The Jets are Frank Gore’s third AFC East team in three years. The veteran running back knows the division well. So, with Tom Brady no longer in New England, what does he think about the division that has been dominated by the Patriots for so long?
“I think it’s wide open,” Gore said in a Zoom call with reporters Thursday. “Like you said, Brady’s gone, it’s wide open. We’ve got young quarterbacks — Sam Darnold, Josh [Allen] and I don’t know what Miami is doing. I think it’s wide open. I’m going to be ready whenever we have the start and try to make it go our way.”
The Jets signed the 37-year-old running back this month, hoping he can be a strong partner for Le’Veon Bell in the backfield and provide some leadership in the locker room. Gore said he came to the Jets to be reunited with coach Adam Gase, who he played for in Miami in 2018 and was also with in 2008 with the 49ers, and because he sees the potential of a good defense, a young quarterback and Bell.
Gore is no longer the lead back he was in his earlier days, but he said he accepts his role as a backup for Bell.
“I’m cool,” Gore said. “I’m happy to even be playing this game at my age. I’m happy that this organization is giving me an opportunity. I’m just going to come in there and work, help the young guys, show the young guys that I still can play. Whenever I get my number called, I’m going to just go out there and try to make a play for our team to be successful. I’m very excited.”
Gore is No. 3 on the all-time rushing list, trailing just Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. He spent last season with the Bills, rushing for 599 yards on 166 carries. Gore said he did not contemplate retirement this offseason.
“I didn’t, because when I was playing in the first six, seven games, I was balling,” Gore said. “Buffalo wanted to start playing a younger guy [Devin Singletary]. I felt like I still can do it. I just had to see what team would give me an opportunity.”
The Raiders also showed interest, but he thought the Jets were a better situation. Gore spoke highly of Gase, saying they hit it off in San Francisco, and Gase promised him he would sign him if he became a head coach someday. Gase has now done that twice.
“Adam’s very smart,” Gore said. “If everybody’s on the same page, we can make something happen. That’s what I like about Adam. He’s very smart. He’s real. He’s a man of his word.”
Gore has not been able to meet his new teammates due to the COVID-19 restrictions. He said several times he can’t wait to get to the Jets’ building in Florham Park and get to work. Gore said he has followed Darnold since college and has heard good things about him, including from Allen last year in Buffalo.
As for Bell, Gore said he has known him since he entered the league, and he even got a jersey from Bell last year to display in his home.
“He always respected me. I respected him,” Gore said. “It will be fun, man. I’ve been around a bunch of talented running backs my whole career, even in college and the NFL. I’m going to do whatever it takes to help him, help the other guys and also help the team be successful on Sundays.”
He is also a fan of Jamal Adams, calling him “old school.”
“I respect his game a whole lot,” Gore said. “I think he’s a top safety in this league. I love the way he comes to play every down, every game. You watch the film and you can tell the kid loves the game.”