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The Jets’ Terrible Defensive Call Shocked Players on Both Sides

In Monday’s Hot Clicks: Gregg Williams’s baffling defensive play call, Steve Kornacki’s NFL analysis and more.

That’s how you end up 0–12

For a while there it looked like the Jets were about to snap their winless streak. They scored a touchdown with 5:34 left to take a 28–24 lead over the Raiders and seemed to really have it locked up when Las Vegas turned the ball over on downs with 1:42 remaining. But, this being the Jets, they found a way to blow it. 

Derek Carr’s game-winning pass to Henry Ruggs really couldn’t have been much easier, thanks to the play that Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams called. 

It was a “Cover 0” play, meaning there was no safety behind the play to help out in coverage. The Jets rushed seven, and the Raiders had tight end Darren Waller and running back Jalen Richard stay home in pass protection. The seven Raiders blockers picked up the seven Jets rushers with relative ease. Safety Matthias Farley hung back just behind the front seven, “spying” Carr in case he decided to tuck it and run for some reason. The other three defenders played man coverage on the three Vegas receivers. 

The lack of safety help meant that all star rookie receiver Ruggs had to do was beat undrafted rookie corner Lamar Jackson one-on-one. Jackson totally bit on Ruggs’s feint, and Ruggs was two steps past him when the ball arrived for an easy touchdown. 

It was a shockingly risky decision by Williams. While most defensive coordinators would have tried to smother the opposing receivers by dropping seven or eight men into coverage, the Jets became the only team this season to send eight or more rushers on a play in the final 30 seconds of the game. 

Safety Marcus Maye, the Jets' defensive captain, didn’t hide his frustration after the game. 

“That situation, just has to be a better call,” Maye told reporters. “We got to execute, but you got to help us out at the same time.”

“We fought hard to put ourselves in the position to win,” he added. “That’s the point in the game we’ve just got to be in a better call.”

Carr was shocked to see what the defense was doing on the play and knew right away that he was in luck. 

“I couldn’t believe they all-out blitzed us,” Carr said. “As soon as I saw it, I was thankful.”

There were a lot of jokes after the game about the Jets' blowing it on purpose to continue their pursuit of the No. 1 draft pick and Trevor Lawrence. But as former NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz pointed out, this coaching staff isn’t going to try to lose a game to make next year’s Jets team better, because they’re not going to be in New York next year. 

No, this game was just a symptom of what makes the Jets so terrible. It’s a team with a lousy coaching staff and not a lot of talent. A better coach would have called a better play there. Or, even if you have a dumb coach who makes a bad play call, a better cornerback wouldn’t have fallen so hard for Ruggs’s stutter step. In the Jets’ case, they have a reckless defensive coordinator and they’re forced to start an undrafted rookie at corner. It’s a recipe for disaster in the short term, but it looks like it’ll end up gifting them the best quarterback prospect in a generation.

UPDATE: That was predictable. 

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