MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — This is where Adam Gase must make his stand. This is where he must stop the bleeding. Because this is where he coached for three years. This is where he was fired on New Year’s Eve. This is where he staggers back into Hard Rock Stadium wishing for revenge on wobbly legs that were expected to run to daylight in lockstep with Sam Darnold thanks to a bromance for the ages.
He will be greeted by an outfit that is by design every bit as imperfect as the ’72 Dolphins were perfect, whose ownership and management would not object if it could kill Tua birds with one 0-16 stone.
So there is only one message on this Sunday for Gase:
Do not lose to the Miami Dolphins.
Gase has endured a series of unfathomable bad fortune, but there is no crying in football, and there is no telling what becomes of his team if he does not rise above the rubble against Dr. Tankenstein’s monster and keep the Jets from a date that will live in infamy in the city that gave Jets fans the Mud Bowl.
The Dolphins have nothing to lose, and the Jets have their self-esteem to lose, and this day could well reveal whether they will crack under the pressure or find reasons to believe in Gase and rally behind him in a game they know he wants to win.
And cannot lose.
It is not insignificant that Gase has allies in Darnold and Le’Veon Bell, and when I asked Bell if he and his teammates would like to win this game for him, he told The Post:
“Of course. Absolutely. We gotta win for him.”
So this would be a good time for Gase to design creative ways to give the hungry Bell no fewer than 20-25 touches.
“He gets and understands what his players want,” Brandon Copeland said.
It would be a good time for Gase to call plays that enable Darnold to get the ball out quickly, so he doesn’t get the crap knocked out of him behind that matador offensive line the way the young Andrew Luck did behind his.
It would also be a good time for Jamal Adams to show us why he considers himself an untouchable and disrupt a game the way Aaron Donald does seemingly every Sunday and help defensive coordinator Gregg Williams make sure that it is Ryan Fitztragic who surfaces and not Ryan Fitzmagic.
At 1-6, Gase knew that asking his players to “win one for the Gipper” would undoubtedly fall on deaf ears.
“I can’t tell if he’s spiteful, if he’s not,” Jordan Jenkins said. “He’s good at hiding his emotions until game day.”
For more on the Jets, listen to the latest episode of the “Gang’s All Here” podcast:
The sweetest revenge any coach at any level can possibly exact belongs to Jon Gruden, who was traded to the Buccaneers by Al Davis then whipped his beloved Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
“His approach this week compared to every other week we’ve had has been the exact same,” Jonotthan Harrison said.
Gase was 23-25 in Miami with an injury-prone Ryan Tannehill and ruffled a few feathers along the way. Good for him that he didn’t make it about him all week. But Sunday at 1, it will be very much about him.
“I’m never gonna speak on another person’s [thoughts], right,” Copeland said, “but me personally, if I’m ever playing a team that has cut me, even teams that just haven’t offered me in the offseason, there’s a certain edge that I have about me and a certain revenge that I want on them. But he’s a coach. So maybe he’s not thinking that, but again, if I’m playing a team that I used to play for, I’m foaming at the mouth.”
Gase did dial up that onside kick leading 33-9 with 10:21 remaining in the fourth quarter against the Broncos in his first year as Dolphins coach, because he was angry with someone from his years there as an assistant in Denver. He only wishes he will be up 33-9 on Sunday with a chance to stick it to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
“Gase is a savage,” then-Bronco Emmanuel Sanders said at the time. “He loves to win, he loves to embarrass you. That doesn’t surprise you.”
Nevertheless, Gase might not win a primary against John Idzik right now. Darnold hasn’t made that second-year leap. It has been a season of mononucleosis and ghosts for him. Kelechi Osemele is gone following circumstances that usually don’t lead to teammates wanting to run through a wall for the organization. Leonard Williams is a Jolly Blue Giant. Adams apparently would rather break bread with Mike Maccagnan than Joe Douglas. And on and on and on.
Just the 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns have gone 0-16. The 0-7 Dolphins have their eyes on 2020 and Tua Tagovailoa. All New York eyes are on Adam Gase.
Do not lose to the Miami Dolphins.