NEW YORK (AP) — It took just eight games for a season that began with high hopes to hit rock bottom for the New York Jets.
Adam Gase is on the hot seat. Sam Darnold is regressing. The seemingly always-frustrated fan base is seething.
And, the struggling Jets are still only halfway through the season.
"1-7 is not fun to go through," Gase said Monday. "Things haven't gone the way that we wanted to. It's just that's what happens in the NFL sometimes and, unfortunately, we're going through it right now."
An embarrassing 26-18 loss to previously winless Miami on Sunday was the brutal capper to an enormously disappointing first half of the season.
Gase is the most popular target of criticism by fans and media, with some calling for Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson to end his tenure now — just 10 months after he was hired. One ambitious group has even started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for billboards and plane banners calling for Gase's firing.
"It's just something that I don't really focus on," Gase insisted.
Between game planning issues, clock management missteps, a slew of injuries to key players and a tough opening schedule, it has all added up to the Jets matching their second-worst start in franchise history. They've been 1-7 five other times, most recently in 2014. Only the 1996 squad under Rich Kotite was worse at 0-8 before finishing 1-15.
But after losing to the lowly Dolphins, there's no clear sign that things will get turned around anytime soon.
"All I can focus on is, we'll be better for having to go through this," Gase said. "We've got to figure out a way to dig ourselves out of this and go find a way to win a game."
Darnold's overall performance during the last three games has been particularly troubling.
The second-year quarterback has three touchdown passes and eight interceptions in the losses to New England, Jacksonville and Miami. He has also completed just 58.4% of his passes (59 of 101), but it's more than just the numbers.
Darnold, working behind a porous offensive line, has been pressured early and often, and been forced to make throws off his back foot or at times even flat-footed. He's pressing, trying desperately to make a play and falling into bad habits as a result.
"There's definitely some things that I can clean up," Darnold said. "I think just from that aspect, personally, I think I can play a little bit faster, go through reads a little bit faster. And then as a team, I just think we need to keep improving."
That will be the key in the second half of the season, especially for Darnold. He's considered a franchise-type quarterback, and he'll be expected to show signs of playing like one down the stretch.
"It sucks to say, now that we're 1-7, but we're right there," Darnold said of his team. "We've just got to clean up some things and we'll be OK."
Everyone's card keys to get into the Jets' facility.
Despite being visibly frustrated after the game Sunday, team chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson hasn't taken any drastic measures — yet.
"When we lose a game, I feel like I let him down and having not gotten us to where I was hoping we'd be at this point," Gase said. "He understands that he's going to get everything I have day in and day out to try to work things out of where we are at right now."
WHAT NEEDS HELP
It sounds like a broken record, but the reality is the Jets need to improve everywhere — from the coach to the quarterback and everywhere in between.
The offensive line has been especially brutal, and it was called for five penalties at Miami and allowed nine quarterback hits. The botched snap from center Jonotthan Harrison to Darnold that went out of the end zone for a safety was the exclamation point on a bad day.
Jamison Crowder. He re-emerged as a favorite target of Darnold with eight catches for 83 yards and his first touchdown with the Jets. It was Crowder's best all-around game since the season opener, when he caught 14 passes for 99 yards.
Jamal Adams. A tough performance capped a rough week for the star safety. Adams had just four tackles and a sack, but had a handful of lapses in coverage. That came after Adams said last week he was "hurt" by being mentioned in trade talks, and has turned down requests from Gase and GM Joe Douglas to speak with him to clear the air.
Running back Le'Veon Bell had an MRI on one of his knees, and the team was awaiting results. Gase learned of the potential injury Monday morning when Bell missed team meetings to undergo the tests. ... Linebacker C.J. Mosley (groin) remains sidelined. ... Nose tackle Steve McLendon is being evaluated for a neck injury. ... The Jets could get both left tackle Kelvin Beachum (ankle) and tight end Chris Herndon (hamstring) back this week.
25 — The number of touches Bell got a week after he told Gase he was frustrated with just 11 at Jacksonville. Bell gained just 66 yards on the ground on 17 carries, but also had 55 yards receiving on eight catches. If healthy, he'll likely be just as involved — if not more — moving forward.
The Jets take on the Giants on Sunday for MetLife Stadium bragging rights. More importantly, a victory would give Gase's group a positive step to build on with a four-game stretch of potentially winnable matchups — Washington, Oakland, Cincinnati and Miami again — up next.