NEW YORK (AP) — A stunning loss left the still-winless New York Jets disappointed and frustrated. It also cost defensive coordinator Gregg Williams his job.
They’re 0-12, and this nightmare of a season is crawling to its merciful conclusion.
“It’s not fun. Losing sucks,” quarterback Sam Darnold said Monday. “You don’t ever envision yourself losing this many games in consecutive order. It’s definitely tough.”
It’s hard to say when the Jets hit rock bottom because they seem to find a new low every week. But Sunday’s 31-28 loss might be difficult to top, a demoralizing defeat that broke their hearts — and maybe their competitive spirit.
The Jets were on the verge of their elusive first win, leading 28-24 in the closing seconds. But Williams inexplicably called for an all-out blitz against Las Vegas, and Derek Carr connected with Henry Ruggs III for what became a winning 46-yard touchdown pass with 5 seconds left.
The New York players went from celebrating just a few moments earlier to standing in stunned silence. Coach Adam Gase was furious at Williams’ play call and decided — with the blessing of CEO Christopher Johnson, general manager Joe Douglas and team president Hymie Elhai — to fire the defensive coordinator Monday morning.
“I just felt like that was the best thing for our team moving forward,” Gase said.
Lost a bit in the shuffle was Gase’s offense going three-and-out with a chance to seal the game, leading to the defense needing to take the field one final time.
The Jets are four losses away from joining the 2008 Cleveland Browns and 2017 Detroit Lions as the NFL’s only 0-16 teams. It’s looking increasingly more like a possibility with each brutal loss. Still, the move by Gase to fire Williams took some players by surprise.
“It’s hard to explain because we have a ton of respect for Gregg Williams,” defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi said. “We know this a tough business, but we have to figure out a way to move on.”
Otherwise, these Jets will be making more dubious history before all is said and done.
They’ve already equaled the franchise record for the most consecutive losses with 12, tying the mark set over the 1995 and ’96 seasons under Rich Kotite. That 1996 squad went 1-15 and is generally regarded the worst in team history.
As long as that zero remains in the wins column, this year’s team has a chance to take that undesirable label.
“It’s tough to not win a game at this point in the season,” Darnold said. “You just never envision it as a player, as a coach, as a part of an organization.”
The run game. Out of nowhere, the Jets used a ground-and-pound approach that hadn’t been seen in Gase’s two seasons. Ty Johnson took over as the primary ball carrier after Frank Gore left early with a concussion, and ran for a career-high 104 yards with a touchdown on 22 carries — the Jets’ first 100-yard rusher since Isaiah Crowell had a franchise-record 219 yards in 2018. Josh Adams finished with 74 yards on eight carries as New York racked up 206 yards on the ground.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Pass coverage. While the final defensive play call is the one most will remember, the Jets’ inability to cover Raiders tight end Darren Waller was eye-poppingly bad. Waller had 13 catches for 200 yards and two touchdowns while running freely through and past the defense all game.
Neville Hewitt. The inside linebacker has quietly become a consistent playmaker for the Jets since earning a starting role last season. He had a team-leading 12 tackles Sunday and a sack, a quarterback hit and a tackle for loss. Hewitt has 101 tackles on the season, the most for a Jets player through 12 games since David Harris (105) in 2009.
Lamar Jackson. It’s tough to place all the blame on the undrafted rookie because Williams’ play call was the primary culprit, but Jackson bit on Ruggs’ double move and allowed him to get behind him and make the winning TD catch. Jackson has started the last three games since New York cut veteran Pierre Desir.
“I heard the call, and I’ve got to execute it,” Jackson said. “I didn’t execute it to the best of my ability or how I wanted to. It’s tough, but at the same time, I also know that call is not going to define me or my career.”
RG Greg Van Roten (toe), S Ashtyn Davis (foot) and S Bennett Jackson (hamstring) could all be out the rest of the season. … Gase said LB Jordan Jenkins is being evaluated for a shoulder injury that could sideline him at practice a few days, if not longer.
6 — Despite the offense’s struggles all season, the Jets have managed to get off to good starts lately. They have scored on their opening possession in six straight games with two touchdowns and four field goals. It’s the longest such active streak in the NFL.
The Jets will head to Seattle, where they’ll face old friend Jamal Adams, looking to avoid setting some dubious team history Sunday with a 13th consecutive defeat.
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