The Jets lost to the Dolphins 20-3 on Sunday, falling to 0-11 this season. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:
1. There are so many damning things about the Adam Gase era that it is hard to prioritize which one outranks the others. You could spend hours coming up with statistics that show how awful the Jets have been under his watch. But to me maybe the most damning thing is this: The team has no identity on either side of the ball 27 games into his time here.
What are the Jets as an offense? They are not overly physical. They are not overly finesse. They don’t set up the pass with the run or set up the run with the pass. They throw a lot of wide receiver screens and hand the ball off to Frank Gore a bunch.
What are the Jets as a defense? The announcers love to talk about how aggressive defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is every week. Maybe that was true once upon a time, but not now. Now Williams is scared to blitz most of the time because he has no faith in his cornerbacks. The Jets don’t rush the passer well. They don’t play coverage well. They are decent against the run.
I have never sensed a vision for this team in two years. Honestly, I have not sensed a vision since Rex Ryan was the coach. Todd Bowles struggled in this department, too. You knew when Ryan was here the Jets wanted to run the ball and play good defense. In his first two years, that worked.
When I look back at Gase’s introductory press conference, the biggest issue was not his eyes, but his vision. Everyone had fun with the memes of his eyes. But Gase did not say anything substantial that day about his vision for the team. That was troubling. You try not to put too much stock in press conferences, but that problem has been realized.
Whoever replaces Gase needs to have a firm vision of how they want their team to play on both sides of the ball, the type of players they want here and be able to articulate that to everyone from ownership to the fans.
2. We have been setting up this stretch run as a “tryout” for Sam Darnold to see if he can show he deserves to be the quarterback of the Jets going forward or if the team should move on. I think Sunday showed the issue with that idea. We know what Darnold is. Five games at the end of this miserable season are not going to change anything. If Darnold plays well against the Raiders on Sunday, are you going to be convinced he is the guy?
There is just too much evidence that Darnold is not the franchise quarterback the Jets thought they were drafting in 2018. That is not all on Darnold, of course. The organization did not help him with their choices on coaches and players around him. But Darnold also gets plenty of blame here. His poor decision-making was on display again Sunday. Darnold’s first interception was inexcusable. This was the concern about Darnold coming out of USC. He turned the ball over a lot in his final year in college. It has not gone away in the NFL.
There are still people in the NFL who believe Darnold can be salvaged if he goes to a team with a better supporting cast and coaching staff. I think Darnold would benefit from sitting and watching for a year. That could help clear his mind and get him 100 percent physically. Maybe a fresh start will help him, but it is clear that he is not turning things around with the Jets.
3. The play-calling was in the spotlight again, specifically who was calling the plays and Gase’s postgame answers about it.
Here is my read on the situation: Gase has gradually taken back more play-calling from Dowell Loggains since turning it over to him against the Bills last month. It is pretty clear, and they have said as much, that Gase is now involved again. I think the two are splitting the play-calling, but Gase does not want to reveal exactly how because he views it as a competitive advantage. He does not want the opponent to know if he is calling all the red zone plays or Loggains is calling all play-action passes. Smart coaches can get a read on the play-calling that way.
Where Gase screwed up on Sunday was how he answered the questions postgame. He was elusive and threw out a word salad. I don’t think he was purposely lying. I think he was trying to avoid answering specifics about play-calling and did not do it well. That may be because he is coaching an 0-11 team and just got his butt handed to him by the team that fired him two years ago. Postgame press conferences following losses can be tricky that way.
Anyway, I think this is an issue that is only getting attention because the Jets stink. The bigger issue than who is calling the plays is the plays that are being called. It clearly was not good enough on Sunday … again. It does not matter if Gase, Loggains or the security guard is calling them.
4. Jets fans get to scoreboard watch in December. No, not to monitor the playoff chances for the Jets but to keep an eye on the Jaguars and the quest for the No. 1 overall pick. Jacksonville made things interesting Sunday against the Browns before losing 27-25. This week, the Jaguars go to Minnesota to play the Vikings. That is followed by games against the Titans, Ravens, Bears and Colts. The games with the Bears and Vikings look like their best chances at a win.
At the moment, the Jets have a one-game “lead” for the No. 1 pick at 0-11. Jacksonville is 1-10. If the Jets win a game and the two teams both go 1-15, Jacksonville will likely get the pick because the Jets have played a tougher schedule and that will be the tiebreaker. Strength of schedule will change before the end of the year, but it seems unlikely for the two teams to flip position.
That leaves Jets fans rooting for their team to lose and the Jaguars to get another win to give them some breathing room.
Tyreek Hill had 269 receiving yards Sunday against the Buccaneers. The Jets had 260 total yards.
Surprising snap count
The running back rotation continues to be puzzling. Frank Gore got 58 percent of the offensive snaps (32) and Ty Johnson had 18 percent (10) with Josh Adams getting one snap. Gore had some productive runs Sunday, but it would be nice to see Johnson get more chances.
It was another good game for Quinnen Williams, who continues to be one of the only bright spots on this team. He had seven tackles, 1 ½ sacks, three quarterback hits, two passes defensed and a forced fumble.