By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
John Gruden and his Las Vegas – still Oakland to me – Raiders roll into Met Life Sunday to battle Adam Gase and his winless 0-11 Jets.
The 6-5 Raiders are coming off a 43-6 pasting from the Falcons, are in the midst of a two-game losing streak, and are banged up. Still, the Raiders’ playoff chances will still in play with a win over the Jets.
Chatter out of Las Vegas has Gruden possibly in trouble if the team doesn’t have a respectable finish.
This won’t one of those classic Jets-Raiders’ gridiron classics from the 1960’s and 70’s. You won’t see too the same types of players like Emerson Boozer, Dan Maynard, John Elliott, Ben Davidson, George Atkinson or Daryl Lamonica around.
Or even another Joe Namath (see more below).
The shiny metal casing around those types of marquee matchups – as well as the Jets’ season– have turned to rust. Las Vegas is anywhere from an eight- to 11-point favorite.
A little over a year, however, the Jets thumped the Raiders, 34-3 at Met Life, as they were winding down their 6-2 finish.
Let that sink in for a minute and now look at the present Jets. Clearly, a lot has changed.
At that time, the Jets had holiday visions of playoffs 2020 along with the prospects of a first-round left tackles in their heads. Yet, GM Joe Douglas played the role of Scrooge, knowing all along that the Jets’ run was superficial and the reboot had begun.
At this time, Gase and his Jets officially waved the white flag Thursday. Gase, specifically, let us know that he signed his release.
Gase readily admitted that his experiment with quarterback Sam Darnold is over. He wasn’t able to turn him into another Peyton Manning in two years or bring him to the cusp of it.
If the presumed Gase-Douglas relationship is still strong, they have indicated the chapter is finished, and the Jets’ 2021 revival –The Trevor Lawrence Phenomena– is already underway. (Don’t be surprised to see Gase back within the organization in a year.)
“I came here to help him, to help him develop his career, and we haven’t been able to do that,” Gase said during his presser Thursday at the Jets’ facility. “That’s why these next [five weeks], every game, is so important to keep trying to help him grow, keep trying to help him develop and see things the way he needs to see them and play the way that I’ve seen him play in certain games.
“We need to do things well around him, but at the same time, it’s on me to get him to play better than what he’s played. So far I haven’t done a good enough job.”
His statement came just after Darnold’s return, which should provide the evidence. This also isn’t exactly motivational word for the rest of the team over the next five games. It would be fitting before their last game in New England, where Gase will meet his inevitable fate after the game as the head coach.
So what about Darnold? For starters, he was supposed to be the next Namath when he was drafted three years ago. Darnold showed promise, particularly late late season, but he hasn’t fulfilled the big picture.
Namath threw for a record 4,007 season yards in his third season and led the Jets to the Super Bowl the next year.
Gase’s signals indicate Darnold is playing out the string with the Jets, auctioning himself to the next available suitor for a second-, third-, or fourth-round pick in April.
Top picks tackle Mekhi Becton, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, and wide receiver Denzel Mims are worth watching the rest of this year, and keep an eye on safety Ashtyn Davis and cornerback Bryce Hall. All five should be building blocks next season and beyond.
As for the rest? They’ll be playing for a job or realize they’ll be moving out of the area. And what ever happened to right guard Alex Lewis, who has been on the non-football related injured list the past few weeks?
It has evolved from a season of promise to hope.
Settle in for a Jets-Raiders’ early Sunday game with a fitting drab 40-degree background. Who knows? You could have a Darnold-Derek Carr 45-38 shootout with either team on the winning side.
Remember, though, you can always find the real essence of Jets-Raiders’ clash on YouTube videos.