The Jets have come to the realization that if they could not beat Adam Gase, they might as well hire him.
After a busy, 10-day coaching search that saw the team chairman Christopher Johnson and General Manager Mike Maccagnan interview eight candidates, the Jets decided on Wednesday to name Gase their next head coach, according to a person familiar with the deal who is not authorized to comment publicly about it.
The hire was first reported by ESPN and NFL Network, and a formal announcement is expected to come on Thursday.
Gase went 23-25 in three seasons with the Miami Dolphins in the A.F.C. East, reaching the postseason in just one of those years. But he was 5-1 against the Jets, including two wins in 2018.
It is a pivotal hire for the franchise, which fired Todd Bowles on Dec. 30 after four playoff-less seasons that extended a postseason drought that started in 2011. But in quarterback Sam Darnold, who will be entering his sophomore season, the team believes it has a franchise cornerstone brimming with potential.
Gase, 40, checked a lot of boxes for Johnson and Maccagnan, who led the search. He is a young but experienced coach with a reputation as an innovative playcaller. Most important for his new team, he is a quarterback guru, who received rave reviews for his work with players including Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler, and Tim Tebow — work that the Jets hope will continue with Darnold.
Gase was considered a rising star in 2016, when he was hired by Miami as the youngest coach in the N.F.L. He had spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos, who set N.F.L. scoring records and reached the Super Bowl with his creative, pass-heavy offense. As the Chicago Bears’ offensive coordinator in 2015, he helped Cutler reduce his interceptions and record a career-best passer rating.
His breakthrough into head coaching, however, came with mixed results. Gase, who also called the plays for Miami, went 10-6 his first season and reached the playoffs — losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a wild-card game — but the team failed to finish over .500 the next two years. Gase’s young quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, missed the entire 2017 season and five games in 2018. And with an injury-depleted roster this season, Gase received some credit for managing to keep the team in contention until the final month of the season.
A protégé of Nick Saban, Gase did not play college football but started assisting on Saban’s staff as a student at Michigan State. When Saban later left for Louisiana State, Gase was the only staff member who left with him. And during the week leading up to the Super Bowl in 2014, Manning called Gase “the smartest guy I know.”
Gase’s hiring caps a coaching search that carried a palpable sense of urgency. On Dec. 31, a day after the conclusion of the regular season, Johnson and Maccagnan outlined what they were looking for in the next coach, knowing that seven other teams were in the same boat. And the Jets quickly got to interviewing; the candidates included the former head coaches Jim Caldwell and Mike McCarthy; the coordinators Eric Bieniemy, Todd Monken, and Kris Richard; and the Baylor University coach Matt Rhule.
Gase’s résumé stands out among those of past Jets coaches. He is the franchise’s first coach to be hired with any prior head coaching experience since Bill Parcells in 1997 and the first with an offensive background since Rich Kotite in 1995.
While Johnson and Maccagnan did not rule out hiring another defense-minded coach, their remarks made clear that they were focused on finding someone who could mentor Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft. And with the No. 3 pick yet again this year, and over $100 million in salary cap space this off-season, the burden is on Maccagnan, in the final year of his contract, to put together a roster that can finally compete for a division title.
On Dec. 31, Johnson said he believed the Jets’ opening was an attractive one, and not only because of Darnold.
“If you win here, you’re a freaking legend,” Johnson said. “That counts for something.”
Gase will get the chance to find out.