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The Jets suffered a heartbreaking 31-28 loss on a last-second touchdown by the Raiders on Sunday. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game.
1. Everyone can agree that Gregg Williams’ decision to call a Cover 0 blitz on the Raiders’ final play was dumb and it cost him his job. He left Lamar Jackson, a 22-year-old rookie who was undrafted, in single coverage against Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs III, one of the fastest men in football. That led to Derek Carr’s 46-yard touchdown to Ruggs and one of the most improbable losses the Jets have ever had.
One question that I think is interesting is: what is Adam Gase’s role in this? Should he have overruled his defensive coordinator when he heard the call? After all, he is the head coach.
I don’t think Gase could overrule Williams there because this is the setup the Jets have had from Day 1 with Gase: he runs the offense, Williams runs the defense. At his introductory press conference, Gase said he was going to hire a head coach for the defense. Now, he is going to tell Williams what to do in a situation with the game on the line? That does not make sense.
But here is the issue and one that Jets ownership and management need to think long and hard about – is this the right setup? Williams was fired Monday. Gase surely will follow at the end of the season. Christopher Johnson and Joe Douglas need to think about what they want in their next head coach. To me, they need to find a CEO type, someone who is going to lead the offense, the defense, the special teams, the training staff, the scouting staff, the janitorial staff, everyone in the building. They need a unifier.
The tendency is to hire a coach who is a good coordinator. Go get the guy who is calling the plays for the best offense or defense out there. That does not always work. The Jets’ last three head coaches have been preoccupied by their side of the ball. Gase only worries about offense. Todd Bowles and Rex Ryan only worried about defense. It creates a division in the team and leads to the head coach not being involved in critical decisions for his team.
The problem for Gase with the Williams call did not come Sunday. It came in January of 2019 when he hired him and gave him free reign over the defense. Gase gave him autonomy. He could not then pull that back when there were 13 seconds left in the game Sunday.
2. I have seen a lot of chatter this morning on Twitter and TV about this is just who Williams is and everyone should just accept that. It is true that Williams is an aggressive play-caller and he has had success blitzing in his career, but that is not who he has been this year. Williams has played a ton of soft zone coverage this year because he has not trusted his cornerbacks, rightly so. Williams has a lot of inexperience in his secondary. He should be doing whatever he can to protect those young players from being in bad situations. He did the exact opposite on Sunday with the game on the line.
It is fine to be aggressive … if you have the personnel to be aggressive with. These were the players on the field for that final play: Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Harvey Langi, Neville Hewitt, Jordan Jenkins, Tarell Basham, Javelin Guidry, Matthias Farley, Bryce Hall, Marcus Maye and Jackson.
Of those 11, only five were Week 1 starters for the Jets. Three of these players did not even start Sunday’s game. Two players, including Jackson, are undrafted rookies. There were three total rookies on the field. The secondary consisted of three rookies, a backup and Maye. That is not the kind of secondary that makes you want to take chances.
So yes, Williams has loved to blitz. When he was with the Saints or the Rams and had good defenses, it made some sense. It still would not make sense in that situation Sunday. With the Jets? It was beyond stupid.
3. For all of you who are coming up with conspiracy theories that the Jets somehow ordered Williams to blow the game, just stop. It is beyond ridiculous. The Jets did not do that on purpose. There surely is a thought in people high up in the Jets organization that losing is not all that bad because it will get them the No. 1 pick. That being said, those people still don’t want to see players and coaches they care about suffering.
The decision to fire Williams on Monday morning should answer any questions about how the Jets organization feels about his decision.
If the Jets were tanking, it would not be by phantom calls at the end of games. They would be starting players who are not ready to play over more qualified players. If they started rookie James Morgan at quarterback over a healthy Sam Darnold and Joe Flacco, then you have a case that they are tanking. This was just a bad call by an ego-driven coach.
4. After the Jets blew a 10-point lead to the Patriots on “Monday Night Football” last month I figured they were done. I did not think the team could bounce back from that and play competitive football. They had their hearts ripped out that night. But they did and they played strong games against the Chargers and then the Raiders with a clunker against the Dolphins in between.
Now? After this? I have no idea how the Jets players just don’t pack it in and go through the motions for the final four games. I also don’t know how the Jets players have any belief left in their coaches. They are 0-12 and their defensive coordinator just cost them a football game. Things could get very, very ugly over the final four weeks.
ESPN’s win probability model had the Jets with a 96.8 percent chance to win the game before Carr’s touchdown pass to Ruggs. They were that close to winning.
Surprising snap count
Rookie cornerback Javelin Guidry played 36 snaps at slot corner, replacing Arthur Maulet. There was no announced injury for Maulet so it looks like Guidry just replaced him. He made a key play, forcing the fumble from Ruggs that set up the go-ahead touchdown for the Jets.
Running back Ty Johnson ran for 102 yards on 22 carries and scored a touchdown after replacing Frank Gore, who suffered a concussion on the second play of the game. Johnson showed burst and ran the ball hard. He is the first Jets running back to gain 100 yards on the ground since 2018.