There isn’t an easy way to quantify how much of an NFL team’s success (or lack of it) is due to talent and how much is due to coaching. This topic is the subject of many debates. Did Bill Belichick or Tom Brady have more to do with New England’s two decade run of success? Did Mike McCarthy help the Packers, or did he hold back Aaron Rodgers?
This topic has been discussed at length in the negative sense for the Jets over the last two years. We know the Jets have been bad. We know the talent on the roster is near the bottom of the league. How much blame does Adam Gase deserve? Have he and his coaching staff gotten a fair chance?
It might not reasonable to expect the Jets to have a winning record with their talent level, but I also don’t think they should be 0-10. Today’s loss to the Chargers epitomized to me how bad the coaching staff on the Jets really is.
There are certain situations I believe show the true quality of coaching. One of those situations is a team’s performance after its bye week. With an extra week to prepare I think a well coached team should be able to punch above its figurative weight class.
The Jets came out of their bye week and fell behind 24-6 at halftime. It’s tough to say they were totally overmatched. Their opponent entered this game with a 2-7 record.
Another area where I judge coaching is how composed a team stays during periods of adversity. When we last saw the Jets, they completely fell apart in the fourth quarter against New England. They actually started the game playing pretty well. They led 6-0. Then Joe Flacco threw an ugly pick six near his own goal line on an ill-advised pass. What followed was Los Angeles taking control of the game and the aforementioned 24-6 halftime lead. The wheels totally fell off for the Jets.
In the second half the Jets got things going on offense. Facing such a deficit, the Jets had little choice but to try and make big plays throwing down the field. What we found out was the Los Angeles cornerbacks had a lot of difficulty with the speed of Breshad Perriman and the size of Denzel Mims. These turned into favorable matchups for the Jets. The Jets hit multiple big plays and drew multiple penalties targeting these receivers deep.
This makes the initial gameplan even more egregious. In the first half where the team scored only 6 points there were a grand total of two passes targeting wide receivers. Under any circumstances this would be a baffling figure. When considering how favorable the matchups were, it feels like malpractice.
The Jets scored their 6 points on the first drive with multiple runs behind Mekhi Becton. The team clearly built its gameplan around the run game. Despite trailing by double digits for most of the second half, the Jets had more rushing attempts than passing attempts until 6:00 remained in the fourth quarter. Those runs behind Becton largely ceased after that first drive.
On the defensive side of the ball, Gregg Williams was in a very difficult spot. He had to play a secondary full of inexperienced, second tier prospects. He had no top tier pass rushers up front. He was facing a rookie quarterback in Justin Herbert who looked very impressive and made some excellent plays. The Jets still failed to do anything to make Herbert feel uncomfortable. At the very least, it took far too long for the Jets to adjust and make a concerted effort to try and take away Keenan Allen. While the defense was undermanned, there could have been a better attempt to force Herbert away from his top option.
Then we could talk about time management as the Jets inexplicably wasted a valuable timeout prior to a fourth down play on the final drive. That timeout could have at least helped the Jets extend the game and get the ball back with a defensive stop after that fourth down play failed.
Players failed to execute, sure. The team still has a talent deficit at key areas. But where it matters this might have been the easiest game in the Gase Era to draw a clear line to the ways coaching is making this team worse. This game should have been won. This game would have been won by a better coaching staff.
If you are rooting for the Jets to go 0-16 to get Trevor Lawrence you might hear this and be thrilled with the coaches. Just understand that the coaching needs to change for this team to go anywhere after Lawrence arrives in New York. Otherwise we will be having this same discussion after plenty of losses in 2021.