The New York Jets offense has spent most of this decade at the bottom of the league. That’s going to change this year. Led by an innovative offensive mind, a young QB ready to break out and strong skill position players, the Jets offense will soar to new heights in 2019.
The New York Jets got hammered by most fans and many in the media for their hiring of Adam Gase. He possesses a losing record as a head coach and failed to turn Ryan Tannehill into a franchise QB. That was enough for many so-called pundits to claim Gase didn’t deserve another shot (at least so soon).
Those takes were unfair at the time and Gase has done a great job of slowly wiping away that image since he’s come to New Jersey. Gase has already earned the respect of the Jets wide receiving core, something Jeremy Bates failed to do last year. More importantly, he and Sam Darnold have hit it off, and seem like a match made in heaven.
Gase’s offense is centered around quick and intermediate passing that force defensive backs to play closer to their man at the line of scrimmage. He combines that with a heavy zone-rushing scheme dose, at least when he has a back who can handle a heavy workload, which forces the safeties closer to the box.
Once that happens, Gase takes shots down the field. it’s the perfect offense for the Jets, for multiple reasons.
Darnold thrived on intermediate passing last year. Chris Herndon and Robby Anderson found that out first hand. So, Gase’s offense that focuses so heavily on those passes is a perfect match for Darnold’s skill set. He didn’t get the chance to show it off in his first drive Thursday, but he did show off another skill: his improvisation.
Firstly, Darnold’s first completion of the day saw the pocket collapse. Sam found a lane to escape through and found Herndon who had broken free for a 32-yard gain. That’s what makes Sam special. His ability to succeed when the play breaks down is simply magical. He did multiple times last year, and it means that a play is never dead. Sam’s pass-catchers know that and are always fighting to get open. Sam’s improvisational ability makes the Jets offense that much more unpredictable and difficult to prepare for.
Secondly, Gase loves his slot receivers and the Jets have a good one. Jamison Crowder was slowed down by a foot injury last season and didn’t have the best quarterback play after Alex Smith’s injury. Don’t let his numbers from last year fool you, he’s one of the best slot receivers in the NFL and Gase loves those shift guys in the slot.
Last year, before he went down due to injury, Albert Wilson was putting together a career-year for the Dolphins. In 2013 when Peyton Manning and the Broncos set NFL records left and right Gase squeezed all he could out of an aging Wes Welker. Welker tallied 778 yards that year and set a career-high with 10 TDs. Not to mention the career years that Jarvis Landry had with Gase.
Thursday, Crowder showed up twice once for a score and once for a big 28-yard gain. In fact, the Jets used three slot receivers last night, Crowder, Deontay Burnett and Greg Dortch, and they combined for 10 receptions, 63 yards and two TDs. Gase’s reliance on the slot position is already evident.
Thirdly, Gase doesn’t go to the deep ball well often, but when he does, it’s almost always effective. Robby Anderson will take the role in Gase’s offense that Kenny Stills had in for the Dolphins. In his three years before Gase got to Miami, Stills averaged 41 receptions, 670 yards and four TDs per season. In his three years with Gase, Stills averaged 46 receptions, for 709 yards and seven TDs.
Two things stick out with these numbers: Stills caught the ball more, but his average yards per reception was down, meaning he was catching less deep balls than before Gase got there. Still, Stills was averaging three more TDs a season. Why is that? It’s simple: Gase made Stills a more well-rounded receiver and knew when to take the deep shot, and when he did Still’s took advantage and put the ball in the end zone.
Gase now gets to do something similar with Anderson this year, and Robby is a more talented receiver than Stills. Robby may not have the breakout 1,000-yard season some expect, but he will be more well rounded and overall a more versatile weapon than in years past, and he’ll have that deadly deep ball in his pocket when it’s appropriate.
Lastly, Gase gets to use his running backs in the passing game again. In Miami, Gase had Jay Ajayi and Frank Gore as his lead backs. Yes, he had Kenyon Drake, but he was never an every-down back. When he did have a back who could be useful out of the backfield, though, he used him. The last time that happened was with Knowshon Moreno. In 2013, Moreno had 548 yards receiving and three TDs, both of those were career highs. Now, Gase has two of the most dangerous receiving backs in football.
Le’Veon Bell is the best receiving back in football and has easily earned that title with his play. Bell has had over 600 yards receiving in three of his five seasons in the NFL, which includes his 2017 and 2016 campaigns.
Gase will also get the joy of using Ty Montgomery in the offense. The former WR turned RB Montgomery boasts wideout hands and route-running ability, and will be covered by linebackers and safeties. He is just another weapon among many in the Jets revamped offense in 2019.
The Jets have revamped their offensive line this offseason. They brought in two interior linemen who have a long history of being good run blockers. Kelechi Osemele and Ryan Kalil are here to help turn the Jets league-worst run-blocking unit from last year into at least an average unit. Doing that, alone, combined with the addition of Bell, should turn the Jets rushing attack into one of the better ones in the league.
Another factor is the coaching, both from Gase and Jets new offensive line coach Frank Pollack. The latter was the mastermind behind the dominant Cowboys offensive lines that allowed DeMarco Murray to lead the league in rushing. In seven seasons this decade, Pollack has coached his offensive line to a top-10 finish in adjusted-line yards. This was an incredibly smart hire by Gase and should play a big role in the success of the Jets run game.
As for Gase, he has been mostly good for running games. Since becoming the offensive coordinator in Denver in 2013 Gase has had four years where his rushing offense was ranked in the top half of the league in DVOA. That includes three years where they ranked top 10 in the league. 2017 was the only year where Gase had what anyone would call a bad rushing offense. In 2017, the Dolphins rushing offense ranked 31st in DVOA. That was the year that Gase had Jay Cutler as his starting QB, and traded Jay Ajayi mid-season.
The run game will be a major part of the Jets offense this year. Gase isn’t the kind of guy who establishes the run to open up the passing game like Jeremy Bates. He’s the opposite; Gase loves to throw the ball. He wants to keep defenses on their toes and provided a taste of that Thursday. The Jets threw the ball 38 times and ran it 24 times. On first down, Gase called 10 runs and 18 passes last night. Those numbers are tilted because of the second half when Gase threw the ball more. In the first half, Gase called seven runs and six passes. Gase’s unpredictable play calling should open up the run game in a way that wasn’t there last year with Jeremy Bates calling plays.
The biggest difference between this year and last year is Le’Veon Bell. Bell may not have played last year, but he is still one of the best backs in the NFL. How Gase uses him and how effective he is will rely a lot on how the offensive line looks. Regardless, Bell will force teams to respect the Jets run game. Gase has only had one other All-Pro RB since 2013, and that was Frank Gore last year over a decade since he was an All-Pro. Gase has never had talent at RB like Le’Veon, so there really is no precedent for how Gase will utilize him in his offense. The closest is likely how he used Moreno in 2013 when he had over 1,000 rushing yards and over 500 receiving yards. If that’s the case, then Bell is in for a huge.
The names are all recognizable, the offensive line is improved and the young franchise quarterback is in place. Adam Gase should be the ingredient that puts it all together in a tidy way this coming season.