For the first time in 2020, Adam Gase took the podium with Le'Veon Bell no longer a part of his team.
The Jets released Bell on Tuesday after a little over a year's worth of time together in which Bell rushed 264 times for 863 yards -- a paltry 3.27 yards per carry -- and three scores. Once seen as the NFL's best back, Bell became a nonfactor, bringing about questions of his usage.
Gase -- the man in charge of deciding on such usage -- told reporters Wednesday the topic no longer matters.
"It's irrelevant at this point," he said. "It didn't work out. It didn't work out. We're going to focus on this game right now."
Bell's release came just days after he took his displeasure to Twitter, going on a liking spree with tweets griping about Bell's lack of worthwhile touches in 2020. This came after he saw a season-high 13 carries (gaining 60 yards) and caught his lone target for seven yards.
That simply isn't the type of usage you anticipate when spending $52 million over four years on a star runner. Instead, it becomes a waste of salary and cap space.
One might chalk up Bell's lack of production to a lack of availability, which is slightly true, but his employer did him very few favors. An attempt to quickly revamp the offensive line blew up in the Jets' faces last season, producing the league's worst expected yards per carry mark at 3.81; when Bell was given the ball, the expectation was even worse at 3.7. Bell couldn't find the space needed over a season's worth of time to lift the Jets closer to the 4 YPC mark, either, posting a rushing yards over expectation per carry rate of -0.4.
Simply, very few Jets have done anything of note in New York's offense since Bell arrived.
That responsibility falls on the shoulders of Gase, who was hired with a lingering reputation as being an innovative offensive mind, and has since produced an ugly mess of a unit that has contributed to the NFL's worst per-game scoring margin at -17.2 points per game.
"At the end of the day offensively, we haven't really done a whole bunch to really impress anybody right now," Gase said. "We've got a lot of things we've got to get corrected. We've got a lot of things that we've got to get better. We've got to coach better. We've got to play better. And that's really the entire team."
NFL Network's Kim Jones reported Gase will not give up play-calling duties after briefly considering it and ultimately deciding against it. The definition of insanity has yet to have an effect, it seems.
Bell's departure might, though, as Gase said the Jets will now turn to sturdy veteran Frank Gore and youngster La'Mical Perine to man the backfield moving forward. Whether that produces any noticeable improvement remains to be seen, and if the last few weeks are any proof, the Jets should probably be more focused on the health of their franchise quarterback than anything else (New York is 11-19 with Darnold and 0-7 without him since 2018). Sam Darnold (shoulder) won't play Sunday, Gase said Wednesday, and veteran Joe Flacco will start in his place.
The 2020 Jets' tale is not yet finished, even if Jets fans might feel as if the season was lost weeks ago. Their union with Bell is indeed over, though, and he'll now be free to again choose his employer for the second time since the 2019 offseason.
"For whatever reason it didn't work out," Gase said. "Our team is moving forward to Miami, that's the No. 1 concern for us right now. ... I'm sure he'll get an opportunity somewhere else. We'll see what happens."
Down in Philadelphia, Doug Pederson became the latest coach to receive the standard "a star is available, will you pursue him?" question from the local media. He relied on sound logic to end any legitimate consideration of a Bell-Eagles pairing, pointing to the Eagles' excitement about second-year back Miles Sanders as a fine reason for standing pat and wishing Bell the best.
"Obviously, Le'Veon's a good player and he's had a lot of production in this league, but I'm excited about Miles, what he's done, getting Boston interjected into the system, getting Corey (Clement) an opportunity," Pederson said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia.
"This is a situation where I think we have found our three-down guy in Miles and that's something that we've been looking for, as you guys know. So we're thrilled about that and we're also excited about the young guys behind him. Well, they're all young -- with Boston (Scott), Corey (Clement) and even (Jason) Huntley. This is a guy that's got some speed and athleticism. So there's room to grow there, there's room to get better, but I'm excited about the guys we have."
Perhaps Bell will return to his 2017 form as part of a competent offense, but for now, his next destination remains to be determined. The chapter in New York appears to be one everyone involved is happy to leave in the past.