INDIANAPOLIS - The conclusion from the Jets last year seemed inescapable. They had found their franchise quarterback. But they really needed to get him some help.
That's why this offseason has seemed to be about one thing: Finding weapons for Sam Darnold to use. Finding playmakers who can make a difference in the offense. That seemed to be a priority for the Jets in both free agency and the draft.
But new coach Adam Gase didn't sound like it was really a priority at all.
In fact, during his 15 minutes with the media at the NFL scouting combine on Wednesday, he surprisingly sounded like he was happy with the weapons his new team already has. He raved about receivers Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson. He glowed about tight end Chris Herndon. He even talked up running back Elijah McGuire and downplayed the need for a big-time running back.
Could that mean the Jets would actually stay out of the market for the top offensive players like Le'Veon Bell?
That doesn't seem likely, and team sources continue to indicate they will pursue Bell when free agency begins in less than two weeks. But apparently Gase doesn't see the Jets' offensive cupboard as completely bare. When he looked at the roster of the NFL's 29th-ranked offense, he didn't see a mess of a unit that averaged only 20.8 points per game.
Instead, Gase saw some gems.
Gase's highest praise seemed to come for Herndon, a fourth-round pick out of Miami who caught 39 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns last season.
"I think Chris is unique," Gase said. "I don't think you find a lot of tight ends that are able to be on the field all three downs. He's a very good receiver, he's very good in the run game and he did a really good job in pass protection last year. He's a unicorn-type player where you don't see a lot of these guys who can do all three phases of the game."
Gase even said that Herndon's presence alone "helps those other guys that are there, the receivers, to where people have to account for him."
Assuming Gase will use Herndon a lot, that should definitely help the Jets' receivers. Most people seem to agree that the Jets could use a true No. 1 receiver. Enunwa, who signed a four-year, $36 million contract extension in December, and Anderson, who just got a second-round tender of $3.1 million, don't seem to fit that description.
But Gase said "they play well together" and he praised their individual skills.
He said Enunwa, who had 38 catches for 449 yards in only 11 games last season, is a "physical" receiver and "the type of guy you just want to get the ball in his hands. You really don't care how you do it. His physicality as a runner is unique. I don't think you see a guy with that kind of size that can do what he does."
And as for Anderson, who had 50 catches for 752 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games, Gase said he was "impressed" by his speed.
"It's unique," Gase said. "You don't see a whole bunch of guys who have what he has and the way he tracks the ball down the field. I don't think I've ever been around a player that does it as smooth. He is so smooth that when he sticks his hands out and at the speed he's running, to see him just pluck the ball and keep on rolling."
And Gase wouldn't limit Anderson to just being a deep threat.
"We're just going to keep trying to think of ways to get him the ball, ways to create variety in his routes," he said. "Instead of just doing one or two things, maybe we can open that thing up to five, six, seven things to where he's a threat on multiple levels, whether it be underneath, intermediate or down the field."
Meanwhile, McGuire didn't play much due to a foot injury and only rushed for 276 yards in eight games. Gase still praised him, but what was more interesting about his comments was that he didn't seem to feel he needed an elite running back to make his offense go.
"I think we've done it multiple ways," Gase said. "It comes down to who is on your roster, what types of players you have, what are their strengths. That's really what we're going to do is adjust the offense to that. So, I'm pretty sure I know where you're going with this. We have the option to do what we need to do with the players that we have."
Yeah, obviously that was a question about Bell, the premier offensive free agent on the market. And obviously he wasn't going to tip the Jets' hand. It's still a good bet the Jets will try to add Bell to their collection of weapons.
But Gase made it clear that he believes their current collection can be pretty good, too.