Adam Gase, Luke Falk
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase had a rough day in Philadelphia. Still, the man isn’t close to the biggest problem in the building.

Robby Sabo

FLORHAM PARK, NJ—Mr. Adam Gase had a bad day. In his team’s disheartening 31-6 loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia, the New York Jets sideline boss couldn’t get anything going.

By the time the first quarter was in the books, the world understood, without Sam Darnold, the Jets had taken a vacation from legitimate NFL play.

Now, three days later, that’s all changed, we think. Young No. 14 is officially back and ready to roll when the Dallas Cowboys visit the swamps of North Jersey this Sunday.

Gase has no more excuses. While the offensive line still ranks as one of the worst units in franchise history, and the weapons can’t create any separation, with Darnold back, the Jets’ first-year head man must produce legitimate results.

But while the world looks to the future, it’s critical to understand the last three games paints a deceiving picture. Though an unpopular opinion, Gase isn’t close to the Jets’ biggest problem.

Don’t be confused: Gase deserves criticism. The handling of practice reps remains a questionable move.

One may argue even a one percent chance of Darnold playing deserves 100 percent of the first-team reps, as the alternate (Luke Falk receiving the lion share) would result in a loss regardless.

Practice reps aside, his actual choices on Sunday sound alarm bells.

Gase must understand his offensive line isn’t overpowering anybody, especially a Jim Schwartz-coached defense that’s aggressive by nature and will ramp it up even further against a poor Jets offense.

Therefore, deception is required. It’s the only shot to get Falk going. Gase, however, went power on the first two plays of the game, running an inside zone and counter with Le’Veon Bell.

Even tremendous offensive lines would have a difficult time paving the away against an eight-man box that aggressive.

It’s a constant battle. On one hand, Gase is looking to create 2nd-and-3rd-and-manageable for his young QB. On the other hand, due to the ramped-up, on-their-toes defenses their facing, it’s a losing battle. It’s especially a losing battle when realizing the O-line doesn’t hold up against pressure and the weapons don’t create separation downfield. How can the offense produce big chunks on run downs?

And the worst part about it is, in reality, the personnel is so bad his team has a better shot of winning if the offense just doesn’t screw it up.

Think about the Philly game. Fourteen points can be directly attributed to Falk and the offense. The pick-six and second turnover led to Eagles scores. A Gregg Williams defense performing well meshed with a three-and-out offense actually yields a better percentage chance of victory.

It’s sad, but so true.

On 3rd-down, on the first drive, a double-move concept on both sidelines is completely shut down by the Cover 3 look.

At the very least, Falk has to use the silent countdown and understand the ball needs to be released. Falk must hit Ryan Griffin short of the first time and hope for the best.

Additionally, Brian Winters just can’t get beat like that. Falk could have stepped up, but the kid just isn’t there yet at this level. Neither point can be blamed on the head coach.

Next, Gase dials up the perfect call against a six-man rush: the wide receiver screen.

It’s perfect due to the idea Schwartz brought pressure. Naturally, there will be free runners to deal with. It’s a case in which Falk needs to abandon the play-action quicker and get it out to Robby Anderson as soon as possible. If he gets it done, it could pop for a big one.

It’s a tough play for a quarterback, but Falk has to make it. Whether he abandons the play-action or uses another arm angle, he has to get the ball out quick, and if he does, it’s at least a first down.

The spot Gase really missed the boat in this one is when a 3rd-and-1 opportunity presented itself.

Again, deception is the key. Understanding the Eagles defense would be ready to roll on 3rd-and-short, Gase needed to use the eventual 4th-and-2 play on 3rd-and-1.

The jet-sweep play-action would have been the perfect call on 3rd-and-short. Gase needed to flip-flop the two plays. Fool the defense rather than imposing your will.

Sometimes, a nod to taking what the defense is giving your offense is a more impactful play-calling strategy than showcasing stubbornness.

Of course, everybody understands Falk isn’t ready for NFL starting-caliber play. And everybody knows this offensive line is one of the worst in the league. For that, it’s literally impossible to judge Gase on the first quarter of the 2019 season.

The personnel, the infrastructure left by Mike Maccagnan is as alarming as anything this organization has witnessed throughout their many decades of existence. (And yes, this offensive line was just as bad a year ago, ranking dead last in adjusted yards per scrimmage via Football Outsiders.) The only difference now is the entire fanbase understands just how much Darnold masks the issue.

Gase shouldn’t be taken off the hook, but when his quarterback is missing wide open comebacks and his right tackle is allowing easy pressure, what’s a head coach to do?

Falk has to hit Anderson on this one. Edoga has to get the job done. There’s no coaching point that can make up for a severe lack of talent, which is exactly what’s witnessed on this particular play.

It’s not black and white and admittedly frustrating to read both ends of the argument. Sometimes, however, that’s exactly where reality lies.

Adam Gase had a bad day, but look at the film: he’s still nowhere near the main problem for the New York Jets.

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