LAS VEGAS — The New York Jets’ season has changed into a recreation of Mad Libs. Change a number of nouns or adjectives right here and there, possibly, however on the finish, the story continues to be the identical.
The protection performs properly. The offense can’t end drives. The offense doesn’t get into the top zone. Zach Wilson makes some confounding selections. Greg Zuerlein has a busy day, kicking subject objectives, the one supply of offense. Thomas Morstead has a busy day, punting, as a result of the offense can’t persistently transfer the ball. Penalties kill drives. The protection does its job. The Jets are nonetheless within the recreation on the finish. Then it’s over.
Robert Saleh calls out the self-inflicted wounds in his postgame information convention, however feels the Jets are shut. He gained’t blame the quarterback or the offensive coordinator. The defensive gamers chunk their tongues and speak about how the crew would win if they might solely rating factors themselves, or maintain their opponents to zero factors as an alternative of three, 6, 10 or 16. The offensive gamers are confused.
Rinse, repeat. It’s all the identical — and Saleh doesn’t appear to have an itch to make the form of change that may jolt the offense into competence. He gained’t bench Wilson. He gained’t take play-calling away from offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. The Jets misplaced to the Raiders 16-12 on Sunday, a crew so dysfunctional it fired its head coach, common supervisor and offensive coordinator a number of weeks in the past, with one of many worst defenses within the league and a fourth-round rookie beginning at quarterback. And it was the identical because it ever was.
Jets fall to Raiders, Zach Wilson throws pricey late INT
If Saleh isn’t going to seize the reins of the Jets offense and do what must be performed to repair it earlier than the season fades away into nothingness — one other 12 months with out the playoffs, like so many earlier than — then possibly the gamers must take management of the scenario themselves.
“They requested me at this time: Are you OK to talk to the media?” tight finish Tyler Conklin mentioned after the sport. “I mentioned, yeah, I’ll converse, however what do you guys count on me to say? That’s the factor, it’s a damaged file at this level. We’ve gotta determine it out. We will’t preserve going out right here and doing this again and again. Letting the protection down, our crew down. I want I had solutions to (reporters’) questions on why we are able to’t rating within the purple zone, why we had plenty of penalties, all these issues, however there’s actually no good reply to offer you guys in addition to we’ve gotta determine it the f— out.”
The Jets scored on their first three drives on Sunday night time, all subject objectives. They punted on 5 consecutive drives after that, adopted by one other subject purpose, an interception by Wilson after which the clock working out on the ultimate drive. The Jets haven’t scored a landing in 11 quarters. They’ve scored 13 offensive touchdowns in 9 video games. Wilson has thrown one landing move in his final 5 video games and 5 for the season. For comparability, Josh Dobbs has accounted for six touchdowns in two video games in 12 days since getting traded to the Vikings. On the finish of Sunday’s recreation, the Jets had 5 punts, 4 subject objectives, eight penalties, 14 first downs and nil touchdowns. 5 of these first downs got here on the ultimate two drives of the sport.
“It’s irritating,” working again Breece Corridor mentioned. “I’ve been saying that for the reason that first week.”
Vast receiver Garrett Wilson appeared emotionally distraught after the sport, on the verge of tears.
“I don’t know what y’all need me to say,” Wilson mentioned. “I’m bored with this, man. I wish to play higher. The offense desires to play higher. Each week we’re attempting to make it occur. It’s irritating.”
This as dejected as I’ve seen Garrett Wilson after a loss. pic.twitter.com/80rnhVV9Cb
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) November 13, 2023
The primary phrases that got here out of Saleh’s mouth at his information convention after the sport have been the identical ones he’s mentioned nearly each week, win or lose. All anybody desires to know is why his offense has in some way gotten worse from final 12 months, when he parted with Mike LaFleur as his offensive coordinator and revamped his offensive teaching employees.
He has made plenty of excuses. The Jets haven’t been capable of finding any options.
