The New York Jets infamously had Bill Belichick as their head coach for one full day back in early 2000. Now, Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin thinks that the Jets may finally have found someone similar to Belichick.
Adam Gase, under fire last year after the Jets got off to a 1-7 start, has impressed Martin, who played eight seasons for the Jets and is in the franchise’s ‘Ring of Honor.’ The Jets head coach wasn’t a popular hire, a decision that became even more untenable after an unusual press conference where Gase’s physical characteristics were mocked by fans and the media.
But Martin believes that Gase has shown plenty in his first season with the Jets, going 7-9. Martin was asked by Jets Country if there is a coach he would compare Gase to in the NFL.
“I just think that Adam is a unique guy, I think he’s one of those guys – how would I describe it?” Martin told Sports Illustrated’s Jets Country.
“Belichick reminds me almost of a mad scientist of football, right? He figures things out. He just has that kind of mind. Belichick is almost ‘A Beautiful Mind’ of the NFL. And there’s something about Adam that – I think he has that type – I’m not saying he’s Belichick or the exact same or anything – there’s just similarities in the way he approaches the game that just reminds me of people who think that way.”
In his two decades in New England, Belichick has gone 237-83. He is considered one the greatest coaches of all-time and has won five Super Bowls.
The bizarre loss of Belichick in 2000 still stings the Jets franchise. As the team’s defensive coordinator in the previous three seasons under head coach Bill Parcells, he briefly accepted the job as head coach of the Jets before having a change of heart, scribbling a resignation note during his introductory press conference.
The Jets have only won the AFC East once since he took the job with the Patriots.
Gase, considered an offensive mastermind, was largely hired to mentor quarterback Sam Darnold, considered the team’s franchise. Darnold did show growth in 2019, in particular over the second half of the season.
Martin, drafted by the Patriots in 1995, spent the first three seasons of his NFL career in New England before being traded to the Jets. As one who closely watches the Jets, he is impressed by Gase despite the outcry at midseason for the head coach to be fired.
The comparison to Belichick isn’t perfect, of course, but it is more the similarities in their approach to coaching that has made an impression on Martin.
“It’s more from a strategic standpoint. He’s a very strategic guy. He understands Xs and Os on a deeper level. It will be interesting to see what goes on this year,” Martin said. “I think he’s done a pretty good job so far.”
Martin spoke as part of a promotional tour with Pepsi. The beverage company recently revamped the backyard of a Jets fan in Piscataway, N.J. by the name of Cindy.
The tailgate-inspired makeover includes a fully-painted end zone, a massive new television flat screen, a brand new grill and a Pepsi refrigerator, of course.
"I've always been a big proponent of showing the fans that they're appreciated," Martin said. "I spent a lot of my career doing that and the fact that Pepsi was doing it in such an extravagant way, I just thought it'd be cool to reach out to the fans and let them know they're appreciated."
As a player, Martin said he would often attend tailgates after games when fans waited out traffic. He said he would slip out of the stadium into the parking lot, in his street clothes, and blend in with the fans.
The Jets running back would strike up a conversation and inevitably would be offered some food or a beverage by a friendly fan. Very often, he was incognito, at least at first.
“They wouldn’t notice it was me till after I took off my hat,” Martin said with a laugh.