FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — When New York Jets CEO Christopher Johnson hired Adam Gase in January, he paraphrased an old Wayne Gretzky quote, saying, “He’s coaching to where football is going.” No, he didn’t mean the 1970s, but that’s exactly where the Jets have landed.
The Jets did absolutely nothing on offense in Sunday’s predictable loss to the New England Patriots, 30-14, leaving them at 33 points scored in their 0-3 start — the third-worst start in franchise history. They scored 24 points in 1971 and 21 in 1976, the year Lou Holtz came out of the college ranks to revive the Jets. He failed miserably, lasting less than a year.
How bad is the current offense? It has been outscored by the defense, 15-11.
It’s a shameful start for Gase, who was hyped as an offensive mastermind. He started his third quarterback in three weeks, undoubtedly a huge factor, but the latest debacle can’t be blamed entirely on first-time starter Luke Falk. The offensive line, with all five starters intact, was an absolute mess. When the line wasn’t out of sync, it was overpowered by the New England front. The Jets allowed five sacks and 14 quarterback pressures, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
With a veteran line and a quality running back like Le’Veon Bell, the Jets should’ve been able to sustain enough of a ground attack to take the pressure off Falk (12-for-22, 98 yards, one interception). That’s how good teams respond to adversity. Look at the Jacksonville Jaguars, who found a way to win a game with unheralded rookie Gardner Minshew at quarterback. Why couldn’t the Jets do that? Because their offensive line was bad, the receivers struggled to get open and Gase, at times, made curious playcalls. A backward pass to Bell on third-and-2? Come on.
Bell (35 yards on 18 carries) had no running room — do you think he misses the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ line? — and Falk was a tackling dummy, doomed by too many third-and-long situations. They didn’t cross midfield until the 2:27-mark in the third quarter. It was hard to watch. They avoided the embarrassment of a shutout because of a muffed punt that was recovered in the end zone by Arthur Maulet — a gift score. Later, safety Jamal Adams returned an interception of Patriots backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham for his first NFL touchdown.
Gase became the first Jets coach since Holtz — back to ’76 again — to lose his first three games on the job. This was their first 0-3 start since 2003, Herm Edwards’ third season. The good news is the Jets have their bye week, with quarterback Sam Darnold (mononucleosis) hoping to return for Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Linebacker C.J. Mosley (groin) also should be back. This team needs the rest. And help. Desperately.
Silver lining: The bye week comes at the ideal time for Gase, who needs a respite to save the season from an early death. To keep the locker room from fracturing, he needs to sell the team on the prospect of re-booting after the bye. At this point, it’s the only thing he has to sell. He also needs to take a hard look at his offensive plan, which needs a major overhaul.
Bold prediction: Desperate teams usually make drastic moves during the bye week, hoping to shake up the status quo. One name to watch is line coach Frank Pollack, who is under fire because his unit has underachieved. Quite frankly, the line looks confused at times.
Describe the game in two words: Familiar script. In their past four games in Foxborough, the Jets have been outscored 135-29.
Biggest hole in the game plan: The Jets were forced to start four backups at linebacker, leaving them vulnerable in so many ways. Tom Brady capitalized, tearing them to shreds with play-action passes and throwing to his running backs. The Jets allowed touchdowns on the Patriots’ first three possessions, turning it into a laughter. Give some credit to defensive coordinator Gregg Williams; he figured out a way to slow Brady, but it was too late.
Troubling trend: Facing a patchwork offensive line, Leonard Williams should have had a productive game, but he had no sacks, three tackles and one penalty in 47 defensive snaps. This is a contract year for Williams, who still hasn’t recorded a sack.