It's not too often you see a fired head coach get hired by another team in the same offseason. It's even more rare to see him stay within the same division.
But the Jets took a chance, landing ex-Dolphins coach Adam Gase just days after he departed division-rival Miami. It keeps him in the AFC East, where he finished 2-4 against the Patriots and 3-3 against the Bills -- and 5-1 against the Jets.
Not long ago, Gase was considered one of the brightest offensive minds in football. That's what got him hired with the Dolphins in the first place. But at no point in Miami did Gase get to pick his own quarterback, opting to co-sign on Ryan Tannehill. And Gase obviously wasn't the guy who picked Sam Darnold, but the promising second-year player is easily the most talented quarterback to work with Gase since he helped Peyton Manning five years ago. It should make for an interesting union. But perhaps not as interesting as the one between Gase and Le'Veon Bell, who was signed this offseason. Much was made of the large contract Bell got and whether or not Gase -- who in Miami developed a track record of being fickle with his running backs -- really even wanted him. Regardless, Bell will be Gase's top running back after he sulked at home in 2018 over a contract dispute with the Steelers.
Here's a look at what to expect from Gase based on his tendencies from his past six years of playcalling in Denver (2013-14), Chicago (2015) and Miami (2016-18).
Aside from 2017, when Gase brought in Jay Cutler to replace an injured Ryan Tannehill, we've actually seen a consistent, not-too-aggressive play-calling approach. Gase has definitely featured passing over rushing, right to the brink of the 60-40 ratio that might constitute a pass-heavy notion.
What might push Gase over the edge in New York is the ability and efficiency of Sam Darnold mixed with Bell's pass-catching prowess. Darnold finished last year strong, completing 64 percent of his passes at 7.5 yards per attempt with a 6-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his final four games. Bell has routinely been a receiving standout. If both get a grip on Gase's playbook and develop chemistry, there's a very good chance the Jets throw more than 60 percent of the time. Darnold is a Fantasy sleeper if you were so inclined to take two quarterbacks.
Running back runs per game
It's hard to be encouraged by the frequency Gase's backs were fed. True, he called more runs in 2018 compared to 2017, but it didn't mean a rise in work for his backs because his Dolphins had fewer plays. Gase also manufactured one rusher with over 750 rush yards in Miami (Jay Ajayi, 1,272 in 2016) and two 1,000-rushing-yard backs in six years of play-calling (Ajayi and Knowshon Moreno, 1,038 in 2013).
Obviously that's not a good sign for Bell, who averaged 19.8 carries per game with the Steelers. Gase's backs in Miami totaled 12 games with 20-plus carries in three seasons. We can point to Bell's first-class pedigree all we want, but Gase's habits are clear and he has a young, potent quarterback to ride.
Fortunately, there's still reason for optimism with Bell.
We're always looking for play-callers who get their backs over 20 percent or more of their team's total receptions. I know it looks like Gase has hit that mark, but it's mainly because his running backs hauled in 26.4 percent of the Dolphins' receptions in 2018. The next closest year? That would be 2015 when Matt Forte caught 21 percent of the Bears' receptions. If you take out 2018, Gase's career numbers look more like this:
You might assess this to mean that running backs are involved, but not necessarily to great lengths. Only Drake and Moreno topped 50 catches under Gase in his six years of dialing up plays, but both were/are shifty backs with good hands.
And Bell is better than both of them. He'll have way more than 50. He might have 100.
With the Steelers, Bell averaged over 40 yards, five catches and 6.4 targets per game. Clearly, one of his biggest strengths is making plays through the air. When considering that, the Jets quarterback and messy offensive line, it's not exactly a reach to think Bell's best usage will come via the pass.
So even if Bell misses the mark of 20 carries per game, expect a minimum of five receptions per to make up for it. It makes Bell far more appealing in PPR formats.
Wish I could be more optimistic about Gase's tight ends. With the Broncos in 2013 (Julius Thomas) and Bears in 2015 (Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller), Gase utilized the tight end position fine. Otherwise, he's schemed away from the position, including in 2014 when he didn't draw up plays for Thomas in Denver a year after his break out. And Thomas had back-to-back 12-touchdown seasons!
Plenty of coaches smarten up and lean on great talent regardless of what position they play. Gase seems to be no different. Chris Herndon would be a breakout candidate if he wasn't suspended to start the season, or if he didn't share the field with so many other short-area targets. Herndon will ultimately be a streamer.
The silver lining to this news is that receivers have long been a massive staple in Gase's offense. The slot in particular has been huge. Jarvis Landry was a volume-dependent Fantasy hero in Miami, replaced by Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson in 2018 (85-966-5 combined). Kenny Stills also had plenty of big games in three years with the Fins. Chicago didn't have much in the way of receivers to help the offense in 2015 but the Broncos made the most out of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2013 and 2014, though having Peyton Manning under center sure helped a lot.
The Jets' best receiver as of now is Robby Anderson, and you can be sure Gase will find ways to make him impactful. Talk already out of Jets camp is that Anderson's route tree has expanded, meaning he'll do more than run go routes. That's very good. It only helps Anderson that he's developed a rapport with Darnold. You'd love to have Anderson as your No. 3 receiver, but something tells me he'll be good enough to work as a No. 2. He's worth a top-60 pick.
As for that valuable slot role, Jamison Crowder signed on this offseason and has a steady track record of playing there. He's notched 59 receptions or more in his three seasons where he's played 15-plus games. Given Gase's track record, there's nothing wrong with spending a third-to-last pick on Crowder in PPR.