It was a difficult opening day for Adam Gase, maybe more so than just a loss at Buffalo might be. The Jets' second-year head coach wasn't gloating or predicting, but he seemed to feel his team was genuinely coming together and showed growing chemistry, on offense and defense, on the O-line and in the secondary.
Certainly he was anticipating a more cohesive effort than the Jets' 27-17 loss to the Bills on Sunday.
"Complementary football was nonexistent throughout most of the game," Gase said. "We just did not really play well. It's disappointing in the aspect of watching the guys work all week and the excitement level coming into this game. And we've got a lot to work on, we've got a lot of things we've got to get fixed."
Gase and Sam Darnold detailed some of the problems the offense had here. The defense, meanwhile, had trouble reining in Josh Allen, who enjoyed the best passing day of his three-year career (33-of-46, 312 yards, 2 TDs) and led all rushers to boot (14 carries, 57 yards, TD). They did force Allen into two lost fumbles but gave a lot of yardage back by committing seven of the Jets' nine penalties for 81 of their 95 yards. Pierre Desir and Nate Hairston combined for three pass-coverage flags thrown on DBs while Quinnen Williams and Tarell Basham were hit with second-half roughing-the-passers.
"I've got to go back and watch this," he said of the flags thrown by referee Shawn Smith's crew. "It seemed like a lot of things that occurred in this game were preventable for sure."
Despite the postgame soul-searching, Gase was asked about, and offered, several positives for his team that should bolster them for Sunday's home opener against San Francisco and beyond. One of those pluses was the blitz-beating 69-yard TD pass connection from Darnold to Jamison Crowder.
"The touchdown was something that I was excited about," the coach said, "because Sam saw the pressure, he checked the play, and then we executed. That's what you want to have happen on those type of pressures. For that to happen in our first game when last year we just got lit up by all these teams bringing the house against us and we'd get 2 or 3 yards, to hit a big one like that on a quick throw, that was a good step for us."
And while Gase wasn't offering excuses for his offense, the unit did execute more efficiently in the second half, and maybe a little of that chemistry class over the past month or so of training camp was on display.
"Our guys at halftime were phenomenal," he said. "The offense had suggestions, 'Let's get on the ball, let's try to go to this, this and this.' Really good suggestions by the offensive line. The discussion in there of 'Hey, we've got to make every possession count.' That was a different feel to me with that group as far as, OK, these guys got a plan themselves before we even said anything. It was good to see how those guys were all working together."
Gase wasn't kidding himself though. He remains optimistic for the future yet realistic at what he saw in the opener of this COVID season of 2020.
"There's just so much for us to clean up," he said. "It was a rough game. We didn't play well enough. We've got to get a lot of things fixed in a short period of time."
See Best Images from the Season-Opening Matchup in Buffalo