Dyer: Jets, Adam Gase Face Toughest Game of the Season

Kristian Dyer

This is the toughest game of Adam Gase’s tenure as head coach of the New York Jets. 

Sunday’s opponent certainly doesn’t look the part of being the most difficult team that the Jets (4-8) will face this year. Despite the fact that the Miami Dolphins (3-9) have beaten the Jets already this year, it isn’t as much about the opponent being played as it is about the Jets and their belief in what has been built over the past four games. 

Roughly three hours after kickoff on Sunday, a lot more will be known about Gase and the Jets locker room. As well as if this rebuild is actually heading in the right direction. 

After the Jets lost in Miami in Week 9, this team had a gut-check moment. The Jets had just handed the previously winless Dolphins their first win of the season and the sense around New York was that this rebuild was doomed under Gase. The Jets had endured a painful season, filled with foibles and a staggering number of injuries. But the Jets had just lost to the worst team in the league, a result that is entirely inexcusable. 

In light of this loss, they were expected to do what Jets teams of the past had done and collapse. Instead, they rallied and responded, winning three straight games to change the narrative of their entire season. 

That is, until last weekend when another winless team, the then 0-11 Cincinnati Bengals, emerged with a win over the Jets. The feel of the season changed with the winning streak not only snapped but another loss to a terrible team underscoring that this team is closer to the beginning of their rebuild process than towards the end. 

What had been a year that was trending up as the season wore down now feels despondent and wasted after a loss at the Bengals. 

That can change this Sunday. The Jets and Gase face the task of overcoming themselves. The playoffs, a long shot even if the Jets had won in Cincinnati in Week 13, are now out of reach. 

The Jets have nothing to play for other than pride, for the name on the front of the jersey. If they stand tall on Sunday and revenge their loss in Week 9, it will be a statement about this team and Gase as their head coach. Five weeks ago, no one believed that the Jets were any good and they defied expectations to begin that winning streak. 

This weekend, the task falls to Gase to pick up a team that had just been enjoying success and then found a way to fumble all their momentum. Gase must not simply pick a team up as he did five weeks ago after that loss in Miami. 

Now, he must get a team that was starting to believe in themselves to once again put the pieces back together and re-group. To believe once more that they are capable of getting back on track. It is a difficult task, given how far the Jets have fallen in losing last weekend to the unquestioned worst team in the NFL. 

Here is where the Jets must rise, here is where they face their most difficult foe. Here they must believe that they can rise again. 

And here Gase’s mettle will be tested in a way that hasn’t yet been with the Jets this year. In this game, the character of his team will be shown.

Will the Jets fold and concede not just another game but the season? Or will Gase's team step forward to show once again that there is conviction and backbone to this rebuild?