LAS VEGAS — The New York Jets season has turned into a game of Mad Libs. Change a noun or adjective here and there, perhaps, but in the end the story is always the same.
The defense plays well. The offense can’t finish drives. The offense doesn’t reach the end zone. Zach Wilson makes some confusing decisions. Greg Zuerlein has a busy day, kicking field goals, the only source of offense. Thomas Morstead has a busy day, scoring, as the offense can’t move the ball consistently. Sanctions kill units. The defense does its job. Ultimately the Jets are still in the game. Then it’s over.
Robert Saleh calls out self-inflicted wounds in his postgame press conference, but believes the Jets are close. He won’t blame the quarterback or the offensive coordinator. The defenders bite their tongues and talk about how the team would win if only they could score points themselves, or hold their opponents to zero points instead of 3, 6, 10 or 16. The forwards are speechless.
Rinse, repeat. It’s all the same, and Saleh doesn’t seem to have any desire to make the kind of changes that could transform offense into competence. He won’t bench Wilson. He won’t take away calls from offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. The Jets lost to the Raiders 16-12 on Sunday, a team so dysfunctional that it fired its coach, general manager and offensive coordinator a few weeks ago, with one of the worst defenses in the league and a fourth-round rookie starting at quarterback. . And it was the same as always.
Jets fall to Raiders, Zach Wilson throws a costly INT late
If Saleh doesn’t take over the reins of the Jets’ offense and do what needs to be done to fix it before the season fades into thin air – another year without the playoffs, like so many before – then maybe the players will have to. take control of the situation yourself.
“Today they asked me: do you agree to speak to the media?” Tyler Conklin said after the game. “I said, yes, I will talk, but what do you expect me to say? That’s the thing, it’s a broken record at this point. We have to understand this. We can’t keep going here and doing these things over and over again. Breaking down the defense, breaking down our team. I wish I had answers to (reporters’) questions about why we can’t score in the red zone, why we got so many penalties, all these things, but there’s really no good answer to give you guys, plus we need to fucking figure it out.
The Jets scored on their first three drives Sunday night, all field goals. They then scored on five consecutive drives, followed by another field goal, an interception by Wilson and then time expired on the final drive. The Jets haven’t scored a touchdown in 11 quarters. They scored 13 offensive touchdowns in nine games. Wilson has thrown one touchdown pass in his last five games and five on the season. For comparison, Josh Dobbs has tallied six touchdowns in two games in the 12 days since he was traded to the Vikings. At the end of Sunday’s game, the Jets had five points, four field goals, eight penalties, 14 first downs and zero touchdowns. Five of those first downs came on the final two drives of the game.
“It’s frustrating,” running back Breece Hall said. “I’ve been saying that since week one.”
Wide receiver Garrett Wilson appeared emotionally distracted after the game, on the verge of tears.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Wilson said. “I’m tired of all this, man. I want to play better. The offense wants to play better. Every week we try to make it happen. “It’s frustrating.”
This is as dejected as I’ve seen Garrett Wilson after a loss. pic.twitter.com/80rnhVV9Cb
—Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) November 13, 2023
The first words out of Saleh’s mouth during the post-game press conference were the same ones he says almost every week, win or lose. All anyone wants to know is why his offense has gotten somewhat worse since last year, when he parted ways with Mike LaFleur as his offensive coordinator and revamped his offensive coaching staff.
He made a lot of excuses. The Jets couldn’t find any solution.
“The hard part for me is when I watch the game: It’s easy to watch the play-caller, the coach, the quarterback,” Saleh said. “But we’re moving the ball. Today we moved the ball. But it’s just penalties, O-line penalties, tight end penalties, running back penalties. They’re just stupid, stupid things that we need to clean up, otherwise they won’t change. But we can clean it up and at least give ourselves a chance to play some clean football, to see what it looks like. “I still think he’s going to look pretty good.”
The Jets got to the red zone once Sunday and didn’t convert. That’s the expectation at this point for the NFL’s worst red zone offense. But the defense once again did its job and another mostly impressive performance went to waste. The Raiders were 5 of 15 on third down, quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for 153 yards and the Jets shut down wide receiver Davante Adams without making any catches in the second half. They forced two turnovers, including a forced fumble late in the fourth quarter to stifle a potential Raiders scoring attempt. Then Zach Wilson turned and returned the ball to wide receiver Allen Lazard, allowing linebacker Robert Spillane to leap in front of him for what became a game-clinching interception.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) November 13, 2023
Wilson wasn’t the problem Sunday, but he remains a problem. Wilson threw for 263 yards, but on his final two drives he threw for 92. The play-calling didn’t do him any favors: At times it seemed Hackett was afraid to let Wilson do anything other than pass or check him. Breece Hall had 47 yards on three receptions, but wasn’t targeted until the fourth quarter, even though he’s the most dynamic player the Jets have with the ball in his hands.
“It’s something we definitely need to look at,” Saleh said.
The Jets’ defense — which ranks third in the NFL in expected points added, according to TruMedia, and seventh in points allowed — is held to an impossible standard. If he gives up any points or doesn’t score any, the Jets will likely lose. They know it too. This is not a 4-5 team defense. It’s a playoff-caliber defense stuck with a mediocre, fix-it offense.
“I won’t say it’s surprising,” cornerback Sauce Gardner said of the 4-5 record. “We don’t play complementary football. It’s just a fact. “It’s not a surprise at all.”
The defense knows they have no margin for error with the offense playing this way.
“Yes, but that’s how we’re trained,” Gardner said. “For the coaches, if they can’t score, they won’t win. When you accept it, we always put it on ourselves.
Coach Saleh on quarterback Zach Wilson’s performance. pic.twitter.com/HZxPShxYj6
— New York Jets (@nyjets) November 13, 2023
Saleh may not want to make a change, but it certainly seems like the players are ready for one. This week, that could come in the form of a “players only” matchup, the cliché for teams finding themselves falling apart.
“Yes, everything is on the table,” Garrett Wilson said. “We’re trying to figure it out. I see something like this coming soon because it’s needed. I’ll take care of it myself. We’ve got some guys in this locker room that know how to lead and we’ll see what it’s like coming back to New York, what we talk about. “We must do something.”
Conklin went further.
“We’re definitely at that point where something needs to be done,” Conklin said. “We can’t get to next week and throw the ball out there and hope things get better. “I don’t know what we need to do, but we need to do something this week to be on the same page.”
Now it’s Week 11. The Jets have played nine games. The crime is now worse than before. This should be a playoff team. Instead, the Jets are losing to the Raiders and barely beating the Giants.
“It’s frustrating as hell,” Conklin said.
(Photo by Garrett Wilson and Nate Hobbs: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)