FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — One day after a strong public endorsement from ownership, New York Jets coach Adam Gase received another show of support from a voice that matters — quarterback Sam Darnold.
“If everything works out like it’s supposed to and Adam is here again, that would be absolutely amazing,” Darnold said Thursday. “Going into OTAs [next spring] and knowing the whole offense, and even being able to build off things we’ve already done this year, it will be incredible.”
CEO Christopher Johnson, who announced Wednesday that Gase will return in 2020 despite a 2-7 record and growing unrest among fans, said the coach-quarterback relationship is an important component in his commitment to Gase. He believes Gase is good for Darnold, and he doesn’t want to break them up.
Johnson said a recent conversation with Darnold reaffirmed his belief in Gase. Johnson added that “changing systems year after year is just a disaster, for a young quarterback especially.”
Darnold is 2-4 as the starter, and his passer rating (74.5) is actually lower than last season’s (77.6), raising questions about whether he’s regressing under Gase.
Johnson disputed that notion, claiming instability on the offensive line has affected Darnold. The quarterback also missed three games due to mononucleosis.
“I knew that Christopher was that confident in Coach Gase, so it didn’t come as a surprise to me,” Darnold said of Wednesday’s declaration. “For him to do that publicly, that’s awesome that he did it.
“I think it was definitely important for him to come out publicly and say it, but I also think most of the guys on the team, if not the whole team, already had that much confidence in Coach Gase and knew Christopher’s confidence in him.”
Gase, speaking to New York-area reporters for the first time since the endorsement, expressed his gratitude.
“To get his support, for him to see what we’re kind of trying to do, that’s an important step for us,” Gase said.
Gase, hired in January to replace Todd Bowles, got off to an awkward start because of a perceived power struggle with former general manager Mike Maccagnan, who was fired in May. Gase was instrumental in hiring Maccagnan’s replacement, Joe Douglas, a friend and ally.
Once the season began, Gase lost his first four games, including the three without Darnold. The Jets also suffered a rash of injuries, but that didn’t stop the fan base from turning on Gase, an offensive-minded coach whose offense is 32nd in total yards.
Since Darnold’s return, the Jets are 2-3. They face the Washington Redskins (1-8) on Sunday at FedEx Field.
Gase said he’s in constant communication with Johnson.
“Any conversation I’ve ever had with him has always been positive, about getting guys better and finding ways to win,” Gase said.
Gase’s job security became a hot issue after the team’s Week 9 loss to the previously winless Miami Dolphins. Three days later, Johnson told the team he had no plans to make a coaching move. The Jets responded with a 34-27 win over the New York Giants.
Gase insisted the speculation hasn’t created a distraction.
“[Not for anybody] in this building, but I can’t speak for the outside,” he said. “I’m closed in a little bit.”