I really don’t know what’s left to say at this point. I feel like I could just copy and paste the recaps I wrote for roughly half of the games Adam Gase has coached with the Jets, change the score and the name of the opponent, and you’d have a good idea what happened.
The New York Jets are a complete mess right now on all levels. I’m not sure whether they will be the worst team in the league by the end of the season, but I feel pretty confident in saying this is the worst team in the NFL right now.
The reasons the Jets have looked so terrible are numerous.
Injuries certainly played a role. Alec Ogletree was on the practice squad. He might be the most immobile linebacker in professional football at this point, but he was pressed into duty because of injuries the team has suffered at the position. He was unable to come up with a tackle on a number of key runs that went against the Jets in this game.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Jets were without all three starting wide receivers after Breshad Perriman left the game hurt. In their places were guys who really don’t have much business seeing playing time in the NFL.
In fairness, the 49ers were arguably more decimated by injuries. They started this game without George Kittle, Richard Sherman, and Dee Ford. Within the game they lost Jimmy Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, and Nick Bosa. It’s tough to use injuries as an excuse to not even play a competitive game when the Niners are running out their JV squad, but they were a factor.
The Jets also have players who are just underperforming. Chris Herndon is the only healthy starting skill player, and he kept dropping passes.
We all understand Marcus Maye isn’t Jamal Adams. His Adams type production in Week 1 against Buffalo was unsustainable. The hope was clearly that he would have a softer fall than we saw today where he allowed a pair of touchdowns to Jordan Reed. Maye isn’t as good as the player we saw last week, but he surely isn’t as bad as the guy who looked lost against San Francisco.
Maye’s partner Bradley McDougald had a rough day, taking bad angles on multiple big runs. Bless Austin followed up a strong Week 1 performance with an ugly Week 2 that included key completions allowed in coverage and missed tackles.
Once we get past the injuries and the underperformers, it is fairly obvious that the roster as a whole needs a lot of work. The issues here weren’t build overnight. They are the result of years of horrific drafting and awful free agent deals by Mike Maccagnan and to a lesser extent John Idzik.
Joe Douglas might deserve a small amount of blame, but he could only do so much this offseason. Maccagnan’s 2019 free agency spending spree largely limited the Jets’ ability to work in free agency in 2020, and there were too many holes to fill. Douglas opted to prioritize the offensive line. At least there seems to be a positive development there as rookie Mekhi Becton is showing a lot of promise. Many of Douglas’ moderate free agent deals aren’t faring as well both on the line and elsewhere. Still he inherited a mess and has had neither the time nor the resources to fix all of the issues.
The failures of Maccagnan still loom large over this team more than a year after his firing.
Criticizing the coaching is always the low hanging fruit of a failing team. It’s almost too easy to point the finger at Adam Gase and his staff.
The current roster presents major challenges. It isn’t easy to scheme around such a lack of talent.
Still you have to at least try.
I don’t have a major problem with having Frank Gore on the roster in theory. If you want him to take La’Mical Perine under his wing and show him what it takes on and off the field to be a successful pro, he could have some value. He might even be able to handle 5 or so touches in a game without hurting the team.
I don’t care that Le’Veon Bell is out injured or that the Jets have practice squad level talent at wide receiver. Under no circumstances is Gore getting 15 carries in a half going to result in good things for the Jets.
TV announcers love Frank Gore and rave about every 2 or 3 yard gain. When you run the ball 15 times in two quarters and can’t even gain 50 yards on the ground, it isn’t helping the team, however.
Rarely in the game plan did we see any attempt to utilize the speed of the players who were on the field or figure out concepts to manipulate defenders.
It’s difficult to fix problems when you can’t diagnose them. If you want an idea of the phrase “out of touch with reality” this video should provide it.
Adam Gase says the Jets "moved the ball early" in the first half, but injury issues caused the offense to stagnate. pic.twitter.com/kDfR0TYsnM— Jets Videos (@snyjets) September 20, 2020
What you ended up with was a game plan that made the quarterback irrelevant. I don’t know how you can say Sam Darnold was good or bad in this game. The Jets didn’t really put him in a position to do anything other than hand the ball off to Gore or throw screen passes. That isn’t going to do anything to help his development.
Really what you are seeing as much as anything is organizational dysfunction dragging down the development of this quarterback. Certainly Sam Darnold has issues that need to be worked out, and there are some alarming things about his trajectory that can only be blamed on him. At the same time, it’s also not difficult to see how a bad surrounding roster and coaching could be dragging him down.
It is possible Darnold just isn’t very good and would struggle in any situation. Still it’s worth noting that a quarterback in Tennessee, Ryan Tannehill, has seen a vast increase in his production after leaving behind a poor situation with this exact same coaching and moving to an organization with a plan.
Aside from the injuries all of these issues with the Jets can ultimately be traced back to a single catastrophic decision, Christopher Johnson allowing Mike Maccagnan to stay after the 2018 season to run the 2019 offseason. It led to that ineffective free agent spending spree that left core spots on the roster barren. It tied up cap space and reduced the cash flow to fix things this past offseason. It contributed to the catastrophic process of the coaching search that ultimately led to the hiring of Adam Gase.
Close to two year later, this one horrific decision still has major implications on this franchise. This isn’t a surprise. I knew this was a very realistic potential outcome at the time. You likely did too.
It was obvious at the time Maccagnan needed to be fired. Johnson was five months away from firing him anyway. Had he done so, he would have handed a new GM a ton of cap space, a ton pick, and a blank slate to start building. In not doing so he delayed the rebuild by two years. I’m not sure which of these is most infuriating.
These are things to consider as you think about Christopher Johnson’s comments this past week speaking about how good this team and Adam Gase will be in 2020 and beyond. He ultimately made the decisions that got us to this point. We talked about many problems, but you could argue there’s really only one problem, ownership. I know I’ve repeated these things over and over, but you can’t explain the current state of the Jets without stating them once more.
We can only hope Mr. Johnson is starting to figure out how much damage he has done and is willing and able to learn from his mistakes.