Jets latest blunders show disconnect between coaches and players after falling to 4-5

Jets 2023 offensive struggles continue
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh speaks to reporters after a practice at the NFL football team’s training facility in Florham Park, N.J., Thursday, July 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

1:22 left. Down by four. 

How in the world did the New York Jets find themselves in this situation?!

The New York Jets found themselves trailing late in Sunday night’s contest in Las Vegas against the Raiders with their season hanging in the balance. They had outgained the Silver and Black by over 100 yards, threw for over 130 more passing yards, and converted on a higher rate of third downs. 

Yet despite their statistical improvements throughout the game, New York’s main Achilles heel kept creeping up in the worst possible times. Penalties, miscues, and an untimely turnover wiped away all the good that came from the early stages of the game to send the Jets home with a 16-12 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders and a 4-5 record. 

 How the heck did this team lose in a game they looked so good in at times?!

This is the prevailing question. In the end, the main reason for a loss such as Sunday night falls directly at the faces of the organization. 

It’s easy to blame Zach Wilson for his game-sealing interception to Robert Spillane in the closing minutes of the contest. Analysts, fans, and rivals are already doing it. But Wilson was not the key culprit for New York’s second straight loss though. All things considered, the young signal-caller had one of his better games overall in the Sin City. 

Jets fall to Raiders 16-12
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) throws under pressure from Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (90) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The harder part to come to terms with is that a loss like Sunday night only comes when a team is poorly prepared and poorly coached. The Jets had several chances on offense to score touchdowns but each drive seemed to find a new and creative penalty that sunk them continuously in their recent rut. When Breece Hall appeared to end a multiple-game touchdown drought, the celebration was quickly short-lived when CJ Uzomah was called for an obvious holding penalty – his second of the game. 

It was big play after big play being called back for different offensive mistakes. In total, the Jets were called for eight penalties and 83 yards lost in the game. While part of the blame can go to the players, the consistency that has come from these types of penalties shows that true blame belongs at the foot of the coaching staff.

When Robert Saleh took control as head coach three years ago, he came as a player’s coach with a strong defensive background. If he could figure out the offensive side by hiring a strong coordinator, and find the right quarterback, his time in Florham Park would be strong. 

Instead, in the three years that Saleh has been at the helm of the Jets, instability at quarterback and play-caller, a lack of discipline on both sides of the ball, and losses have become what his organization has become most well known for. 

What is probably more frightening is that the Jets find new ways to lose in 2023 that have more to do with a lack of preparation than anything else. Penalties have been a consistent problem for the offense all season after Aaron Rodgers was lost with a torn Achilles. In four of the last five games, the Jets have been called for eight or more penalties. Regressed quarterback play and poor play-calls also have their own hand in the stretch of inept offensive football. 

When a team goes 11 straight quarters without scoring a touchdown – especially in the modern era of the game – it says more about the lack of adjustments being made by the coaching staff than anything else. When a team continuously gets called for obvious penalties every game, it says more about the lack of accountability in the building.

There comes a time when the message a player’s coach has becomes stale and is ignored. The lack of accountability shown in the halls of the Jets facility is apparent when, for another consecutive week, the same penalties are called, the same missed throws are made, and the same theme is being played out. Eventually, the lack of changes on the field shows that the coach is not being listened to. 

Jets stay course on offense
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh, answers questions during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The longer Saleh and the rest of the coaching staff go on without making any significant changes on the offensive side (QB and play-calling changed) the easier it is to blame him and the kind of organization he is running. He may not have been given a fair shake with Rodgers’ injury, or the lack of healthy players on the offensive line, but a touchdown drought this long should be enough for heads to roll in certain spots. 

And the longer the mindless penalties that sink offensive drives continue, the wider the gap seems to be in what the coaching staff is emphasizing and what the players are trying to do on the field.

Changes are needed in Florham Park immediately. The longer Saleh and his staff wait, and it might be him that’s removed at the end of the year. 

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