Thankfully, the joke preseason has ended.
Now it’s on Adam Gase to end the Jets’ eight-year playoff drought.
It’s on Gase to show us what kind of head coach we have here.
It’s on Gase to call the plays that will help Sam Darnold make that critical second-year leap.
With the Giants in rebuild mode and pondering a ground-shaking quarterback change from Eli Manning to Daniel Jones, this will be Gase’s chance to transform championship-starved New York into Adam’s Apple.
“I’ve seen a group of guys that have steadily got better, I feel like those guys are really connecting as a group,” Gase said. “The core group of guys that we have, I think we have good leadership. It’s good to see kinda the development that we’ve gone through and seeing the steps that these guys are making trying to become a better team.
“We’ll probably have some ups and downs and some adversity, but we’ll figure out what kind of team we have, especially in that first quarter of the season.”
The stars are aligned for him:
Darnold is the young franchise quarterback he did not have in his three years with injury-plagued Ryan Tannehill in Miami.
Joe Douglas is the GM he craved after he either did or he didn’t win a power struggle with Mike Maccagnan.
Christopher Johnson is the owner he did not feel he had with the Dolphins in Stephen Ross.
And even if he was opposed to paying Le’Veon Bell $52.5 million over four years in free agency, he has embraced him as a dual-threat weapon who will torment defensive coordinators and make life easier on Darnold.
So let’s see that beautiful mind that compelled Peyton Manning to vouch for him at every possible turn.
Gase was comfortable enough in his own skin to hire the rambunctious, testosterone-fueled Gregg Williams as the head coach of his defense, his Wade Phillips, so he can fixate on the offense in a way that no Jets head coach has since Bruce Coslet.
Gase has energized the building, which is buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Any building would be after 14-34 over the last three seasons under Todd Bowles and Maccagnan.
Gase supported kicker Taylor Bertolet after he missed field goals from 53, 56 and 49 yards and connected from 22 and 39 in the Jets’ 6-0 victory.
“We were late coming out twice,” Gase said. “You just can’t do that to the kicker. You can’t bust his rhythm like that.”
So you would feel OK if he was your Week 1 kicker.
“Yeah,” Gase said.
That very likely to change as early as Cutdown Saturday, a day that brings out the human side of Gase.
“That’s the worst part of it,” Gase said. “When you’re spending as much time as we do with these guys from really April til now, especially once you start training camp, you’re around each other from 6:30 in the morning til 9, 10 o’clock at night every day, six days a week it feels like.
“It’s tough, because you develop relationships, and you gotta move on, and some of these you never see again.”
Gase will be more entertaining than Eric Mangini and Bowles, less entertaining than Herm Edwards and Rex Ryan. And it won’t matter. The bulging eyes at his introductory press conference, the pregame smelling salts, the anecdotes about his crazed, obsessive football ways, no one will care about any of it when the Jets kick off the season Sept. 8 against the Bills.
“When we hit game week, we hit that Wednesday, then I’ll probably be ready to go,” Gase said.
Maccagnan left Gase thin at cornerback and pass rusher. And place-kicker. Douglas got him Ryan Kalil and Alex Lewis for the offensive line.
Gase doesn’t have a complete team. He has enough to contend for a playoff berth. He has the quarterback. Soon we get to find out whether the quarterback has the coach.
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