Before there was a Sean McVay, the young offensive whiz kid-coach that every team suddenly wants to copy, Adam Gase was that object of everyone's affections. He was the next offensive genius, the hottest assistant on the coaching carousel.
Just three years ago, when he was only 36, he was McVay before anyone even knew of McVay.
The luster may have faded from his star in the last three years as he went 23-25 with a somewhat dysfunctional Miami Dolphins organization. But the Jets were undeterred by the mess he left in Miami.
To them, he's still the rising star he was three years ago, the whiz kid who can work wonders with franchise quarterback Sam Darnold and turn their franchise around.
And they may be right.
The now-40-year-old Gase isn't the perfect candidate. He certainly doesn't seem to be a popular candidate. And with former Packers coach Mike McCarthy available, he probably wasn't the best candidate either. But he's a good one who checks a lot of the boxes the Jets needed: NFL experience, an offensive mind, and an ability to work with quarterbacks.
He may not have developed a young quarterback the way he'll have to develop Darnold, but he was the quarterbacks coach in Denver in 2011 when the Broncos rode Tim Tebow to the playoffs. And as their offensive coordinator, he squeezed two brilliant seasons out of an aging Peyton Manning, who was recovering from multiple neck surgeries. That included 2013 when Manning threw for 55 touchdowns, only 10 interceptions and 5,477 yards as the Broncos reached the Super Bowl.
Manning, it turns out, called Jets CEO Christopher Johnson and strongly recommended Gase, according to NFL Network. That might have been what put Gase over McCarthy, who was thought to be Johnson's top choice all along. That's a heck of an endorsement from a man who knows as much about modern day quarterbacking - and coaching quarterbacks -- as anyone in the NFL.
Of course, as good as Gase's experience in Denver was, things did not go smoothly in his first head coaching job. He did get the Dolphins to the playoffs with a 10-6 record in his first season, but it all went downhill from there. The Dolphins were among the NFL's worst offensive teams in the league during his tenure.
But one of the big problems there was that his quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, was injured most of the time. Tannehill missed the entire 2017 season, and played only 24 of 48 games under Gase.
Sure, there were other problems. Gase reportedly had issues with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and clashed with some of his players. Some who know him called him "arrogant," and he also had no problem getting rid of players who didn't buy into his program.
Doesn't that sound like exactly what the Jets need? After years of locker room strife under Todd Bowles, with too many players getting arrested or suspended, divides in the locker room, and player discipline issues, shouldn't the Jets want a coach who is going to come in and take control, and get rid of anyone who won't play by his rules?
Sure, there's a risk in a coach like that. But there's a bigger risk in a college coach like Matt Rhule or Kliff Kingsbury - both of whom the Jets flirted with in recent days - who might not command the respect of NFL players. And there's a bigger risk in an NFL assistant with no head coaching experience, like Bowles was, who has to learn on the job.
The Jets now have their first experienced head coach since Bill Parcells left in 1999. They have their first offensive-minded coach since Rich Kotite was fired in 1996. With a young quarterback and a team that believes it's ready to be a playoff contender, both things are exactly what the Jets' need.
The fact that he's failed with another AFC East team may make for bad optics and make fans cringe, but there's a long list of coaches who were far better their second time around. Gase may actually be entering a better situation than the one he inherited in Miami three years ago, with $100 million in cap room to spend, the No. 3 overall pick, and a still-growing franchise quarterback.
The pieces are there for him to be a winner. Three years ago, in this situation, nobody would've questioned a hire like this. The Jets would've felt like they won the lottery.
Three years later, Gase shouldn't be treated like damaged goods. McCarthy probably would've been a safer choice. Maybe Rhule or Kingsbury would have been bolder.
But Gase has all the ingredients to turn out to be just right.