Jets HC Adam Gase: Sam Darnold 'Wants To Be Challenged'

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It has been a week since the New York Jets introduced Adam Gase as their 19th head coach. In the days that followed, Gase completed a number of interviews including lengthy visits with ESPN Radio, ESPN New York, WFAN and Pro Football Talk.

Here are some highlights…

Getting Caught Up
During his appearance with PFT’s Mike Florio, Gase had an interesting take on the Jets personnel. For the past three years, he was studying tape of the Green & White’s defense. But now that he is the Jets’ offensive signal caller, he is catching up on tape of the offense.

“It’s a huge attraction because you already know the division. You know the team you just came from,” Gase said. “The thing that I’m actually trying to get caught up on is the actual offense of the team I’m with because I spent more time going against the defense. I’m trying to learn our offensive personnel here and the rest of the division — for the most part —I know well enough.”

Three-Way Facetime
Modern technology has made the coaching interview process easier. Gase discussed with Florio the three-way FaceTime call he shared with CEO and Chairman Christopher Johnson and second-year quarterback Sam Darnold.

“You could see there was a great energy about him to where he loves this game, he has that fire in him where he’s always looking to learn,” Gase said of Darnold. “Anytime you’re around a young kid like that who already kind of has that part of it, that’s something you want to be a part of. A lot of times you have to get young guys to understand athletic ability only gets you so far, it’s expanding your mind, it’s making sure you’re constantly learning. That’s the key to being a great player.”

Defend Every Blade
The choice of Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator should not have surprised anyone. Gase wants his players challenged each day and training camp promises to be interesting with him and Williams, who just got hired a seventh time as a pro defensive coordinator, locking horns on the practice field.

“I love guys that bring swagger and attitude, ones who are going to defend every blade of grass, want to make practices competitive,” Gase said to WFAN’s Mike Francesa. “That’s to me is how it starts. If your practices feel like a game, then you’re going to perform better in the game.”

And Gase is going to let Williams dial it up how he sees fit. There will be necessary communication, but Williams will indeed be the head coach of the defense.

“The only time I bring it to their attention is if it’s some kind of situational where timeouts might be coming or you’re in four-minute or two-minute situations or end the half, what we’re looking to do,” Gase said. “I try not to really get demanding with the defensive coordinator. I know I never liked it when you felt like somebody was looking over your shoulder and just constantly hounding you on calls.”

Deep Dive
One of the most critical steps for Gase over the new few weeks and months will be identifying players who should remain part of the program. While fans have circled the beginning of free agency and big-game hunting, Gase’s staff has to do a thorough evaluation of what is here and that means going beyond game tape.

“The best way to evaluate it though, to be honest, is when you get guys in practice and that’s the hard part when you become a new staff is you’re going straight off of game film. The good thing though is we are able to watch what guys have done in practice last year and the year before that because everything is still here,” he told Francesa. “We’re really going to have to take a deep dive and make sure we do a great job of evaluating our own.”

Go All Access with the New Head Coach of the Green & White

Eyes and Ears
In Miami, Gase had a member of his staff who was responsible for all things situational.

“I had a guy whose really main focus was situational football, timeouts, all those types of things. That’s a full-time job in itself the way it is,” he said. “There are a lot of rules, there are a lot of rule changes, there are a lot of things you have to manage throughout the game. And it’s nice to have someone that is just specifically focused on that, that kind of is your eyes and ears throughout a game that can kind of give you those heads-up when you need them.”

Test the Limits
In Darnold, Gase inherits a pupil who cannot get enough. The 21-year-old Darnold is all ball all the time and Gase is embracing this unique opportunity. He said his mind is wrapping around what to start with, where they want to take it and how to develop the offense because the quarterback will have a lot of say in his system.

“You want him to be able to play fast. You want him to be able to not think so much and just use his ability,” said Gase. “But at the same time, I feel like in the conversations I had with him in the time before I actually got the job, I feel like he’s the kind of guy who wants to be challenged. He wants to see how far he can push himself, which that’s one of those things as a coach you’re excited to be a part of. That’s what we’re really going to have to figure out as we go through this spring, that’s really where you want to test the limits and see how far you can actually push each other.”

Not Socially Active
While Gase did enjoy a few laughs on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, he did not bite when asked about some of the attention he has received in social circles. Gase has come to New York with one thing on his mind and that is winning games.

“I don’t have Twitter or Instagram,” he said. “I don’t read the Internet. I don’t watch TV.”

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