The New York Jets’ 40-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks featured an inexcusable sequence that summed up an entire era.
Once upon a time, there was no such thing as a “Jet decision.” Bill Parcells‘s arrival in 1997 created a clear football operations hierarchy. One boss was at the top, and the mere mention of his nickname made many tuna lovers hungry. (Come to think of it a bit randomly, Bumble Bee, StarKist and Chicken of the Sea must have loved Parcells’s larger-than-life stature at the time.)
In any event, Leon Hess introduced Parcells and the rest was history. He took a 4-28 team to nine and 12 wins, respectively, over the next two seasons. The Jets went on to qualify for the playoffs seven times from 1998 to 2010—the same number the organization experienced over the course of its 37-year history prior to when the man dubbed Big Tuna officially took control.
A clear hierarchy in football just plain works. Having that alpha-dog run everything is a critical part of football team-building.
Yet, post-Tuna, new owner Woody Johnson eventually decided to go in a slightly different direction. Both the general manager and head coach would report to ownership. It’s not uncommon in today’s league to see such a football operations setup, but things become interesting during the stickiest of situations in that case.
Who exactly is running the show? Who has final say over any personnel disagreement? Nobody really knew when John Idzik, the money guy, was in town. He would simply repeat, “It was a Jet decision.” Was it Rex or Idzik? Was it Rex or Mike Tannenbaum (another cap guy) before that?
Theoretically, Joe Douglas is that man, especially when considering one of the major sticking points in his coming to New Jersey was that he did have final say. But considering he arrived after Adam Gase had already been hired, again, added questions begin to surface when things aren’t going so swimmingly.
This past Sunday, Gase’s Jets hit the low-point of this era: a 40-3 shellacking at the hands of former friend Jamal Adams and the Seattle Seahawks. One particular sequence from the game was so disastrously inexcusable that it can sum up the Gase era with an appropriate ugly-looking bow.
Trailing 23-3 with just 18 seconds to go in the first half, Sam Darnold miraculously found Braxton Berrios on a deep-crosser for 34 yards. Gase’s design against Seattle’s three-deep look behind pressure was a perfect one in this situation. Berrios was all alone, and he did the right thing by getting out of bounds after snagging Darnold’s ball.
Suddenly, that end-of-half momentum swing was possible (in spite of the idea the lead was already insurmountable in the eyes of most onlookers).
Nevertheless, the Jets had a shot to score points before the first-half’s final gun. The squad had a chance to feel good about itself heading into the locker room. And more than three points was still a slim possibility when considering the factors.
The clock stopped at 10 seconds with the Jets at Seattle’s 29-yard line. The Seahawks defense came into the contest ranked 31st overall and dead last against the pass (in terms of yardage). Breshad Perriman has every ability to win a one-on-one matchup downfield. Best yet, the Jets had one timeout remaining.
With the entire field at their disposal, the options were plentiful, as a deep chunk down the middle of the field was certainly an option. Gase could have dialed up an iso situation to Jamison Crowder between the hashes, or they could have even attacked the seams in anticipation of another three-deep look.
As per usual, after so many positive thoughts, reality comes to bite the eternal optimist in his or her silly face. The Jets offense cannot get the next play off prior to the play clock winding down.
It’s as inexcusable a football sequence as there is, and the head coach is fully aware.
“I screwed that up,” Gase told the media after the game. “That was on me. I screwed our guys up as far as trying to get too cute on one of the play calls. That was my fault.”
Credit Gase for shouldering the blame—something he’s done quite frequently. It’s not a new thing, either. After Avery Williamson’s season-ending injury in Atlanta (August 2019), Gase immediately took the blame. He’s done the same in the area of Darnold’s lack of development.
Unfortunately, it’s not nearly enough.
The little things matter. Think about a Bill Belichick-run football team. Have the New England Patriots ever found themselves in a situation quite like this? Of course there are rarities, but the sideline generals who run a tight ship almost never allow such a self-defeating sequence to unfold.
Post-Parcells, Jets fans have seen it routinely. Herm Edwards was never a clock-management whiz. Neither was Rex Ryan. Eric Mangini wasn’t great in this area either, although he ran a tight ship for the most part. Ryan and Todd Bowles routinely featured Oscar the Grouch-type messiness of epic proportions. Gase then decided to match that messiness and raise it a few notches.
Part of the Gase-era shortcomings deals with the aforementioned hierarchy’s importance to the game. Not only is it important to have that clear voice in the front office, but it’s also critical on the sideline.
Remember, Gase was brought in with Gregg Williams, a man he never coached with prior to 2019. Matt Rhule, who interviewed for the Jets head coaching job in January 2019, made it clear that he was unhappy with an “arranged marriage.”
“I don’t want to say anything about that job … at the end of the day, I’m never going to be in an arranged marriage,” Rhule told ESPN 1660 in Dallas. “I’m never going to sub-contract out jobs for offense and defense. I’m always going to hire people I believe in … and are going to do things our way.”
Reports surfaced that Gregg Williams was part of the head coaching package at the time. Though never proven as fact, the last two seasons have featured a co-head coach look in Florham Park, NJ. Gase controls the offense, while Williams did his thing defensively. Although Gase has final say over all in-game management decisions, certain things such as personnel or a final defensive play-call in a Hail Mary situation become tough to control at times when dealing with such a coaching scenario.
It’s been messy from the start.
This particular example falls on Gase’s shoulders no matter the true reason for why it happened. It’s not just time-management that’s been an issue, either. An abundance of needless personal fouls, pre-snap penalties and anything dealing with football messiness of the highest order has marred the last decade of Jets football.
This one, something that would never happen under a sideline commander such as Bill Parcells, sums up the Adam Gase era.
The only thing Douglas and the Jets can do is consume it, understand it and prevent it from happening in the future. Finding the right guy who commands not only the entire team but the coaching staff and every person in the building will be priority No. 1 this January.
At the SEA 29-yard line with 10 seconds to go in the first half and one timeout remaining, what the New York Jets offense did from there is one of the most inexcusable sequences football can offer. This stuff just cannot happen. #TakeFlight pic.twitter.com/Z09A0KfFgZ
— Robby Sabo (@RobbySabo) December 15, 2020