Speaking on Sunday night, New York Jets head coach Adam Gase explained his process and thinking behind the Avery Williamson situation.
Speaking with media at the Green and White Scrimmage at MetLife Stadium, Gase spoke about the absence of starter Avery Williamson. The linebacker will miss the entire 2019 season with a torn ACL sustained in Thursday’s 22-10 preseason victory in Atlanta.
Williamson left Thursday’s game late in the second quarter. Gase admitted he had regrets about keeping Williamson in that long and accepted responsibility.
“I wish I would have gotten him out of there a series earlier but I’ve talked with him and it’s on me,” Gase said in transcripts provided by the team. “I’m the one that has to make that call and get him out of there but we didn’t and that’s a shame because he was having a good camp.”
Williamson was entering his second season with the Jets. He previously spent four seasons with the Tennessee Titans before inking a three-year, $22.5 million last offseason.
Gase revealed further details of his conversation with Williamson. He reported that the veteran was in good spirits despite his situation.
“He’s as positive as you can get right now,” Gase said. “I know it’s going to be some ups and downs but I told him we’re going to need him to help these young guys and we’re going to need him around the building, we’re going to need him around everybody and we talked about plan once he gets on his feet as far as what we want to do with him, with meetings and trying to help him keep learning as a football player.”
Part of the reason Williamson was left in so late, Gase explained, was to mentor fellow veteran Neville Hewitt in the MIKE linebacker spot. Hewitt is now one of several expected to step in Williamson’s exit. The former played a similar role in the latter stages of last year when the departed Darron Lee was lost to four games with a suspension in December.
“The thought process was getting Neville’s feet wet, as far as playing MIKE linebacker. He’s playing a different position,” the head coach said. “(We) wanted Avery to be in there because Neville would be with a guy that’s a starter and just looking back on it, hindsight is 20/20.”
In the same press conference, Gase announced that running back Le’Veon Bell would not play in either of the final two preseason games. Bell has not played in an NFL game since January 2018 after sitting out all of last season over a contract dispute.
Gase said that the Williamson situation was not a major factor when it came to the Bell decision.
“I was about 99% sure heading into the preseason. It was all based off of how he practiced, conditioning, all those type of things, we talked about it before we started,” Gase said. “I was about 99.9% sure what we were going to do, (the Williamson injury) probably made it 100%.”
While Bell and Williamson will not play on Saturday night at home against the New Orleans Saints (7:30 p.m. ET, WCBS), Gase was hopeful that Ryan Kalil would be able to make his Jets debut. The All-Pro center ended a brief retirement to join the Jets earlier this month.
“We’d love to get him in there for a series. We’ll kind of see how this week goes but that’s kind of the direction we’re heading,” he said. Kalil would go on to make his first appearance in a Jets practice during Sunday’s night’s activities.
When it came to other injured starters, Gase was again more optimistic. He said he “(didn’t) really have plans” for guards Kelechi Osemele (pectoral muscle) and Brian Winters (shoulder) to play, but he mentioned “(Osemele) looks like he’s going to start bugging me about going out to practice this week.” On tackle Brandon Shell (knee), Gase reported, “Everything looks to be okay.” He also said cornerback Trumaine Johnson (hamstring) will be “targeting that Week 1.”