Jets fans may not be loving the hire of Adam Gase as the team’s new head coach, but their quarterback is.
“I feel really good about it — really, really good,” Sam Darnold told The Post on Thursday. “I’m really, really excited about where this team can go with him as the head coach, especially offensively. We obviously have talent on our team and I think with his offense and with his mind for the game and our ability to go out there and score touchdowns, the sky is the limit for us. I really do believe that.”
The Jets hired Gase on Wednesday night after a search that included eight candidates. Darnold spoke with many of the candidates, including a conversation with Gase on Monday night.
“We were just talking about culture and where our team needs to go and all that kind of stuff all the way to football,” Darnold said. “It was good talking to him. Obviously, he knows his stuff football-wise and he really has his mind on the right track on where we need to be as a team as well. I’m really, really pumped about this hire and looking forward to working with Adam.”
Pairing an offensive-minded head coach with the 21-year-old Darnold was one of the team’s priorities during the coaching search. Gase has drawn praise in league circles for his work with quarterbacks through the years, which made him a strong candidate for the Jets.
The Jets and Gase were still finalizing a contract on Thursday. An introductory press conference will follow once the deal is finalized.
While many Jets fans greeted the hiring of Gase with pessimism because he went 23-25 in the regular season with the Dolphins over the past three years, Darnold said Gase’s passion was obvious when the two spoke this week.
“He’s just fiery. He’s a fiery dude, but really on it,” Darnold said. “He just has so much passion for the game and you could tell he has so much passion for his players and respects the game so much that he’s willing to give everything that he’s got into it. With that being said, I feel really confident in his ability to coach us with that kind of attitude. I feel like that attitude is really contagious and I feel like it’s going to help us grow and help us win games throughout this year and in years to come.”
Darnold is back home in California at the moment, but will be in New York later this month for a promotional appearance. He said while he is here he will stop by the Jets’ headquarters to meet Gase in person.
The Jets selected Darnold with the No. 3 pick in last year’s NFL draft. He had an up-and-down rookie year, throwing 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, but finished the year strong. After returning from a foot injury, Darnold threw six touchdowns and one interception in his final four games.
The Jets have $100 million in salary cap space this offseason and the No. 3 pick in the draft again. They should be able to improve the team around Darnold, who believes the Jets will turn things around this year.
“We’re going to go out and make the most of our opportunities and he’s going to make sure that as a team and him as a leader he’s going to make sure that we’re ready to go every single Sunday,” Darnold said.
Even though the season only ended two weeks ago, Darnold is ready to get back to work.
“Oh my goodness, I’m so excited,” Darnold said. “I’m really looking forward to this season and working with coach Gase.”