Like Parcells, Gase Has Chance To Change Jets Identity, 50 Years After Super Bowl III

By Jason Klein

Fifty years.

That’s how long it’s been since the New York Jets won a Super Bowl.

Hell, that’s how long it’s been since they even appeared in the big game.

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of Super Bowl III.  January 12, 1969 is this team’s identity.  It’s the defining moment in their franchise’s history and it happened 50 years ago today.

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Parcells Took Over in 1997.  Gase Gets His Shot in 2019.

Yes.  Fifty!

Imagine being best known for something you accomplished a half century ago.

When will the narrative change?  Well, it’s been 22 years since their last, best chance.  In 1997, after winning just 4 of their previous 32 games, the Jets hired the coach they thought could rescue them from irrelevance and completely change everything.  This week, they did it again.

Tuna then. A Dolphin now.

There are a lot of similarities between what Bill Parcells faced in 1997 and what former Miami Head Coach, Adam Gase is about to take on.

Both inherited a floundering Jets franchise in desperate need of a new beginning.

Parcells’ rescue mission followed the team’s historically horrible two-year run from 1995-1996.  He began the makeover in his second season by introducing new uniforms.  He brought back a modern version of the team’s jerseys worn between 1964-1977, a tribute to that only Super Bowl team in franchise history.

Next, he added a ton of new players.  Game-changing players.  Names like Curtis Martin, Kevin MawaeKeith Byars and Bryan Cox.  They brought a new attitude and gave the team instant credibility.

Finally, he found a top-level Quarterback.  Vinny Testaverde arrived, leading the Jets to a Division Title, a 12-4 record and a trip to the AFC Championship Game.  Though they fell one win short of a Super Bowl appearance, the team had clearly turned a corner.

When Gase is introduced as the new HC of the NYJ on Monday afternoon, he’ll also inherit a team coming off a historically horrible run.  Over the last three seasons, they’ve won just 14 of their previous 48 games.

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Sam Darnold Hopes To Be First Jets QB Since Joe Namath To Win a Super Bowl For Jets.

Like Parcells, Gase will attempt to change the team’s identity.

New uniforms are coming this spring.  With the third overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and close to $100M in cap space, Gase and GM Mike Maccagnan must find new, game-changing players like Parcells once did.  Lucky for Gase, he’s already got the QB in Sam Darnold.

Both Parcells and Gase took over Jets teams at pivotal junctures in franchise history.  They were both hired by questionable ownerships with limited football knowledge.  Gase also takes on an angry, skeptical fanbase who is tired of losing, just as Parcells did.

Parcells was able to quickly flip the script and almost get that elusive second Lombardi Trophy for the Jets.  Now Adam Gase has his chance.

“I’m excited about him coming,” said Joe Namath, the man under center 50 years ago today.  “I believe he can do it.”

If he does, according to acting owner, Christopher Johnson, he’ll be a “Freaking Legend.”  It’s been a freaking long time since this team had any real legends to celebrate.

Fifty years, to be exact.

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Darnold Gives Jets Fans Like Me Hope.

By Jason Klein

Thursday night, I left the Meadowlands with a win.

I’ve walked out of there many times through the years.  This time felt different, though.

Inside, there were no passes thrown, no yards gained and no touchdowns scored.  My team gained no ground in the standings either.

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Sam Darnold – Drafted 3rd Overall By The Jets.

I still left with a win, and it was unlike any victory I’ve experienced in that stadium, or the old one.

I won because I left with hope.

Like, long-term hope. Like, hey, I might have several years of meaningful football ahead of me kind of hope.  Maybe even a decade of hope.  Maybe even more.

Thursday night, I left the Meadowlands after the New York Jets selected Sam Darnold with the 3rd overall pick in the NFL Draft.  I was there, watching along with other Jets fans, at the team’s 2018 Draft Party.  When Darnold put on that crisp Jets cap and held up that green jersey, he immediately became the most promising prospect to play Quarterback for the Jets since Joe Namath left forty years ago.

He was not expected to be available for the Jets to select.  Like so many of the games I’ve watched in that Stadium, I felt Darnold was just a little out of reach. Too good to be true.  Not meant-to-be.

I was wrong.

Somehow, as I watched inside MetLife Stadium, Darnold, arguably the top Quarterback in the draft, miraculously fell into the Jets lap.  This sort of thing doesn’t happen to the Jets. Ever.  This is a team that finds a way to lose, even when they win.  Not this time, though.

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Attending the Jets Draft Party at MetLife Stadium

Mark it down as a “W.”

I’ve waited a long time for this.

I had a Ken O’Brien jersey as a kid.  I traded that for a Boomer Esiason uniform.  Browning Nagle and Glenn Foley were teases.  I never bought into Neil O’Donnell, but I fell hard for Vinny Testaverde and Chad Pennington.  Mark Sanchez brought me closer to a Lombardi Trophy than anyone since Vinny…twice. Ultimately, he had the rug pulled out from under him.  Brett Favre was a gimmick.  Tim Tebow was a distraction.  Geno Smith was never the answer and Ryan Fitzpatrick was a bearded bridge to nowhere.

So many different Quarterbacks through the years.  Some showed the promise to rise above the ineptitude that has so often hampered this organization.  All of them ended up sinking, one way or another, deep into the swamps of Jersey.

Unfulfilled potential. Unfortunate injuries.  Undermined by management.  Unbelievable misfortune.

This is different. Landing Darnold is a franchise-changing victory.

Sure, he could be a bust. He could turn out to be just another name to add to the list of failed Jets Quarterbacks.  We won’t know that for several years.

But, what if he succeeds? What if he’s a true Franchise Quarterback?  What if he leads the Jets to the playoffs?  What if he gets one of those Lombardi Trophies?  What if he gets more?

What if he has a long, historic career for the Jets?  Like, a 10-12 year career?  My daughters are in 2nd grade and pre-school now.  What if Sam Darnold is still the Quarterback of the Jets when they’re in college?  What if?

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Darnold Introduced to New York.

That’s what makes this pick a win. A conquest so different than all the others I’ve seen through the years in East Rutherford, NJ.

It’s the hope.  It’s the optimism.  It’s the faith and belief in my team that I’ve lacked for far too long now.

Sports fans need hope. Without it, what’s the point?  Why spend the time or the money?  Without hope, rooting for a team becomes a robotic ritual. Passionless and pointless.

I want my Sundays in the Fall to matter.  I want to trust in a process and be confident in a plan.

The last few years, I’ve watched this team with indifference.  There seemed to be no strategy for the future. Drafting Sam Darnold changes that.

Drafting Sam Darnold gives me hope.

For me, that’s a win.

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