FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Sam Darnold has been eagerly preparing the last several months to get to this week.
The New York Jets are opening their season Sunday with a new coach in Adam Gase, whose aggressive and creative approach has the second-year quarterback thinking big — on the field and on the scoreboard.
When asked what he thinks the Jets' identity is on offense, Darnold needed just one exciting adjective.
"Electric," Darnold said Monday. "I think we're going to do some fun things out there with all the tempo and all the different things we can do, so it will be fun.
"It will be fun to watch us and hopefully we are going to put up a lot of points."
That's hasn't been a characteristic of the Jets' offenses lately.
Or, really, for the last 30 years.
New York ranked 23rd in offensive scoring last season as it sputtered to a 4-12 record. Since 1989, the Jets have finished in the top 10 in points just twice: ninth in 2008, when Brett Favre played his only season for the franchise; and fifth in 1998, when Vinny Testaverde and Curtis Martin led them to the AFC title game.
In the last seven years, New York has ranked 23rd or worse in scoring in all but one year: in 2015, when the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Jets went 10-6 and ranked 11th overall, but failed to make the playoffs.
Darnold and the Jets will try to change all that starting Sunday, when they take the field against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium.
"It's starting to feel like a game week," Darnold said, "and we're ready to kick off the season and get off on the right note."
In Miami, Gase's offenses hardly resembled a high-powered juggernaut, ranking 26th, 28th and 17th in his three seasons with the Dolphins. Gase also never had a quarterback at this stage of his development like he has with the 22-year-old Darnold.
Throw in a fresh and rejuvenated Le'Veon Bell at running back and the versatile Ty Montgomery, along with a set of complementary receivers in Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and Jamison Crowder, and Gase will have a lot more options to run an offense at a much higher tempo than he had in Miami.
"I think the players we have dictate how we kind of play," Gase said recently. "I think what we we're doing last year was what we had to do and what we're kind of showing right now with this year, our players are kind of telling me that's how they'd like to play."
There's still quite a bit of intrigue leading into the opener, and it's not just surrounding how Bell will look nearly 20 months after last playing in a game.
Center Ryan Kalil came out of retirement last month and didn't play in the preseason, so there has been lots of focus on his on-field rapport with Darnold and the rest of the offensive line. Left guard Kelechi Osemele missed some time with a pectoral injury, while right guard Brian Winters was sidelined a few weeks with a shoulder injury. They're both healthy and ready to go, but the line is still jelling.
Everyone is still putting the finishing touches on getting Gase's offensive playbook down. So, the "electric" might take some time before it's cranked at full power.
"It's not like I'm expecting there to be growing pains, but if there are, we're just going to roll with them," Darnold said. "If something happens during the course of a series, I might go to the sideline and tell Gase how I'm feeling back there, how the defense is responding and all that, so we're just going to try and figure things out.
"But right now, especially, we have a really good foundation for where we want to go."
NOTES: OT Brent Qvale was placed on injured reserve after hurting his knee during training camp. ... LB Albert McClellan was re-signed after he was released Sunday. ... WR Greg Dortch, waived Monday, was signed to the practice squad, as were former Eagles RB Josh Adams and former Bears TE Ian Bunting. ... Gase said Anderson (calf) and CB Trumaine Johnson (hamstring) were "trending in the right direction" as far as their chances of playing Sunday. ... Gase would neither confirm nor deny published reports that third-rounder Jachai Polite had been fined a total of around $100,000 for repeated violations of team policy. Polite was among the Jets' cuts Saturday. "We're about the guys that do it the way that we need it done," Gase said. "Best guys are going to make the team."
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