Two fourth-and-1 situations showcased the critical mentality difference between Adam Gase and Kliff Kingsbury that helped crush the Jets.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—One man preaches execution while the other thinks deception. One man is living in a different decade while the other understands the NFL in the year 2020.
The first man is Adam Gase. The second is Kliff Kingsbury. You know him. (At least the New York Jets do.) He’s the man the Jets could have hired as the newest head coach of the football team in January 2019.
Instead, after interviewing with the only team he threw an NFL pass for (2005), he agreed to terms with the Cards. Back east, of course, the Jets brought in Gase.
Not even a full two years later, Kingsbury put forth his revenge in the form of a 30-10 dismantling of Gase’s Jets. Not only did each team play with contrasting characteristics on their sleeve, but the coaches revealed much about the way they look at offensive play-calling on two separate fourth-and-1 situations.
Down 7-0 in the second quarter, the Jets were barely hanging on. A fortunate Avery Williamson interception set them up with a golden opportunity to make it a tie ballgame.
Facing a third-and-1 situation, Gase opted for the fullback dive. It failed, as tight end Trevon Wesco found himself stuffed. Worse yet, he missed an opportunity to collect positive yards if his vision was that of a natural fullback (cutback to the right side).
OK, now it’s fourth-and-1. What’s the defense going to do?
More than ever, the NFL is a league that rewards deception. College-infused principles such as jet motion and designed quarterback run schemes have allowed coaches such as Kingsbury to not only take advantage of the new pass-happy rules but also do it in a way the league has never seen.
Unlike Kingsbury (and Gregg Roman, Brian Daboll, Andy Reid, Sean McVay, etc.), Gase continues to live in the past. Instead of allowing his quarterbacks to take advantage of one-on-one situations along the sidelines, he’s dead focused on the chains. Instead of looking to capitalize against aggressive linebackers on their toes, he’s much more focused on whether his offensive line executed against a loaded box.
Executing will forever remain important when coaching football, but we’re not in Kansas anymore. Playing (and winning) the game of chess is the way to attack this offensive-driven league.
On fourth-and-1, Gase went with Le’Veon Bell against a loaded Cardinals box. Without Mekhi Becton, it of course failed, and a golden opportunity bypassed Gase and the Jets.
Why not take a shot there?
With far less talent and without your best offensive player (Becton), showcasing gumption against a Cards defense ready to fill every gap hard is a move that would be respected by all on the sideline. It’s a call that can potentially turn the entire feel of the game around.
Why not take at least one shot this season?
The failed fourth-down conversion now puts the Jets at nine total third or fourth-and-1 situations on the season. They have run the ball all nine times. You don’t need to be Vince Lombardi to understand that doesn’t do much for an offense’s chances in this pass-happy football world.
After the game, Gase couldn’t really tell what happened on the two failed plays.
“I’m going to have to look at that to see exactly what happened because it was hard to tell what the issues were from the pictures,” Gase told reporters on a Zoom call after the loss. “It looked like they had some kind of penetration to where we had to stop our feet and try and make a cut. I don’t know if we lost on a backside block when that happened. I have to look at the film and what happened on both of those.”
He curiously praised his team’s success rate when Wesco carries the ball.
“I thought we were going to get the third-and-one because anytime we’ve run the ball with (Trevon) Wesco, we’ve gotten a yard. It just seemed like we got stopped,” Gase added. “I don’t know what happened exactly.”
Wesco had carried the ball one time prior to Sunday in his career. He gained two yards on a play in 2019.
On the other end of the spectrum is Kingsbury, who took a shot up seven while his team was at his own 39-yard line.
First of all, going for it in that spot is a new-age coach decision in its own right. Secondly, and more importantly, Kingsbury allowed his team to reward him for his aggressive choice.
The key is simple: he knew Gregg Williams would have his unit on its toes, ready to fill any and every gap needed. Kyler Murray took advantage of that call with a 36-yard chunk to tight end Darrell Daniels.
That’s how you call offensive plays in the NFL. Focusing on deception over execution should be the play-callers’ new religion.
Gase tipped his hat to the Cards’ skill players when asked about Kingsbury’s gutsy call after the game.
“With that quarterback and the skill players they have, there is so much on the table that you can go to,” Gase said. “Kyler makes it very difficult. When you’re basically third-and-five or less with him, all of your run-pass options are available.”
To be fair to Gase, the Jets entered the game in the middle of the pack in fourth-downs attempted (0-5). He also opted for 14 passes on 30 total third and fourth-and-1 situations a year ago, which ranked his team second in the league, only behind the Houston Texans.
Twenty-twenty is a new season, however, and running the ball all nine times in third and fourth-and-1 situations makes Jets fans feel stale. It makes them feel like the last time their team attempted a shot with cojones behind it was when the last Olympics were active.
One man played it safe. The other aggressively took a shot. Which of the two do you think is enjoying more success in this never-before-seen NFL that constantly rewards risk-takers?
Two fourth-and-1 plays highlight a crucial difference in mentality between New York #Jets head coach Adam Gase and Arizona Cardinals head man Kliff Kingsbury.
It's chess. It's about deception in today's NFL, more than ever. What the D will do is more important than the chains. pic.twitter.com/oAi7IEVrjr
— Robby Sabo (@RobbySabo) October 12, 2020