Adam Gase's continued employment might be on the line Thursday night when the New York Jets play the Denver Broncos in a battle of 0-3 teams with forlorn offenses at East Rutherford, N.J.
The Jets have been outscored 94-37 over their first three games and were walloped 36-7 by the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. The short week between games may have helped Gase remain coach for at least one more game.
Gase is doing his best to fend off the growing speculation that his tenure is near an end. New York started 0-4 last year in his first season and this campaign is also getting away fast. That they rallied to win six of their last eight games in 2019 was nice, providing hope for 2020 -- which has not materialized into quality play or positive results.
"We don't have the time to sit there and feel sorry for ourselves," Gase said. "We have to move on to the next game because it's coming up quick.
"This is the NFL -- 0-3 now. For me, I have to keep our players in the right headspace, especially when there's a lot of negativity coming at you, when everyone's character has to show up and we got to get it fixed."
New York starting quarterback Sam Darnold is also under fire after a woeful effort against the Colts in which he threw three interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns.
It marked the fifth time that Darnold has thrown three or more interceptions in just 29 career games.
The third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft isn't making much of an impact as the offense ranks last in scoring (12.3 points per game) and total offense (263.7).
But Gase insists he has no thoughts of demoting Darnold.
"That's always a tough decision because he's 23 years old and he's in his third year," Gase said. "Every snap he takes in a real game, they're so valuable. They're learning experiences. You have to go through tough situations sometimes. It's not always going to be smooth."
Said Darnold: "I'm looking forward to getting back at it. It's a quick turnaround and I'm looking forward to a good game against Denver and getting a win."
Meanwhile, the Broncos will give untested quarterback Brett Rypien his first career start. Drew Lock (shoulder) remains out and Jeff Driskel was largely ineffective in Sunday's 28-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Rypien entered late in the game against Tampa Bay and was 8-of-9 passing for 53 yards and one interception. Denver is counting on him to spark an offense that ranks 30th in scoring (15.0) and 29th in total offense (289.3).
The 24-year-old Rypien has solid bloodlines -- his uncle Mark was MVP of Super Bowl XXVI following the 1991 season for Washington -- and he enjoyed a standout career at Boise State in which he set Mountain West Conference records for career passing yardage (13,581 yards) and 300-yard games (21).
"We've had a year and a second training camp and a couple weeks with Brett here," Denver coach Vic Fangio said of Rypien, who was signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2019 draft. "We just think he deserves a chance here to see how he can do here, as a starter albeit with a short week of preparation, and take a look at Brett that way."
Rypien isn't overly concerned about it being a short week, he just wants to help the Broncos avoid their second straight 0-4 start.
"I think no matter who we're playing right now, we definitely need a win," Rypien said. "So yeah, that's the main focus. The focus for me is just to try to get better these next two days. We're not going to get a lot of reps full speed with the guys. It's about the mental reps and making sure I'm dialed in on protections and things like that."
The Denver defense suffered a big blow when five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey sustained a season-ending biceps injury against Tampa Bay. The unit, of course, lost star linebacker Von Miller (ankle) for the season earlier this month.
Running back Philip Lindsay (foot) was a limited practice participant each of the past two days and there is a chance he could be cleared to team with Melvin Gordon in the backfield. Lindsay has missed the past two games.
New York left tackle Mekhi Becton (shoulder) and linebacker Jordan Jenkins (shoulder) were limited in practice the past two days after being injured against the Colts. Jamison Crowder (hamstring) could be a game-time decision after missing the past two games, while fellow wideouts Breshad Perriman (ankle) and Chris Hogan (ribs/knee) are less likely to play.
--Field Level Media