that could be a “chicken or egg” question: were the tight ends in Miami not up to snuff? It’s hard to know for sure. In any case, past the top three or so tight ends Herndon is as good a shot as anyone.
The Bottom Line
Quite often in both ‘real’ football and the fantasy variety, we can fall victim to narratives. The narrative from many this off-season is that Adam Gase is a bad football coach due to the past two years in Miami. His Mad-Eye Moody press conference helped solidify that narrative for many, but I think it’s too soon to give up on Gase.
I know it’s frustrating the way he handled Kenyan Drake and other aspects, but that does not make him a bad coach. He did great things with Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler and Ryan Tannehill. While Sam Darnold probably doesn’t measure up to the Manning level, I’m sure he has the talent to be better than both Cutler and Tanny. And in an era where many teams are going with young, unproven names at coordinator and even at head coach, the Jets went with someone who has head coaching experience, a great offensive background, and even gave him experienced coordinators.
Bash Gase all you want, I’ll be busy picking up Jets on the cheap.