Adam Gase’s New York Jets offense came out in Week 1 with extraordinary sloppiness to match several missed opportunities.
That’s right; the very same ailment that hits the average 16-year-old youngster running around chasing tail has invaded the Jets 22-year-old face of the franchise.
Stephen King couldn’t write a greater horror story. Well, he could, he’d just have to include the Jets in some fashion (for an authentic feel).
Oh yeah, Le’Veon Bell is set for an MRI on his ailing shoulder, Quinnen Williams is banged up and we already know both Avery Williamson and Quincy Enunwa are shelved for the entire season. Add the Antonio Brown cherry on top of the entire AFC East picture and a sense of impending doom couldn’t touch the feeling Jets fans hold at the moment.
Still, Adam Gase was all smiles, all positive energy at Thursday practice. The first-year head coach showcased a bounce in his step while supporting new starter Trevor Siemian, acting as if all is well in Jet land.
One solid glance at the tape from last Sunday reveals a different story. From bad quarterback play to horrid play-calling, terrible offensive line production and poor wide receiver execution, the Jets offense put forth a complete mess in the team’s disheartening 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Unlike Gase’s words from training camp, Darnold did not enjoy too much freedom at the line of scrimmage in Week 1. This resulted in plenty of runs against a loaded box and passes against two-deep.
When a run call was on against a lighter box, Bell and the offensive line too full advantage.
It was when the Bills strong safety sniffed the box and the line of scrimmage that saw the run game fall flat. Most times, Bell would be chased down by the unblocked, backside defender.
Darnold (now Siemian) has to be given the ability to change the call at the line of scrimmage. Then, and only then, can the offense take what the defense gives them on every play.
Free Runner vs. Hot Read
It just felt as though every Gase play-call was matched by the Bills defense. They were in the Jets playbook on every down. In particular, it showed when Darnold needed to go hot.
Buffalo blitzed a ton on Sunday, which meant Darnold needed to make the correct hot read. The problem came due to how the Bills were blitzing.
The unit would guess which side the Jets would lean on for the hot read, and, depending on the side, would ensure a free runner came from that direction. This resulted in many deflected balls.
This was a schematical attempt on the part of the Bills to disrupt the Jets three-step attack and Gase had no answers all afternoon long.
Terrible O-Line Play
Perhaps the greatest black mark on the Jets offense was, as usual, the offensive line. The upfront production was so bad that it felt like the five men just met each other on Sunday morning.
The communication was terrible, as veteran center Ryan Kalil admitted after the contest.
The following situation features a five-man rush. Both sides deploy three possible defenders, making each side just as threatening.
Watch Darnold. It looks as though he even pointed out to the eventual winning side (to the right), yet Kalil immediately turns his attention left, allowing the crashing defensive end to come in untouched.
This is the stuff that just can’t happen and Gase knows it. Any big-boy NFL offense needs the offensive line to only get beat by talent, not miscommunication.
Unfortunately, this happened routinely in Week 1. Young Darnold felt the pressure all afternoon.
Poor Wide Receiver Play
On Monday, Gase called out his wide receivers.
“I was happy with how Sam (Darnold) handled everything,” Gase revealed on a Monday conference call. “Disappointed in how our receivers handled some of the things.”
Initially, the head coach thought Darnold didn’t handle the game well. After watching the film, he sort of reversed course while simultaneously believing his weapons fell short of expectations.
In reality, both parties put forth a poor effort.
Darnold missed several easy ones, including this cross to Robby Anderson (the very play after missing No. 11 on a sideline comeback).
Sometimes, it simply comes down to execution. Darnold has to hit these throws in an automatic fashion.
Poor Wide Receiver Play
When wideouts are nearly bumping into each other and running bad routes against a specific coverage, it’s obvious something is terribly wrong.
Down one with the ball late in the game, Robby Anderson had a chance to be the hero. While he does get hit, Young Amazing didn’t explode out of the double-move.
It was obvious in real-time that Anderson turned it on near the tail-end of the route. Darnold absolutely should have led him more towards the sideline, but the wideout looked back entirely too soon and didn’t bust it like his straight-line speed suggests he can.
Overall, it was a mini-miracle the Jets still had a shot to win this game. The defense (with C.J. Mosley) was dominant, covering up for a woeful offensive unit. Aside from one solid drive, nothing clicked.
Now, with Darnold down and news coming in on Bell soon (MRI, shoulder), everything’s up in the air. No matter the personnel, however, Adam Gase is preaching some of these exact points to his remaining personnel, the “next man up.”
After all, this is the NFL. Gase understands a thing or two about working with backup quarterbacks (see his time in Miami with the Dolphins).
The offensive line, quarterback play, wide receiver route-running and Gase’s own play-calling represent the New York Jets offensive homework headed into Week 2, no matter the quarterback’s name.