Adam Gase and a disgusted Sam Darnold engaged in a brief, semi-animated sideline conversation Thursday night that was caught on TV and went viral on social media -- the first hint of possible discord between the New York Jets' coach and quarterback.
On Friday, they both downplayed the incident, insisting it was just a moment of frustration.
"We were both in the same mind frame where somebody didn't execute their job, and basically I was bitching about that and he was doing the same thing," Gase said.
Said Darnold: "We were not in a disagreement at all. It was just me being ... you know, I think just frustrated on the circumstances and what was going on in the game at the time."
The exchange happened with four minutes left in the Jets' 42-21 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. After an incomplete pass on fourth-and-1 from the Baltimore 41-yard line, Darnold walked to the sideline and was greeted by Gase, who seemed upset with his young quarterback's decision-making.
Darnold listened for a few seconds then walked away. He might have muttered something based on the reaction of backup quarterback David Fales, whose eyes got wide.
"David always has that weird look on his face," Darnold said.
Darnold stopped, came back toward Gase and made a comment to him before waving his hand in a dismissive manner. He walked away again then turned back. They continued the conversation as the camera cut away.
"For me, it was just where we were in the game, especially not executing, especially on fourth down, a key down," the quarterback said. "I was just frustrated about the circumstances. It wasn't anything more than that. We were just having a conversation about not executing the way we're supposed to, and that was really it."
The Darnold-Gase relationship is key to the future of the franchise, which has fallen on hard times in recent years. The Jets (5-9) are assured of a fourth straight losing season, their longest such streak in the Super Bowl era.
This is the first season together for Darnold and Gase, who was hired, in large part, because of his background with quarterbacks. His job is to develop Darnold, who has made marginal improvements after an up-and-down rookie year.
Darnold is ranked 27th out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks in passer rating (84.3). His play has been uneven over the past three games, with moments of brilliance -- including two touchdown passes against Baltimore's tough defense -- but also some critical errors and a passer rating of 79.9.
Gase said he believes Darnold's grasp of the offense and command at the line of scrimmage has improved steadily.
"The fact that I've see him improve every week -- and I look at all the little tiny details that nobody can see or really knows about -- that's what makes me feel really confident that he's going to be a really good player," Gase said.
Darnold got off to a terrific start against the Ravens, but he sputtered at the end of the first half. He threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-1 from the Baltimore 7-yard line, and on the ensuing possession, he threw an interception from the Baltimore 25.
"It just comes down to minimizing those couple of critical errors I make during a game," Darnold said. "If I can eliminate those, we'll be just fine."