Joe Douglas on firing Adam Gase: ‘I wanted nothing more than for us to succeed together’

Jets GM Joe Douglas found himself in an unusual position this weekend, having to fire head coach Adam Gase, who, ironically, was the one who hired Douglas when he defected from Philadelphia in 2019. Douglas’ friendship with Gase, which began when both were members of the Bears’ organization in 2015, is probably why Gase lasted as long as he did atop the Jets’ coaching chain of command while Bill O’Brien and others in similar positions of authority around the league fell by the wayside.

You can sympathize with Douglas, who was given the unenviable task of firing a close friend. Douglas, who seemed despondent when the subject was raised during Tuesday’s press conference, clearly took no joy in being the bearer of bad news.

“I’ve known Adam for a very long time. I’m a big supporter of his,” said Douglas, appreciative of Gase’s contributions despite the team’s anemic 9-23 record during his two-year tenure. “I wanted nothing than for us to succeed here together. This was hard for me. I know people outside this building may not see it at this time, but he did some really good things here that are going to help us moving forward.”

While it’s evident Gase was never right for the job, Douglas put at least some of the onus on himself, lamenting his own roster choices while vowing to improve his decision-making. “I certainly could have done a better job putting this roster together, helping the staff, helping this team succeed,” Douglas acknowledged. “Obviously 2-14, no one is proud of that.”

Beyond New York’s coaching search, which Douglas says is already underway with the team beginning to submit formal interview requests, the Jets must also decide their next course of action with quarterback Sam Darnold. While Darnold certainly played better down the stretch and is still just 23, the Jets could prefer one of Justin Fields or Zach Wilson, both of whom should be available with the second overall pick in April’s draft. Douglas was predictably diplomatic when asked of Darnold’s future in the Big Apple, praising his abilities without making a commitment.

“I think Sam has a very bright future in this league,” said Douglas. “We’re going to get a head coach in here. We’re going to get together. We’re going to talk about quite a few decisions. I’m excited about Sam.”

Coming off a fifth consecutive losing season, the Jets have gone 10 years without a postseason appearance, the longest active drought among NFL teams.

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