The New York Jets should be back to playing somewhat normal football this Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys with Sam Darnold back under center. They are currently 7 point underdogs at home, which is the tightest their line has been since week 1 (when they were favorites and lost). What do you need to know about this match up?
Return Of The Sam: The return of Sam Darnold to the quarterback position should theoretically allow the Jets to operate like a normal NFL offense. They have a far from perfect situation with their offensive line and Chris Herndon missing another game but there is enough with Le’Veon Bell, Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Demaryius Thomas and Ty Montgomery for them to attempt the things NFL teams attempt to score points on a regular basis.
The team must diversify their first down play calling to stay ahead of the sticks. They also need to diversify how Bell is utilized and where he lines up (the same goes for Montgomery). They should be taking one shot down the field per quarter with Anderson to keep defenses honest (they threw one last week and it drew a defensive holding penalty). There have been blips of creativity through four games but for the most part we’ve seen A gap run, A gap run, wide receiver screen…punt. It is time to open things up, change the tempo of the unit and move into the 21st century.
Darnold will also add a level of improvisation (see the week one two point conversion), which will compensate for personnel and play calling shortcomings. He is still a developing young quarterback but has enough athleticism and talent to get outside of the pocket and make a few things happen down the field. The Jets will be better off with an aggressive Darnold, who racks up a higher YPA and more points, even if it comes with a turnover or two and a lower completion percentage. There is less value in going 20/23 for 140 yards with one touchdown and no turnovers.
Not Great, Bob: As mentioned earlier, Herndon is now out an additional game or two with a hamstring injury, CJ Mosley is not expected back any time soon and Kelechi Osemele is still out (although Alex Lewis may be better than him at this point). The Jets would be wise to switch back to Nate Hairston at corner, if he’s healthy and to swap in Jonotthan Harrison at center for Ryan Kalil. At inside linebacker, Neville Hewitt has been surprisingly competent and Blake Cashman has been the team’s best rookie so far.
Expect Better: Sustained losing is a frustrating thing for any fan base. We are in the 1970s and Kotite Years hybrid right now. The numbers don’t lie and they are ice cold: 50-82 since 2010 with zero playoff appearances. 14-39 since heading into Buffalo week 17 of the 2015 season with a chance for the playoffs. 1-13 in the past 14 games.
(clears throat and dials up rant meter to 10)
I am out of patience with this organization. I am fully exhausted of redundant excuses for their prolonged incompetence. Mike Maccagnan never had a plan. He was a terrible GM, who will never get a GM job in the NFL again. This was blatantly the case the past few years and if you didn’t realize it until he was fired, you had your head in the fandom sand.
Adam Gase was a bad coach in Miami. He has been a bad coach since being hired here. Is his roster bad and injured? Yes. Does that mean he is still not a 23-29 coach with 4 offensive touchdowns in the past seven games? No. Pull your head out of the fandom sand for a moment and pretend you were a fan of any other team, would you be twisting yourself into a pretzel to say Gase was a good coach? The answer is no.
The Jets should not fire him after four games. The Jets should probably not fire him during the season no matter what happens because nobody else on the offensive staff is going to make a tangible difference in an interim play calling role. Yet, this organization needs to be brutally honest with his body of work when evaluating whether to keep him for 2020 because the clock is ticking on Darnold’s rookie deal. Gase has 12 games to change the decision but as it stands now, the Jets would be insane to bring him back next year.
Winning games against Miami, Washington and Cincinnati shows nothing. Win games against Dallas. Win games against Buffalo. Win games against Baltimore, Jacksonville and Oakland. Sam Darnold playing like he did most of last year shows nothing. Sam Darnold playing like he did against Houston mostly every week….that shows something.
Don’t accommodate being consistently awful. The Jets need to fully wipe the 8-8 Gatorade Bath culture from their building.