NEW YORK – When Adam Gase finally takes off his baseball cap and falls asleep Sunday night (assuming he doesn’t sleep with it on), he should revel in his best game yet as the leader of the Jets universe. The embattled coach has absorbed enough body blows during this turbulent season to last a lifetime, but he pushed all the right buttons in a 34-3 laugher over the Raiders (6-5).
Give credit where it’s absolutely due: Gase dialed up one smart, creative play after another to help the Jets win their third in a row for the first time since Weeks 3-5 in 2017. Gregg Williams’ defense also erased Derek Carr & Co.
So, this is what a winning streak looks like?
The Jets made a respectable team look like a dumpster fire thanks to good coaching and execution in all three phases, a welcomed change for an outfit that looked lost for the first couple months. The 4-7 Jets are in line to extend to their winning ways with a tomato can on the horizon (Bengals), but this victory deserves its proper attention.
These aren’t your father’s Raiders, but Jon Gruden’s team was a step-up in class from the Jets’ previous two opponents (Giants and Washington). Oakland was supposed to be a circus entering the season, but exceeded expectations with a rookie-laden bunch.
Gase’s team turned them back into pumpkins.
Sam Darnold (20 for 29, 315 yards, 3 total touchdowns) carved up a terrible pass defense, Le’Veon Bell reminded us why he’s Le’Veon Bell and Gang Green’s defense made sure that Derek Carr dropped to 2-9 lifetime when the game-time temperature is under 50 degrees.
Braxton Berrios – yes, Braxton Berrios – even lit up the Raiders to turn this into a laugher.
Gase, frankly, hasn’t done much laughing during this season. He became Public Enemy No. 1 with a disgruntled fan base that expected much more entering the season. The Jets were a non-competitive, lost team for months before finding life during this soft part of the schedule.
Gase shouldn’t apologize for this five-week stretch against four cupcakes (Giants, Washington, Bengals and Dolphins) and one decent team (Raiders). The Jets need to take advantage of weaker opponents if Gase has any chance of truly winning over the fanbase.
Nobody is going to complain about trouncing Oakland.
Darnold continued to flash the skills that should make every green-and-white diehard giddy about what might lie ahead for the next decade. The second-year quarterback engineered a scoring drive on his first drive for the fifth consecutive week.
Darnold, who had his third turnover-free game of the season, made terrific plays in and out of the pocket. Some of his best decisions were incompletions. The young signal caller threw the ball away rather than force the issue, a clear sign that he’s learning from past mistakes.
Darnold, who had three touchdowns (two passing and one rushing), has 10 total touchdowns and just two interceptions in his past four games.
His top weapon also came to life.
Le’Veon Bell, mired in his worst statistical season of his career, played an integral role in the Jets’ first win over a non-NFC East opponent. The dual threat racked up 86 of his 109 total yards in the first half to help Gang Green seize control.
Williams’ defense spotted Oakland a field goal on the opening drive before stymieing Carr, who went 15-for-27 for 127 yards and an interception before getting benched in the third quarter.
Gase’s club held a 13-3 halftime lead before pouring it on. Darnold found Ryan Griffin for a one-yard touchdown to cap the Jets’ first drive of the second half a nice play design by Gase.
After the Jets stuffed Oakland on fourth and 1, Gase & Co. made them pay.
Gase dialed up a double-reverse flea flicker on the ensuing drive that netted 31 yards to Robby Anderson. Darnold found Anderson for a 1-yard score to officially cue the laugh track.
Brian Poole’s pick-six on Carr’s pass intended for Tyrell Williams 14 seconds later put the punctuation mark on this impressive performance.
Gase needed it. They all needed it.
Win No. 5 is coming in Cincinnati in seven days.
Visit New York Daily News at www.nydailynews.com