The Case Against Gase

The New York Jets recently named Adam Gase the 21st Head Coach in franchise history. This move was met with mixed emotions by fans and the media. There was talk of the hire giving Jets’ fans hope, and some went as far as to call the hire brilliant, but Jets’ fans were a little less optimistic if you scrolled through Twitter. That’s not to say all Jets’ fans were down on the hire, and many think it was an excellent move to help sophomore signal caller Sam Darnold develop. Gase is thought of as a quarterback-whisperer and an up-and-coming offensive mind, but does his track record back that up? More importantly, how will this impact the fantasy potential of Jets players going forward?

The Manning Effect

Adam Gase has been an offensive assistant, quarterback coach, offensive coordinator, or head coach in the NFL for 12 of the last 14 seasons. In 2012, 2013, and 2014, respectively, Gase had the good fortune of being the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator for arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, Peyton Manning. In three seasons with Manning and Gase, the Denver Broncos ranked fourth, first, and fourth in total offense. The Broncos’ passing offense finished fifth, first, and fourth as well, while their scoring ranked second, first, and second. Based on those three seasons, anyone can see the potential for excitement over the Gase hire.

However, I’m not about to give him credit for that success. Anyone who has watched football over the last decade knows that Peyton Manning is his own QB coach and OC. Even if Gase technically was calling plays, the popularity of Manning’s infamous “Omaha!” audible call tells you how often he was changing plays at the line of scrimmage. As a result, when I looked into Gase’s numbers, I’m not including the three seasons he played with Manning because he was only the “coach” or “coordinator” in title.

Now that we’ve got that pesky Peyton Manning business out of the way, let’s take a look at the offenses Gase had a hand in without the help of a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Offensive Mastermind?

The Motor City

During the 2005 and 2006 seasons, Gase was the Detroit Lions’ offensive assistant. In ‘05 the Lions’ quarterbacks were a mix of Joey Harrington and Jeff Garcia, and in ‘06 the Lions had Jon Kitna as their starter. Harrington was a bust, and Garcia was in the twilight of his career. But Kitna was still a serviceable NFL starting quarterback and was under center for the Lions in 2007 as well when Gase was promoted to quarterback coach. During his three-year tenure in the Motor City, Gase’s Lions teams finished 27th, 22nd, and 19th in total offense and 28th, 21st, and 16th in points scored. Kitna had two solid seasons in 2006 and 2007, but they were at best his third and fourth best seasons out of his 14-year career.

San Francisco

In 2008, Gase went to San Francisco to become their offensive assistant. In the interest of fairness, if I’m not going to give him credit for the Manning years, it’s hard to give him credit for this season with Shaun Hill and J.T. O’Sullivan at quarterback. However, for the sake of argument, that Niners team was 23rd in total offense, 13th in passing offense, and 22nd in points scored. One thing of note, J.T. O’Sullivan was on the 2007 Lions squad under Gase’s tutelage, so this was his second year under Gase.

Mile High Hype

Gase moved on to Denver in 2009, where he was the wide receiver coach for two seasons before becoming the QB coach in 2011. That 2011 season, Gase had Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton under center. The Tebow/Orton duo finished the season 23rd in total offense, 31st in passing offense, and 25th in scoring offense. That is not flattering, and it’s easy to see why Denver made the move to acquire Manning for 2012.

The Windy City

After the Manning years, Adam Gase moved on to become the Chicago Bears Offensive coordinator in 2015. There has been a strange narrative that Jay Cutler excelled under Gase while in Chicago. In 2015, the Bears finished 21st in total offense, 23rd in passing offense, and 23rd in scoring offense. Not good, not good at all. But, what about Smokin’ Jay Cutler and his breakout under Adam Gase? It never happened. In 2015, Jay Cutler completed 311 or 483 passes, good for a 64% completion rate and 3,659 yards. He also tossed 21 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions that season as well.

On paper, those are decent numbers but was Gase the “Cutler-whisperer” that he’s been made out to be? Nope. In the prior season under Aaron Kromer, Cutler completed 370 passes on 561 attempts for a 66% completion rate and 3,859 yards with 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. I don’t see anyone calling for Aaron Kromer to be a head coach.

Big Man on Campus

Somehow, Gase managed to land a head coaching gig in 2016 with the Miami Dolphins. All the talk was how he could impact the underperforming Ryan Tannehill. After Tannehill’s rookie season in 2012, he saw his yards per game average climb year after year, averaging 245 yards per game (YPG) in 2013, 253 YPG in 2014, and 263 YPG in 2015.

Enter Gase, who came in to unlock Tannehill’s potential, only to see Tannehill regress and average just 230 yards per game. After missing all of 2017, Tannehill returned in 2018 under Gase and averaged 179 yards per game. Yuck. On a per game basis, Tannehill got statistically worse across the board with Gase at the helm. Yards per game? Worse. Touchdowns per game? Worse. Interceptions per game? Worse. The Dolphin teams under Gase finished 24th, 25th, and 31st in total offense in 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively. At the same time, the ‘Fins passing offense finished 26th, 18th, and 30th, while their scoring offense finished 17th, 28th, and 26th.

The Gase Norm

Those are awful numbers. Unfortunately, they’re also very consistent across Gase’s career. Omitting the Manning years, over the duration of Gase’s career as an NFL head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterback coach, and offensive assistant, on average, Gase’s teams finished 23rd in total offense, 20th in passing offense, and 22nd in scoring.

