NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets must do these three things to win their first game in Week 4.
The NY Jets and Denver Broncos enter Thursday night’s game winless. Could the Jets get their first win of the season, or will this be Adam Gase’s final game as head coach of the franchise?
The central storyline going into this game for the Jets is the future of Adam Gase. Recent reports suggest that ownership is closely scrutinizing the job performance of Gase and that a change could be imminent.
If that’s the case, another Jets loss could produce a new head coach by Friday morning. Presumably, in-house option Gregg Williams in an interim role.
Not only is this game a quick turnaround for the Jets, but an in-season firing of Gase would also be. To this point, Jets owner Christopher Johnson has sworn his allegiance to his hand-picked head coach, publicly defending and justifying Adam Gase as the leader of the franchise.
Johnson leaned on New York’s 6-2 finish last season as a positive sign that the ship was sailing in the right direction. To quote former New York Knicks player Michael Ray Richardson, “the ship be sinking.”
It’s hard to justify or defend the type of football that the Jets are playing. The team has not been competitive. The prized asset of the franchise, quarterback Sam Darnold, has regressed.
Injuries and a lack of overall talent have also played a significant part in the team’s poor performance, but the lack of direction, identity, or leadership is alarming.
One could only imagine what Thursday night’s game at home would be like if the Jets were allowed to have fans in attendance. That’s if any fans would even show up for the game.
In these times of social distancing, fans of the franchise are distancing themselves from the Jets in droves, and can you blame them? Viewership and interest of the team are at an all-time low.
A new low can be reached this Thursday night. The Jets are in primetime, facing an opponent that is eerily similar and on the same level as they are right now. The Denver Broncos are down to Option C at quarterback, Brett Rypien.
Because of the quick turnaround, the Jets are being spared the possibility of facing recently signed Blake Bortles. You know things are bad when you are hoping that you don’t have to face Bortles.
Although it’s a scenario that Jets fans are rooting against, a victory by the Jets over the Broncos might give Adam Gase a reprieve. If Gase wants to live to see another game, here are the three keys to a victory on Thursday night.
Next: 3. Jets special teams need to make an impact
3. NY Jets special teams need to make an impact
As silly and unrealistic as it seems to list the keys to a potential Jets victory, it may appear even more out there to document the Jets’ special teams as one of them. However, if you consider the opponent that the Jets are facing in Denver, the Broncos have had struggles in this area.
In Weeks 2 and 3, Denver had a muffed punt in the end zone for a safety against Pittsburgh, and this past Sunday, the Bucs blocked a Broncos punt deep in their end. Denver’s special teams have also had issues with penalties.
In games where the teams are evenly matched, and in this setting, both the Jets and Broncos are desperate and winless. The difference in winning your first game can come down to making a few key plays on special teams that can help tilt a close contest in your favor.
For all the talk and focus on Adam Gase’s offense and Gregg Williams defense, and understandably so, Brant Boyer’s special teams unit has been under the radar and invisible. In recent years, the Jets’ special teams have been a bright spot for the team.
Boyer’s special teams’ units have graded out as one of the league’s very best, but it’s been a long time since the Jets have had any plays of impact from this area.
Thursday night would be an excellent time to start.
Next: 2. The Jets defense has to be aggressive
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
2. The NY Jets defense has to be aggressive
There’s no getting around it, Gregg Williams has been outcoached by Brian Daboll, Kyle Shanahan, and Frank Reich in the first three weeks of the season.
Many supporters of Williams will accurately point out how outmanned the Jets defense is but in the game of chess that football is, his opponents have served Gregg Williams checkmates.
The same creativity that Williams showed last year with the Jets defense has not materialized in the first three weeks of the season.
New York’s defense has accounted for only six sacks in three games, and half of them were from defensive backs in Week 1. To make matters worse, defensive players have vocally expressed issues with the unit’s tempo in practice.
A conspiracy theorist might surmise that Williams is sabotaging his defense to ensure his rise to head coach of the Jets but poor tackling and play design is not exactly an endorsement for Williams being able to get the most out of his players.
It certainly doesn’t instill faith in a potential Gregg Williams regime, which could be coming sooner rather than later.
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The truth is that the Jets defense is not that much different than it was last year. Sure, all-world safety and energy source Jamal Adams is gone, but New York is returning many of the players they had on defense from last season.
You could argue that the Jets front office didn’t do enough to improve the defense, but Williams did a much better job with this group of players last year.
The Jets opponent this week, Denver, has allowed 13 sacks in their last two games. Admittedly, from two of the best defenses in the entire sport in Tampa and Pittsburgh, but the Jets need to adopt the same aggressive gameplan those teams had against the Broncos.
The Jets defense against Indianapolis was sitting back in coverage and letting the Colts offense dictate where the ball was headed. It’s no secret that New York doesn’t have a great pass rusher on the roster.
This has been the case for a long time, but the Jets defense that Gregg Williams put on the field last year forced the issue for opposing quarterbacks.
New York’s defense and it’s coordinator or soon to be head coach, need to get back to that style, and Denver would be an ideal opponent for the change in philosophy.
Next: 1. Sam Darnold needs to elevate his game
1. The NY Jets need Sam Darnold to elevate his game
No player on the NY Jets right now is under more scrutiny than Sam Darnold is. For better or for worse, the bloom is off the rose for New York’s franchise quarterback.
In Darnold’s defense, his struggles can be attributed to several different factors. Chief among them is the lack of support around him.
Sam Darnold is playing with a ragtag group of receivers, no Le’Veon Bell, and with each day and game that passes, another injury to a critical player takes place.
See rookie stalwart offensive tackle, Mekhi Becton, who thankfully for all Jets nation, appears to be OK. Plenty of excuses for Sam Darnold’s level of play in year three.
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However, what can’t be excused is the poor decision making that Darnold has had in his now third-season as a starter. Darnold is pressing and trying to do everything on his own, and it shows. The two best plays of the Jets season have been a result of Darnold making plays off-script.
The talent is evident, and there are glimpses of brilliance from Darnold at times, but for him to be the franchise quarterback that everyone expects.
He needs to play better and smarter. The Jets had opportunities against the Colts on Sunday to keep the game competitive, but Darnold cost his team with three game-changing turnovers.
The savior of the Jets franchise might still be Sam Darnold, but until he starts to produce like one. Doubt will continue to grow.
It doesn’t help that for some, this game between two winless teams is thought of as a key in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes, with the losing team getting one step closer to drafting the perceived ultimate savior.
Darnold’s opponent on Thursday, Denver, has had significant struggles against opposing quarterbacks this season.
Ryan Tannehill threw for 249 yards and two scores in Week 1 against the Broncos. In Week 2, Ben Roethlisberger threw for 311 yards and two scores, and this past Sunday, Tom Brady had three passing touchdowns while throwing for 297 yards.
The Jets offense is nowhere near the level of the Titans, Steelers, or Bucs but Sam Darnold needs to play better than he has if the Jets want to have a chance to win games.
And help may be on the way for the Jets current franchise quarterback. It appears as if Darnold’s best target in the passing game, Jamison Crowder will be returning.
Adam Gase might have his future at stake on Thursday night, but Darnold’s long-term future with the Jets might hang in the balance as well.