There were two important instances in the New York Jets win over the Dallas Cowboys: a turning point and a moment that changed everything.
FLORHAM PARK, NJ—The situation was nearly identical. A waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop feeling filled the MetLife Stadium atmosphere as a dreary feeling crawled the skin of individuals draped in Gotham Green.
Yes, they felt this before. Week 1. The Buffalo Bills.
The New York Jets were riding high in Adam Gase’s debut. Carrying a 16-3 lead into the fourth quarter, only the final score was in doubt. A Jets victory was only a matter of time. (Longtime suffering fans may argue the point, but nevertheless … )
C.J. Mosley exited, the Bills marched down the field to cut it to one possession. The Jets offense stalled only to see Darryl Roberts beaten on an underthrown Josh Allen ball that John Brown took the distance.
Then Sunday happened, Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys, a stunning 24-22 victory that announced the Jets as an NFL squad once again. The spot in which the dreary feeling needed to be squashed with authority.
After Dallas tallied a score to cut the lead to 21-16, Gase was facing a critical juncture of his early tenure. Six minutes and 21 seconds remained in regulation. New York owned possession of the ball at its own 23-yard-line.
Gase decided on a pedal to the medal strategy, the exact recipe for success in today’s NFL.
He dialed up a play-action with verticals down the field. Darnold moved up in the pocket (as he frequently does so well) and found Jamison Crowder over the middle for a 30-yard catch-and-run.
The head coach knew how big a chunk the play yielded.
“That was a huge play,” Gase said after the game. “They played a little softer on that play. We were trying to go to Robbie (Anderson) and Jamison did a great job of finding that void. Sam stepped up. Those guys hooked up at the right time.”
After a Le’Veon Bell three-yard gain on an inside zone, back to the air Gase went with his young stud. It produced Darnold’s best throw of the day, an 18-yard hookup with Robby Anderson on a back-shoulder wheel route from the slot.
Stunning. It was at this moment Jets fans knew something was different. This wasn’t Todd Bowles‘s squad anymore.
Bowles, and his predecessor, Rex Ryan, ran the Jets with a defensive-first mind. Oftentimes, late in games, they’d play the conservative game and rely on their defense to get the job done. Predictably, it led to disastrous late-game results.
Gase is different.
“I think it was more, we were finding some soft spots in the zone coverages,” Gase said as to why he relied on his passing game late in the game. “They had a couple of guys go out and we felt like our guys were winning on their routes. We thought we were going to have some bigger plays on a few of our runs, but we didn’t get as much yardage as we initially thought. They were doing a good job of getting to the football fast. They weren’t laying down a lot of breathing room. That’s what most teams are going to try to stop right off the bus.”
Folks, it doesn’t matter if the 1985 Chicago Bears are on the field. In today’s league, thanks to the rules that allow for a high-flying, flag-throwing affair, defenses can never be relied upon. Offenses and quarterback win games. It’s just that simple.
More than one moment that seemingly kickstarted a new culture, the Dallas win showcased brilliant coaching, both offensively and defensively.
One sole turning point that featured both units as a whole hammer the point home.
Early in the second quarter, 4th-and-2. Jason Garrett decides to keep his offense on the field.
Earlier in the week, Gregg Williams’s attentiveness with his positional drills was evident. The linebackers worked extensively on anything Dak Prescott rushing related. Zone reads, read options, speed options and QB powers were at play. Focusing on assignments and alignments felt critical.
On Sunday, only one Prescott run hit home, the QB draw that went for the final Cowboys score before the failed two-point conversion. One of the failed runs turned out to commence the turning point.
Williams’s alignment and the communication on stuffing Prescott was a thing of football beauty.
A little defense, the most important play of the game, the 4th-down stop on the QB power.
— RobbySabo (@RobbySabo) October 15, 2019
Notice Tarell Basham‘s wide-9 alignment. It’s done for a purpose on the tight end side of the trips. The defense knew the QB power was coming.
In addition, Basham’s technique while securing and squeezing the edge was out of this world. Lastly, the double 4i technique kept the inside stout out of the 3-3-5 nickel.
On the very next play, the Jets hit paydirt and rocked MetLife.
— RobbySabo (@RobbySabo) October 15, 2019
Notice Sam Darnold pre-snap. He sees something, he does something. Unlike the Bowles regime that saw Darnold literally call every play from the huddle, Gase is already allowing his young quarterback freedom at the line of scrimmage.
Simply put, it’s the only way to deploy a dominant offense. The NFL is a three-step, pre-snap league that relies on the quarterback to make instant decisions. Tom Brady‘s made a legendary career off of it. Throwing against single-high and rushing against two-deep is what dominant units do.
There was even an “Omaha” call out on the 92-yard double-move beauty.
Granted, one win is just that: a sole win. And Bill Parcell’s old adage remains true: the Jets are what their record says they are, 1-4.
The good news, however, is more positive than ever. An old-school defensive mind who believes it’s still 1984 isn’t running the Jets anymore. When the team finds itself in hairy situations late, this head coach will do the right thing not only by his young quarterback but by the team as a whole.
He’ll take what the defense gives him. He’ll air the damn ball out with the lead. He’ll do the things that reward football clubs in the NFL 2019.
Adam Gase will not crawl into a hole and ask his defense to save the day, no matter how well-coached they are. It’s the right move every time.