The Jets lost their Week 15 game to the Detroit Lions. That makes it our sad duty to hand out anti-game balls to some of the biggest culprits in the defeat.
Robert Saleh: The head coach frequently gets too much credit when the team wins and takes too much blame when the team loses. Sometimes, however, the coach’s impact at a certain point in the game plays a big role in the outcome.
I don’t see any way to defend Saleh’s clock management on the Jets’ final offensive drive in this game. There are different valid approaches to managing timeouts on a two minute drill. Some coaches are willing to let time run off the clock to have a timeout in his back pocket to prevent the clock from running out. Others like to be aggressive to preserve time.
When a team runs out of time and maintains a timeout as the clock is expiring, the coach has mismanaged the game. The Jets had two sequences on their final drive where they lost 23 seconds or more after a play. Perhaps Saleh was attempting to take the second approach I outlined above, but he took it too far. Had the Jets just gotten Greg Zuerlein a little bit closer, he likely would have made the field goal to send the game to overtime. Those 23 seconds would have been just enough time to do it.
Braden Mann: The game against the Lions got off to a terrible start for the Jets. The defense made a goal line stand on the first series. They did, however, allow the Lions to drive right down the field. This left the offense with its back to the goal line for its first possession. Unfortunately, the unit was unable to overcome the adversity.
This in turn left the Jets punting from a constricted area. That can be a recipe for trouble. However, a punter can still bail his team out. Mann instead kicked an awful punt, which put Kalif Raymond in position to return it for a touchdown. It was the start of an ugly game for the third year punter.
Mann might have ended the day with a 50 yard average, but he wasn’t efficient. After the ill fated punt return, he pinned Detroit inside the 20 only once while kicking 3 touchbacks. Mann might not have been the main reason the Jets lost, but he wasn’t helping anything.
CJ Mosley: I don’t know whether Mosley was initially assigned to cover Brock Wright at the start of the game’s decisive play, but based on the way things flowed I am pretty confident he needed to pick Wright up. He was the last defender who could have prevented the catch. While some of the other defenders on the field like Michael Carter II have culpability for taking a bad angle, Mosley seemed to me to be the most culpable.
Offensive Line: Everybody else on this list gets an anti-game ball for a specific play or sequence. The offensive line was the unit that played at the lowest level consistently over the course of the game. Even with Detroit’s run defense playing improved football of late, the Jets should have been able to generate more on the ground. I put more of the failure to do so on the blocking than on Bam Knight. The running back was consistently being met near or behind the line of scrimmage. The pass protection for Zach Wilson was also not where it needed to be. It isn’t easy for a line that has had so many injuries this year. Even though guys are getting heathy, it is difficult to generate chemistry when the players are reshuffling every week. That said, poor blocking for the Jets was one of the stories of this game.