Robby Anderson, Adam Gase, Sam Darnold
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

New York Jets Week 1 coaching points are headlined by crisper route running, quarterback freedom and constant zone coverage.

Robby Sabo

FLORHAM PARK, NJ—Same old Jets. It’s the tired phrase uttered relentlessly over the last 48 hours. The immortal three-letter phrase that doesn’t want to pack up and go away forever represents another start to an NFL season in Northern New Jersey.

As senseless as it oftentimes represents many New York Jets teams, this organization cannot run and hide from the annoyance that is “Same old Jets.” They’ll instead have to tackle it head-on, something Adam Gase and Joe Douglas have no problem doing.

To accomplish killing “Same old Jets,” games similar to what was witnessed in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills can’t unfold.

New York was sloppy and didn’t resemble anything a “quarterback whisperer” would trot out onto the field. The young franchise quarterback was poor and the newly-formed offensive line looked as though they hadn’t even met each other prior to 1 p.m. ET on the NFL’s opening weekend.

Offensive Line Communication

The lingering sin at Florham Park revolves around the team’s offensive line. Not since 2010 has the organization selected a second-round offensive lineman. Not since 2006 have the Jets taken a first-round talent at the unit.

It always and will forever start upfront. Luckily, Joe Douglas knows this. Unluckily, the man didn’t arrive until after free agency and the NFL Draft.

What the Jets put forth on Sunday was nothing short of disastrous in front of Sam Darnold. Sure, No. 14 wasn’t great in the game, but that’s usually the case when his O-line would get beat by a four-man varsity front.

The excuse that Ryan Kalil was a late addition and the unit hadn’t really experienced live-action together all August will only work for one week. Getting beat by way of talent is understandable. Finding yourself smacked down by way of line calls and mental errors is inexcusable.

The following is the second play of the game. After a Le’Veon Bell split zone went for five, Adam Gase dialed up a pass that could have popped had the line done its job.

Although we’ll never know what the line call was, Darnold points to the right side as if he’s signaling the three-man side is coming on the wide side.

Kalil immediately turns to the left, allowing the crashing defensive end a free run at the kid.

A five-man rush against a five-man offensive line unit should never yield a free runner. It’s an entire unit that has to be buttoned up by Monday night.

Crisper, Smarter Route-Running

On a Monday conference call, Gase explained how he was pleased with Darnold’s play (as opposed to what he originally thought) and more annoyed with how the wide receivers ran routes. Perhaps adding veteran Demaryius Thomas is more evidence of that notion.

“We had a chance to win the game,” Gase said. “We need to come out of our double move,” Gase said on a Monday conference call. “The guy falls down & we don’t come out running, so. If we do that, all of a sudden we’re scoring a touchdown. Guys need to do a better job executing what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Ouch. Gase sent a strong message towards his weapons, especially Robby Anderson, who was involved in the referenced double-move play.

Sloppy and lazy routes combined with questionable concepts led to awful stuff in front of Darnold. On a crucial play late in the game, that could have won it for Gotham Green, Anderson didn’t bust it out of a double-move.

There’s no question he was bumped on the play, and Darnold needed to lead him towards the sideline a bit more, but No. 11 coasted and looked back entirely too early.

Get out of the double-move and explode. Then, after it’s completed, turn back for the ball.

On top of lazy route-running was the fact many concepts were too close together. The wideouts just weren’t reading the coverages properly on many calls. It’s a point of emphasis that must be remedied quickly.

Oh, and on top of those issues, the Jets top wideout must realize that he owns the football. He needs to attack the football at its highest point and haul it in.

It’s a coaching point Anderson must fulfill if he wants to be truly viewed as a No. 1 NFL wideout.

Quarterback Freedom

Early in camp, the head coach was asked whether Darnold would be given freedom at the line of scrimmage to change plays. After all, under Jeremy Bates and Todd Bowles, the kid wasn’t given any freedom to change anything.

It resulted in a ton of runs into eight-man boxes and downfield throws into two-deep looks.

Gase confidently proclaimed Darnold would have the freedom that’s needed to excel at the position in today’s league.

On Sunday, the kid enjoyed very little freedom.

A common theme on the ground was watching backside Bills defender chase down Bell in the backfield, prior to the play even getting off its feet.

Notice how close to the line of scrimmage the strong safety is (the man who makes the play). The only way to beat a defense this aggressive is to allow the quarterback to check out of the called run and take advantage of one-on-one matchups through the air.

It’s the only way the defensive coordinator will be scared enough to stop messing around with the strong safety that close to the L.O.S.

Darnold didn’t really change any plays on Sunday, as we witnessed minimal quarterback freedom.

Zone Coverage

Whenever Gregg Williams dialed up man coverage, John Brown torched Trumaine Johnson. It’s just that simple.

Johnson is one of the slower cornerbacks in the league. If he’s in the lineup, this defense is a zone-coverage squad. There’s really no way around it unless the opposing team’s No. 1 weapon is a possession guy who can’t run a top-flight 40.

Williams did learn this fact early on, and did adjust with many Cover 3  and Tampa 2 looks, but it’s tough to keep the offensive off-balance when dialing up a man coverage presents such a handicap.

Look for a hefty dose of zone against Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Baker Mayfield and the rest of the Cleveland Browns offense on Monday night.

New York Jets

Final Thoughts

The good news is that many of these coaching points are correctable. The O-line can improve to match better communication. The wideouts can pay attention to detail in their route running. Gase can give Darnold more freedom to take what the defense give shim. Williams can lean on zone coverage.

The bad news is, however, much of it can’t be solved until Joe Douglas is afforded the opportunity to go sort through his own free-agent period and NFL Draft class.

Young talent at the offensive line is desperately needed, as is a legitimate edge pass rusher and a top cover corner. No coaching genius will fully be able to mask those deficiencies.

Still, there’s no reason this squad can’t finish over. 500 and put forth a solid run at the tournament in January. If the correct coaching points are hammered home and followed through by the players on the field, it’ll start on Monday Night Football against the 0-1 Browns who are going through their own mess with a rookie head coach.

The greatest thing about “Same old Jets” is that, while it may never pack up and move away for good, it sure does have its way of hiding for a week after an impressive victory.