New York Jets 1st & 10 – Ugly Winning

Stephen Russo goes 1st and 10 on the narratives around the New York Jets season and their ugly win over Pittsburgh


It seems as though there are only two possible narratives on this 2019 Jets’ season that has been, in a word, underwhelming. Regardless of the current record and the chance for this team to get to 7-9 with a win over a JV Bills team in Buffalo to improve their win total 3 games from 2018, I believe it’s safe to say that more was expected. Fans needed more from Adam Gase. We wanted to see more progress from Sam Darnold. We thought Le’Veon Bell would be more reminiscent of his Pittsburgh days. And basically, we felt that the offense and this team would be more competitive than it has been all season. I think, to varying degrees, everyone (well most everyone, I am speaking to Jets fans) can agree that all of those things are true.

To get back to my original point that basically all of us (fans, media) fall under one of two narratives to summarize this season. They are:

This season was lost from the start as Sam Darnold missed three games with mono, the already talent-depleted roster was decimated by injury, no one could overcome the deficiencies on the offensive line, and it would be ridiculous to expect any head coach to withstand what Adam Gase has gone through. Therefore, getting the team to 6 or 7 wins is an accomplishment.


Yes, it is true that the Jets were ravaged by injuries and illness but so is every team in the NFL. It is a coach’s job to manage through that and find ways to manufacture points and wins, not use the injury bug as a scapegoat. And while dealing with admittedly difficult circumstances, Adam Gase has shown no growth or maturity from his days with Miami, continues to make the same mistakes, and has shown very little to support Christopher Johnson’s claim that “He is coaching to where football is going.”

If you have ever read my work before, you’ll know that I often believe that the truth or right answer lie right down the middle. This is the case here. It does not have to be one side or the other. It is all true. The Jets had a talent-deficient roster to start the year (particularly on the offensive line and cornerback) and that was magnified by them being decimated by injury across the board. Sam Darnold could have shown more. In spots, he has been great and he has undoubtedly taken a step forward. But how big that step was is questionable. And should it have been bigger under the tutelage of the offensive genius Adam Gase? The Jets should have been a more consistent, prepared, and competitive team. Adam Gase should have shown growth and adaptability, both in game and throughout the week. It is concerning that every problem he had in Miami is following him to Florham Park: consistently losing by double digits, roster riddled with injury, no involvement on defense, bottom ranked offense, locker room issues, etc. The list goes on and on.

Had the Jets won a game against Buffalo in which they had a 16-point third quarter lead, or very winnable games against teams in Miami, Jacksonville, or Cincinnati that are a combined 10-35, then they’d be in the playoff hunt and we’d all be singing a different tune. However, good teams win those games, bad teams don’t. Right now, the Jets are a bad team on the fringe of mediocre, with a subpar head coach and a laundry list of improvement areas for the offseason. And those are the facts.


1. The Jets need to re-sign Robby Anderson. If the league has taught us anything, it’s that a quality, young QB on a rookie contract is a huge key to success. You don’t make that young QB’s job more difficult by taking weapons away from him. You keep the playmakers you have and continue to add talent and depth.

2. What Gregg Williams continues to do on the defensive side of the ball gets more impressive with every week.

3. Is it against Adam Gase’s moral code to call a designed rollout for Sam Darnold?

4. Marcus Maye… nice to see you.

5. The thought of Jamison Crowder, Robby Anderson, Le’Veon Bell, Chris Herndon, Ryan Griffin and a legitimate number one receiver for 2020 is exciting. Don’t ruin this for us, Joe Douglas.

6. The Jets got an ugly win against a good team vying for a playoff spot. Credit goes to the entire team. But if Adam Gase’s game plan was for Sam Darnold to be a game manager and not lose the game, then Adam Gase’s game plan was stupid.

7. Jamal Adams didn’t have an incredible stat line, but his presence was felt on the field on Sunday. Keep that man in Gotham Green.

8. Every week, I become more convinced that Adam Gase is stubborn in his belief that system trumps talent (see #3). Talent wins in the NFL. And talent wins because good coaches recognize quality and build systems to highlight strengths and mitigate weaknesses. If you can’t find a way to get Sam Darnold on the move or adjust to a player’s running style like Le’Veon Bell’s, then maybe you shouldn’t be a head coach in this league. I never heard Dick Vermeil say that Marshall Faulk’s style didn’t fit his system…

9. I like the fact that Gregg Williams has a quick hook when a guy makes a mistake. Bless Austin has been outstanding thus far (considering circumstances) and got beat badly in a crucial spot on Sunday. Nate Hairston had it happen to him earlier in the year. I appreciate that in a coach. My problem is, however, where was that quick hook with Trumaine Johnson early this season when he was getting toasted up and down the field?
10. This team needs an overhaul. There is no disputing that. They need 3-5 new
starters on the offensive line, they need cornerbacks, they need an edge rusher, they need a receiver, and they need depth across the board (except on the defensive line). Take note of what Buffalo did. Look at how Indianapolis rebuilt themselves. Too often I hear that the Jets are still two years (or more) away. NO THEY ARE NOT. This is the NFL. Teams can turn it around quickly, and it’s on Joe Douglas to right the ship. This can be done. It has to be done. Make it happen. Playoffs or bust in 2020.

As Vince Vaughn famously said in Wedding Crashers… “Rule #76: No excuses, play like a champion.”