A bizarre week, even by the New York Jets’ standards, included the release of a player who 19 months ago was projected to be one of the centerpieces of their rebuilding project.
The effects of the decision to Jettison unhappy former All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell will begin to be felt today when the winless Jets visit Miami. But by the end of the week, that transaction almost was overshadowed, if that’s possible, by two quotes which again demonstrated why the Jets will never more very far forward until their management structure changes.
On Monday, based on a question I asked him, embattled New York head coach Adam Gase indicated that he was considering relinquishing play-calling duties for the team’s offense, the lowest-ranked in the league, on a temporary basis.
But by Wednesday, he said he had decided against it.
“We talked about it as a staff,” Gase told reporters in his daily Zoom news conference. “None of the guys (assistant coaches) thought that was the right move to make. Nobody thought that was the reason why anything is going the way it is going.”
Now keep in mind that most, if not all, of the assistants on the offensive side of the ball were brought in by—you guessed it—Adam Gase. Moreover, when was the last time any of you folks out there told your supervisor that he or she was doing a crummy job and should relinquish some of his or her responsibilities? Quick show of hands?
Figured as much.
Again, the problem with the Jets’ organizational hierarchy is that Gase and general manager Joe Douglas are considered equals who both report to acting owner Christopher Johnson. Thus, Douglas is not empowered to make Gase give up play-calling duties and take a macro look at coaching the whole team on game days, and obviously the still-smitten Johnson won’t make him do it.
Thus, the status quo prevails when it should not. A fresh look desperately is needed for the Jets’ moribund offense.
However, things aren’t great on the other side of the line of scrimmage, either. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams got testy two days later when asked about the Jets’ defensive yield of 32.2 points per game, which ranks third-from-last in the NFL.
“It’s not a very good number,” Williams replied, “and a lot of it’s not all defensively, but it’s not a very good number. … We’ve got to do a good job with that and how you do that is make them kick more field goals, got to do a better job in field position type things and as you see the scoring is up in the league, but it still makes me sick.
“The biggest part of it is,” he added, “when they get into those scoring areas, make them kick field goals, don’t let them cross the goal line.”
When asked about how it’s not all a defensive thing, Williams replied, “Yeah, you just figure it out.”
Granted, it is true that two pick-sixes by quarterback Sam Darnold against Indianapolis skewed the point total. Still, the Jets are allowing 6.0 yards per play, 22nd in the league, and are rated 25th in pass defense. Yes, the offense’s penchant for three-and-outs hasn’t given Williams’ defense much rest, but he hasn’t helped matters with bizarre personnel decisions.
The decision to move free safety Marcus Maye to strong safety in place of the traded Jamal Adams hasn’t worked out. After posting two sacks as a blitzer against Buffalo in the season opener, Maye has not played well, and has been exploited in the running game, an area in which Adams excelled. Maye completely overran the play on Chase Edmonds’ 29-yard touchdown run in the loss to Arizona last week.
Third-year linebacker Harvey Langi played well in relief on opening day against Buffalo after starter Blake Cashman was lost to an injury, playing 83 snaps on defense with six tackles and a pass breakup that saved a touchdown. Since then, he has had three defensive snaps and played almost exclusively on special teams.
Veteran linebacker Alec Ogletree, who played in Williams’ defense in the past, started against San Francisco 10 days after being signed. He was completely out of position on two long runs, one an 80-yard TD, and was released shortly thereafter.
Williams started undrafted free agent cornerback Lamar Jackson against star Arizona wideout DeAndre Hopkins last week, instead of veteran Quincy Wilson, who had started in Week 2 against the 49ers. Jackson was picked on all day.
But again, it apparently isn’t within Douglas’ purview to ask Williams about his strange lineup choices. Worse yet, it seems it is beyond Gase’s boundaries, as well. The two had never worked together before, and Williams wasn’t hired until seven days after the news of Gase’s hiring broke in January 2019.
And with Gase’s laser-focus on his offensive playsheets, Williams is allowed to operate autonomously when he clearly needs oversight. Under the Jets’ structure, he doesn’t get that.
Whenever a new head coach is hired, and it seems a matter of when, not if, this must change. There are many reasons why New York hasn’t visited the post-season since 2010, and this is a major one.
Someone, and Douglas is the most likely candidate, has to be in charge, and has to have the power to at least strongly suggest to the head coach and defensive coordinator what changes must be made in terms of philosophy, play-calling, personnel, etc. He cannot be a bystander, because this is what the result is.
Closing the door on Bell. With Bell gone (and on his way to Kansas City), it needs to be noted that this was yet another failure on the part of ex-general manager Mike Maccagnan.
It was Maccagnan who signed Bell to a four-year, $52 million deal worth $27 million in guarantees, even though Gase prefers running back by committee setups and doesn’t like having a bellwether running back getting the majority of the work.
Shortly thereafter, word leaked out via nfl.com that Gase believed Maccagnan had overpaid in free agency for both Bell and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley ($43 million in guaranteed money, per overthecap.com), who opted out of the 2020 season because of coronavirus concerns and already had collected a $10 million roster bonus in March.
Although Gase shouldn’t have said that to anyone, he actually was right. And that points out yet another of Maccagnan’s shortcomings, a failure to understand the finances of the modern NFL game. Running back and inside linebacker simply aren’t premier positions. Running back used to be, but is not anymore. Thus, overpaying for players at those spots, no matter how great they may be, is a recipe for salary-cap disaster.
In a way, he did the same thing with Adams. Safety also isn’t a premium position, and since 2010, only two safeties have been drafted in the top 10 overall, with Adams the highest at No. 6 in 2017. Although Douglas has made mistakes in his 16 months on the job, he clearly has a better understanding of NFL Economics 101, which should help the Jets going forward.
Source: Forbes – Business