The Jets won their second straight game on Sunday, stunning the Browns 23-16 at MetLife Stadium. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:
1. Watching the way the defense has played the last two weeks makes me wonder if Adam Gase waited too long to fire defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The defense has played inspired, mostly mistake-free football in the wins over the Rams and Browns. Frank Bush deserves a lot of credit for the way his unit has played. It is not like he is lining up with the 1985 Bears right now. The Jets were a weak unit to begin with and are now playing a lot of backups. The Jets only had four starters on Sunday from their opening day lineup in Buffalo.
Williams did a good job last year, but it got a little overstated. The Jets played a lot of weak quarterbacks and Williams capitalized on that. The defense’s best games came against Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins and Devlin Hodges. That led to an inflated view of how Williams coached.
This season, Williams seemed to coach scared most of the year. That is what made his Cover Zero blitz against the Raiders even more shocking. It was a departure from how he coached most of the season.
If you look at the Jets losses, I think you can attribute three of them directly to the defense. The losses to the Broncos, Patriots and Raiders were all on the defense. Maybe if they beat the Broncos in Week 4, the team gains some confidence and wins a few more games.
The Jets still would have been a bad team, but more like 6-10 bad, not 2-13 bad. Who knows how it would have turned out, but the Jets have been a better team without Williams than with him. Gase probably should have made a move sooner.
2. I know that this two-game “winning streak” probably has a segment of the fanbase worried that it might be enough to save Gase’s job. It won’t be. In my opinion, based on conversations I’ve had with people, the Jets are set to fire Gase next week and a few meaningless wins at the end of the season won’t change that.
It shouldn’t. When I covered baseball, scouts used to say that you could not put too much stock in what you saw in September. The game changes with call-ups and teams that are out of the playoff race play differently. I think the same thing is true in football for teams out of the playoff race. Gase needs to be judged on the full picture and that includes the 0-13 start.
Even more than record, though, the evaluation of Gase is about the way his offense has performed. He was hired in large part for his offensive acumen, but it has not worked here. The Jets have now gone 20 straight games with less than 400 yards of total offense, the longest streak in the NFL. The Giants are second with 16 games.
The defense has been the catalyst for these two victories with the offense doing just enough to get the win.
The one thing I do think these two wins do for Gase is improve his prospects for the future. If he went 0-16, I was wondering if he would get a job in the NFL again. I think he takes too much blame for the Jets’ struggles. The roster is atrocious. Now, he has shown that players will play for him and the offense has looked better with his starting receivers playing. Gase should be able to land somewhere as at least a position coach next year.
3. Get ready to hear a lot of names as the coaching carousel starts spinning. I expect the Jets to cast a wide net in the coaching search and speak to a lot of coaching candidates. Two names that came up in reports on Sunday are interesting.
ESPN reported that teams have inquired about former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. I doubt the Jets would be interested in Meyer or vice versa. It does not feel like a fit to me. I suspect Meyer would want to go someplace where he can have input on who the GM is going to be.
NFL Network mentioned Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale as a strong candidate. This one makes more sense for the Jets. Joe Douglas has strong ties to the Ravens organization, having worked there for 15 years. Douglas and Martindale overlapped from 2012-14 when Martindale was the linebackers coach. More than that, though, I expect Douglas to lean on longtime Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome for his opinion on coaches and Martindale could get the seal of approval from Newsome. That would carry weight with Douglas.
4. We give the Jets a lot of deserved grief about their free-agent decisions in recent years. But one that has worked is wide receiver Jamison Crowder. Former GM Mike Maccagnan signed Crowder to a three-year, $28.5 million deal in March 2019 and this is one Maccagnan got right.
Crowder has been the most reliable offensive player for the last two seasons. He had a huge day Sunday with a touchdown catch and a touchdown pass. Crowder showed he can flourish when he has the other starting receivers on the field to take some attention away from him. Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman had quiet days, but they took defenders away from Crowder. The Jets have Crowder under contract for one more year and should hold onto him for whoever the quarterback is next year.
The Jets are the third team to start 0-13 and then win two straight games. The 1986 Colts and 2011 Colts also did it. The ’86 Colts won their final three games to finish 3-13. We’ll see if the Jets can match that Sunday in New England.
Surprising snap count
Rookie RB La’Mical Perine only played 19 snaps (28 percent) in his return. I expected him to have a bigger role, but the Jets stuck with Frank Gore (31 snaps) and also mixed in Ty Johnson (18 snaps).
OLB Tarell Basham had a huge game. He forced two fumbles, including on the fourth-and-1 stop at the end of the game. He had five tackles, one sack, three quarterback hits and the two forced fumbles.
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