Looking back over his Manning-less career, Gase only had one season where his team finished inside the top-20 in total offense and only twice finished inside the top-20 in scoring offense. As far as passing offense, Gase’s best finish was back in 2006 when Jon Kitna and the Lions finished 7th during Gase’s second season in the NFL as an offensive assistant. Not an inspiring track record. It’s hard to remember anyone ever clamoring for the promotion of Jon Kitna’s quarterbacks’ coach.

Keepin’ it in the Division

Not very often do we see coaches move directly from job to job within the division. It happens occasionally, but it’s rare. Up close and personal, The Jets ownership must have seen something from Adam Gase during the duration of his coaching career to make them think he was “the guy” right? Gase was 10-8 as the Dolphins coach within the AFC East; however, he was 5-1 against The Jets. Which means over the last three years, he was 5-7 against teams he’ll face twice a year for the foreseeable future.

Throughout his NFL career, Gase amassed an 18-18 record facing AFC teams as a head coach, offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach. Oddly enough, the only team he was beating was the Jets! Gase has gone 8-2 facing the Jets since 2005, leaving his record against all other AFC East foes at 10-16. He’s never been able to consistently beat any AFC East teams, except for, ya know, The Jets.

A People Person?

With a statistical history that leaves a lot to be desired, certainly, Gase must be a powerful motivator who is popular in the locker room, right? Wrong. While Adam Gase has supporters who think he’ll do well in New York with Sam Darnold, his history doesn’t suggest that will be the case.

Gase has had public feuds with many players, and several were not shy on social media after he was fired. Jay Ajayi and Adam Gase seemed to have a mutual dislike for one another while in Miami. If you read between the lines throughout the years, 2016 third-round pick Leonte Carroo and Gase didn’t see eye to eye either. Subsequently, Carroo was cut to start the 2018 season. Running back Kenyan Drake was inexplicably benched during the season by Gase and even the Dolphins media was puzzled by Drake’s usage at times.

The Dolphins 2015 first-round pick, DeVante Parker had a long history of conflict with Gase in Miami. His agent even called Gase out publicly back in October. Although Parker tried to smooth things over afterward, I believe it was a PR move to keep the prickly Gase off of his back, especially since Parker didn’t fire his agent. You might file this one under “rookie motivational tools,” but Gase very publicly supported Ryan Tannehill after he kicked Kalen Ballage out of a huddle during an August practice. Much like other odd, inopportune benchings, and misuse of players, Kalen Ballage was not immune to Gase’s whims.

Dealing with Stars

But wait, there’s more. Arguably, the Dolphins’ best player during Gase’s tenure in Miami was Jarvis Landry, who readily admitted he had a strained relationship with Gase in an ESPN story.

He wonders — well, he knows — that his strained relationship with coach Adam Gase didn’t help. (Gase, through the Dolphins’ public relations department, declined to be interviewed for this story.) They’re too much alike, Landry says now — two overly competitive people who wanted the same things but inevitably rubbed each other the wrong way. Like when the offense struggled and Landry put in his two cents on what they could do differently, it probably sounded like a player telling his coach what to do. But Landry only did it, he says, because he wanted to win.

“I used to talk to him about it,” Landry says. “Can I be more of a leader? Can I stay after practice more? I’m trying to literally figure out what I can do to help us win, to help him understand that he could trust me. “He wanted me to trust him, but he really didn’t want to trust me.”

“There was a joke, Landry says, that Gase used to tell his players. If a guy got in his doghouse, he’d tell the player to straighten up or he’d ship him to Cleveland. The joke, according to Landry, is in reference to the infamous Jamie Collins trade. On Halloween day in 2016, Collins, a talented New England Patriots linebacker who drew coach Bill Belichick’s ire, was sent from a Super Bowl team to a Browns squad that won one game in 2016.
“I just felt like, for some reason, Adam sent me here to die,” Landry says.”

According to Sports Illustrated, “Landry said he frequently asked Gase for a more expansive route tree. “When I’d go to talk to [Gase] about it, he’d curse me out,” Landry said. “’Why are you telling me how to do my job?’ It got to the point where the environment was just awful.”

There are stories across the internet detailing a multitude of conflicts between Landry and Gase, but don’t let the “telling me how to do my job” thing, in particular, escape your memory, we’ll come back to that. Safety Reshad Jones was so frustrated that he pulled himself out of a game in the first quarter last season, and although they cleared the air, Gase himself said issues remained between them. 2015 second round pick, Jordan Phillips was released by the Dolphins in October, and Gase was surprisingly tight-lipped about it at the time. Fast forward two months and Phillips let it be known he didn’t feel respected by Gase when he was a Dolphin. Last, and certainly not least, was Gase’s ongoing conflicts with Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross. Gase went so far as yelling at Ross regarding knowing more about football than him. Kind of reminiscent of the “don’t tell me how to do my job” thing, no?

Going Forward

This is the new coach of a young New York Jets team. Does he have the personality and demeanor to watch over Sam Darnold? If it was just a single player, maybe even two or three, you might be able to chalk it up to the randomness of players not liking a coach. But with no fewer than nine players being involved in very public conflicts – plus the team owner –  it’s hard not to point the finger in only one direction. All your bad relationships have one thing in common – you!

With the Jets going into 2018 with the league’s 13th oldest roster, they’re going to need to make a youth movement, and it’s hard to imagine a team of young players responding to Gase’s management style. His teams haven’t performed on offense, and as a result, he hasn’t produced top-end fantasy performers either. As long as he’s calling the shots in the Big Apple, it’s selling season for all Jets players, unless you think Sam Darnold is the next Peyton Manning.


Chicagoan living in Las Vegas. Fantasy Football writer & Director of In-Season Analysis for Dynasty Football Factory, blogger for USFantasy and contributor to TheFakeHockey. Member FSWA.

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