“The exhausting half for me is after I’m watching the sport — it’s simple to have a look at the play-caller, the top coach, the quarterback,” Saleh mentioned. “However we’re shifting the ball. Immediately we moved the ball. Nevertheless it’s simply penalties, penalties on the O-line, penalties at tight finish, penalties at working again. Simply dumb, dumb stuff that we have to get cleaned up or it’s not going to alter. However we are able to clear it up and no less than give ourselves an opportunity to play clear soccer, to see what it appears to be like like. I nonetheless consider it’ll look fairly good.”
The Jets obtained to the purple zone as soon as Sunday, they usually didn’t convert. That’s the expectation at this level for the NFL’s worst red-zone offense. However the protection did its job, once more, and one other principally spectacular efficiency went to waste. The Raiders have been 5 of 15 on third down, quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for 153 yards and the Jets held star huge receiver Davante Adams with out a catch within the second half. They pressured two turnovers, together with a pressured fumble late within the fourth quarter to stifle a possible Raiders scoring drive. Then Zach Wilson turned proper round and gave it again to them when he telegraphed a move to huge receiver Allen Lazard, permitting linebacker Robert Spillane to leap in entrance of it for what turned a game-deciding interception.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) November 13, 2023
Wilson wasn’t the issue on Sunday, however he stays an issue. Wilson threw for 263 yards, however 92 got here on the ultimate two drives. The play-calling did him no favors — at instances, it appeared like Hackett was afraid to let Wilson do something however hand it off or test it down. Breece Corridor had 47 yards on three catches, however wasn’t focused till the fourth quarter, although he’s probably the most dynamic participant the Jets have with the ball in his palms.
“It’s one thing we positively want to have a look at,” Saleh mentioned.
The Jets protection — which ranks third within the NFL in Anticipated Factors Added, per TruMedia, and seventh in factors allowed — is being held to an unattainable customary. If it offers up any factors, or doesn’t rating any of its personal, the Jets are in all probability going to lose. They realize it, too. This isn’t the protection of a 4-5 crew. It’s a playoff-caliber protection caught with a middling, remedial offense.
“I’m not going to say it’s stunning,” cornerback Sauce Gardner mentioned of the 4-5 file. “We’re not enjoying complementary soccer. It’s only a reality. It ain’t no shock in any respect.”
The protection is aware of it has zero margin for error with this offense enjoying this fashion.
“Yeah, however that’s how we get coached,” Gardner mentioned. “The teaching is that if they will’t rating, they gained’t win. Whenever you embrace that, we at all times put it on us.”
Coach Saleh on QB Zach Wilson’s efficiency. pic.twitter.com/HZxPShxYj6
— New York Jets (@nyjets) November 13, 2023
Saleh could not wish to make a change, but it surely positive sounds just like the gamers are prepared for one. This week, that may come within the type of a “players-only” assembly, the cliched get-together for groups that discover themselves falling aside on the seams.
“Yeah, all of it’s on the desk,” Garrett Wilson mentioned. “We’re attempting to determine it out. I can see one thing like that happening quickly as a result of it has to. I’m going to take it upon myself. We’ve obtained some guys on this locker room that know how you can lead and we’ll see what it’s like touring again to New York, what we speak about. We now have to do one thing.”
Conklin took it additional.
“We’re positively at that time the place one thing needs to be performed,” Conklin mentioned. “We will’t go into subsequent week and roll the ball on the market and hope it will get higher. I don’t know what it’s we gotta do, however we gotta do one thing this week to get on the identical web page.”
It’s now Week 11. The Jets have performed 9 video games. The offense is worse now than it was earlier than. This needs to be a playoff crew. As an alternative, the Jets are shedding to the Raiders, and barely beating the Giants.
“It’s irritating as hell,” Conklin mentioned.
(Photograph of Garrett Wilson and Nate Hobbs: Sean M. Haffey / Getty Photographs)