The winless NY Jets (0-12) delivered with another all-time demoralizing moment.
Even for such a struggling, horrible, winless NY Jets team, this is as bad a loss as a team can take. It’s more than a “most bitter pill to swallow,” it’s as heartbreaking and crushing a defeat as it gets.
This was a game the franchise should have won. How long will this one take to recover from?
First, some upside. The Jets could almost taste victory. They battled back in a roller-coaster game, down 24-13 in the third quarter with the Raiders looking ready for a blowout, taking advantage of three costly Sam Darnold turnovers, and then Gang Green rebounded with 15 points in the fourth.
The offense delivered with well-crafted creativity. The offensive line blocked solidly, setting up the pass (despite Mekhi Becton’s worst career game), with arguably the unit’s best game of the Adam Gase era.
Darnold atoned for his miscues with three TDs. A CBS graphic flashed the four 2018 first-round QBs (Darnold, Mayfield, Allen, Jackson) with similar career stats. The Florham Park brain trust may reconsider keeping the 24-year-old and coaching him up, with or without Trevor Lawrence.
The defense battled all game. Marcus Maye was blowing up plays while rookie undrafted cornerback Javelin Guidry showed promise. But this defense had no answers for tight end Darren Waller (12 receptions for 200 yards and two TDs).
The Raiders knew he could abuse this young Jets secondary. But when someone so dominates the open field, they must get physically pounded at the line of scrimmage.
We saw more questionable play-calling. Clearly, this epic meltdown falls on fired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ late-game decision-making.
But where were head coach Adam Gase’s input and decision-making? For what it’s worth, the head coach, in his post-game remarks, looked shot.
You may have heard that undrafted free agent cornerback Lamar Jackson bit on a head fake by Olympic-speed first-round WR Henry Ruggs in a walk-off touchdown for the loss. That’s the play people will remember. But there’s more to this story.
Las Vegas took the ball on their own 49 down four points. Then the Jets imploded, extending the drive with two fourth-down defensive penalties. That paved the way for this backbreaking defeat.
The dirt on Gregg Williams is that he always thinks he’s the smartest person in the room. And it was the ex-defensive coordinator’s ego that created this franchise-defining implosion.
The reeling Raiders, with no timeouts and 11 seconds away from another loss, should have faced a low-percentage pass against a soft zone or “prevent defense.”
But Williams called an all-out eight-player blitz. So the Jets’ rookie secondary was left to defend man-on-man in “zero coverage” with no room for error.
In fairness, what did you expect from a high-risk coach with no pass rush and the game on the line? But why send the house against an erratic Derek Carr wildly missing open targets?
Situational Football 101 tells you never to let the receiver get behind you in that stop-gap situation — either lay back or hold him and take the penalty. But it wasn’t played that way — it was treated like another mid-game, man-on-man showdown.
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The NY Jets’ issues all come back to coaching
And that all comes back to coaching.
You have to feel sorry for the kid, but you can’t get beat like that. The blitz is to pressure the quarterback, but you must make the play in coverage as a back. But the staff should have given Jackson more support. It was the most disgraceful ending of a game.
Emotions boiled over in the locker room. Defensive captain Marcus Maye criticized his coaching staff. “It should’ve been a better call,” he fumed, “not leaving him [Jackson] out there on an island.” Does that sound like a man anxious to return in free agency?
These are types of losses that break teams. The players have not yet tuned out the coaching staff. But how do they keep this locker room intact, considering all these players’ blood, sweat, tears, and injuries for the team?
There are far-reaching implications to this “the ship be sinking” moment. The Johnson family must think long and hard about if they want to endure this public relations disaster.
Joe Douglas needs to decide if he will clear out Darnold and/or Gase (still beloved by ownership) — though you’d think he’d run to hire Bill Cowher. And 30 free agents have to determine if they want to deal with this situation, with or without Trevor Lawrence.
The Jets’ big question mark going into 2021 involves the Clemson QB. If I was him, I’d remain for a senior year as BMOC on that bucolic South Carolina campus.
How can you watch these games and want the Jets to lose for a Hail Mary chance landing this guy?