Suggesting New York Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams intentionally tanked his team is par for the course idiocy.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—Pre-internet, and especially pre-social media, the lunatics did have their asylums.
It could be Edward from down the street. Ed, a man who attends your Saturday barbeque, informs the party that Tupac never died. It could be Barbara at the Friday night high school football game. Barb, a woman whose son is currently not playing, explains how her son is currently being blackballed by the head coach. Hell, it could even be Tom, the man who’s convinced NASA faked the moon landing, singing that tempting conspiracy music in your ear.
Actually, those asylums weren’t asylums at all. At least not by definition. They were just places the lunatics wished to conquer with thoughts. Other than a private meeting ruled by weird tradition and eyebrow-raising ceremonies, the lunatics were limited when preaching their craziness back in the day. They had to wait for the barbeque, the football game or insane Tom, who seemed to mysteriously pop-up everywhere.
Today, courtesy of the internet, and especially thanks to social media, the asylum is constant. This sort of conspiracy nonsense is par for the course idiocy and its non-stop brute-force action topples you over whenever a sane thought is pondered.
For that, many level-headed New York Jets fans have been left strewn about the internet Sunday, while the others transform into the new-era Ed, Barb and Tom.
Gregg Williams did not intentionally tank the Jets.
Forget whether he did or didn’t for the moment. To even suggest such a motive is heavy stuff. Such accusations travel a long way these days—all the way to Trevor Lawrence himself, a kid who strikes me as somebody who’d never want to join an intentionally-tanking franchise.
What happened on the Henry Ruggs III 46-yard miracle touchdown with five seconds left was an all-time mistake. Nothing more, nothing less.
It’s one of the worst defensive play-calls in NFL history, in fact; but it also makes complete sense.
Williams decided to go with a little heat in that crucial situation. Scratch that; the old-school ball coach went with plenty of heat.
With just 13 seconds to go in regulation, Derek Carr‘s Las Vegas Raiders faced a third-and-10 at the Jets’ 46-yard line. The Raiders came out in 11 personnel, with a three-by-one look, while the Jets came out in a near-four-across look in the secondary.
After the snap, Farley drops down, perhaps because his man stays in to block (running back). Williams sends seven with the hope it forces Carr to get rid of the ball much earlier than he wants. It’s not to sack the guy outright, which would be a tremendous bonus. The pressure is meant to take away any end zone shot.
What’s not seen is Carr audibling before the play. He sees the zero-blitz look and ensures his tight end and back stay in to block. A magical inside-pocket lane opens up for the quarterback and the rest is history.
The color-commentator hit on it perfectly: Jackson’s situational awareness was his downfall. A 20-yard completion is fine. That’s a win as long as you secure the tackle. When taking that into account, Jackson should start 10-15 yards off the ball and ensure that the wideout never encroaches him—that he never takes away all of the space until the very end of the route.
This, my friends, is nothing more than a bad play-call and poor situational awareness.
For a grand conspiracy to exist, Gregg Williams would have to benefit in some way. Everybody knows he’s as good as gone after the season. The man and his defense just came off a tremendous red zone stand the drive before, and the guy who entered the NFL in 1990 wants to teach his young players the most he can before it’s all over.
Watching that kid get burned by Ruggs’s stutter must have killed Gregg Williams inside. More importantly, what does he have to gain from intentionally dooming his own franchise? Why not do it on the drive prior? Why wait until 13 seconds remained in the game? If the Jets’ offense had picked up a first down, and Braden Mann doesn’t shank his punt, the Jets probably win.
Imagine Williams did, indeed, intentionally tank the Jets and word gets out. He would never coach in an NFL game for the rest of his life. Anything dealing with the integrity of the game is dealt with swiftly and brutally (just ask Pete Rose). No professional sports league can afford the mere perception that things aren’t on the up and up, which means the risk-reward ratio is outlandishly horrid for the risk-taker.
To think Williams intentionally pulled off the back-handed middle finger of the century is to not know who Gregg Williams is. He’s always throwing up the most tasteless finger, and he’s always doing it to your face.
Anytime he’s faced with a crucial situation, he brings pressure.
Consider the Pittsburgh game from 2019. Not once but twice Williams sent pressure, which put his defensive backs in a one-on-one look with the game on the line. Marcus Maye made an other-worldly play and Brian Poole‘s man didn’t get too far thanks to the pressure.
This is what Gregg Williams does.
By no means was his call against the Raiders justifiable. The fact that Farley walked down on the play instead of escaping high is the capper that makes it unforgivable. At the heart of the matter are the Eds, Barbs and Toms who continue shrieking uncontrollably in the magical yet counter-productive land known as Twitter.
To them, logic cannot stand. There must be an explanation for such nonsense. No team could ever be this competent. Wait, what? Seemingly, since the dawn of time, the Jets have been labeled as incompetent. Same Old Jets and Just End The Season roar across the football land without prejudice or proper brakes.
Sometimes, it’s greatly deserved. Anybody who’s old enough to remember all 12 games this season would agree. Oftentimes, the narrative doesn’t match up with reality. One glance at Butt Fumble headlines would have you believe the Jets hadn’t won a game in a decade, no less make two AFC championship games in the last three seasons.
But in a world where narrative rules the roost, the Jets’ incompetence is undeniable. But then … what? Can incompetence turn into master-level tanking that requires a conspiracy not even Bill Belichick wouldn’t feel bubbly about?
Which one is it? Are the Jets incompetent or deviously intelligent? It can’t be both. The clear answer is incompetence with a dash of Mr. Burns-like intelligence when it’s suitable. At least that’s how a great percentage of the football-loving world thinks in today’s media landscape.
Unfortunately, reality is a bit more boring than the lunatics would have you believe. A man who’s always showcased his love for pressure decided to take the pressure route in a non-pressure situation. The play-call itself was nutty and beyond comprehension, but when Gregg Williams is analyzed and understood, it makes complete sense.
If you’re one who truly believes something is amiss, ask those Jets defenders who burst into excitement when the fourth-and-3 was stopped. Ask Gregg Williams, himself, the man who brought the pressure that helped develop the play in his team’s favor.
You’d be forced to ask independent contractors why they’d throw away one of 16 precious games in a season. You’d have to legitimately question Gregg Williams’s integrity.
What we watched on Sunday was a huge mistake, not the tanking version of the 1919 Chicago White Sox. The hard part is getting through to the new-era Eds, Barbs and Toms. You know, the very same people who continue to make the noise that helps separate perception from reality.
Good luck. You’re going to need it in a world that not only features this par for the course idiocy but also rewards it in certain instances as well.
Audio Version available to members only. Learn more here.