A new coaching staff got off to a good start this season. Yesterday we took a look at the best things the coaching staff did in 2015. Now let's look at some of the bad decisions the coaches made.
Naming Geno Smith the starting quarterback
Since Ryan Fitzpatrick started all sixteen games, it is easy to forget that in May the coaching staff indicated Geno Smith would be the starting quarterback in 2015. That changed. We all know what happened.
This was a move that didn't end up hurting the team. Still, we saw why this was a poor decision in vivid display as the season went along.
Geno Smith's career performance to that point did not merit him being handed the starting job. If anything, his body of work was inferior to Fitzpatrick's. It was possible that he would grow into a better player. There was no harm in seeing how the two guys looked in training camp and making that part of the evaluation. Check out how the two guys are meshing with the new system and teammates over twenty or so practices and two preseason games. That doesn't have to be the entire basis of the decision, but there is no more important call a coach has to make than getting the quarterback position right. He needs to have all of the information possible at his disposal.
In an ideal world, you would like one person to get all of the first team practice reps and not have the noise of a competition. It is much more important to pick the correct quarterback. As it turns out, the Jets did not pick the correct quarterback, but circumstances put him into the lineup anyway.
I think in general this coaching staff did a good job of avoiding favorites and making decisions on merit. Devin Smith was one exception. We knew going into training camp that Smith's game was raw and required a lot of development. After he suffered a serious camp injury, any realistic hopes of Smith being an impact rookie likely went out the window.
Smith was not a guy who should have seen serious playing time. Yet he saw 35 or more offensive snaps in six different games. There might be no part of Smith's game as a receiver NFL ready, and it showed by how limited his production was, not to mention how infrequently he got open. Despite having a special teams reputation, he did not shine there either.
Was the coaching staff blinded by Smith's second round pick status? I am not sure, but even a relatively low upside guy like Kenbrell Thompkins would have been more worthy of playing time.
Starting Marcus Williams in Oakland
The loss to the Raiders was the worst Jets performance of the season. It was the only loss the team had where it did not at least feel like the team had a chance in the second half.
Calvin Pryor missed the game with an ankle injury. The Jets benched Dion Bailey, Pryor's backup who was pretty effective when he played, to start Marcus Williams at safety. Williams missed tackle after tackle in a brutal defensive effort. This loss was such a teamwide meltdown that nobody could reasonably argue that one decision cost the team the game. It still did not look good.
I think the whole playing Williams out of position at safety thing was overblown. Backup level players have to be versatile. I was glad Bowles did not let Williams off the hook after the game, noting tackles have to be made whether you line up at corner or safety. Still, it is tough to figure what the staff saw in practice that led them to believe it was worth benching Bailey for Williams.
This unit requires an entire section. It was an Achilles heel for the team all season and ultimately did the Jets in. Some of the issues were bad personnel decisions. Others were guys simply not performing. Some of it was coaching, though. Was Zac Stacy really the best option at kick returner? Why was it not corrected when he constantly ran balls out of the end zone and returned them short of the 20 rather than take a touchback? Why were there so many breakdowns?
This also requires its own section. It has been discussed and discussed from the lousy start to the decision to feature Stevan Ridley over Chris Ivory to letting Sammy Watkins destroy the game when he was Buffalo's only weapon. The Jets coaches have a long offseason to think about the way 2015 ended prematurely.