As Robert Saleh holds firm on Jets offense, players talk: ‘We have to do something’ | ET REALITY


LAS VEGAS – The New York Jets’ season has become a game of Mad Libs. I may change some nouns or adjectives here and there, but in the end the story remains the same.

The defense plays well. The offense can’t finish drives. The offense does not reach the end zone. Zach Wilson makes some confusing decisions. Greg Zuerlein has a busy day, kicking field goals, the only source of offense. Thomas Morstead has a busy day punting because the offense can’t move the ball consistently. Sanctions kill impulses. The defense does its job. The Jets are still in the game at the end. Then it’s over.

Robert Saleh mentions self-inflicted injuries in his postgame press conference, but feels the Jets are close. He won’t blame the quarterback or the offensive coordinator. The defensive players bite their tongues and talk about how the team would win if they could only score points themselves, or limit their opponents to zero points instead of 3, 6, 10 or 16. The offensive players are left speechless.

Rinse, repeat. It’s all the same, and Saleh doesn’t seem eager to make the kind of change that could make the offense competent. He won’t bench Wilson. He won’t take snaps away from offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. The Jets lost Sunday to the Raiders 16-12, a team so dysfunctional that it fired its head coach, general manager and offensive coordinator a few weeks ago, with one of the worst defenses in the league and a fourth-round rookie starting as quarterback. . And it was the same as always.

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If Saleh isn’t going to take the reins of the Jets’ offense and do whatever it takes to fix it before the season fades into nothing (another playoff-less year, like so many before), then maybe the players will have to do it. take control of the situation for themselves.

“Today they asked me: Are you okay to talk to the media?” tight end Tyler Conklin said after the game. “I said, yes, I will talk, but what do you expect me to say? That’s the thing, it’s a broken record right now. We have to solve it. We can’t keep coming out here and doing this over and over again. Let the defense fall, our team fall. I wish I had answers to (reporters’) questions about why we can’t score in the red zone, why we had a lot of penalties, all that stuff, but there’s really no good answer to give them other than we have to figure it out one way or another. time”.

The Jets scored on their first three drives Sunday night, all field goals. After that, they punted on five straight drives, followed by another field goal, a Wilson interception and then time ran out on the final drive. The Jets haven’t scored a touchdown in 11 quarters. They have scored 13 offensive touchdowns in nine games. Wilson has thrown a touchdown pass in his last five games and five of the season. For comparison, Josh Dobbs has scored six touchdowns in two games in 12 days since he was traded to the Vikings. At the end of Sunday’s game, the Jets had five punts, four field goals, eight penalties, 14 first downs and zero touchdowns. Five of those first downs came on the final two drives of the game.

“It’s frustrating,” running back Breece Hall said. “I’ve been saying that since week one.”

Wide receiver Garrett Wilson appeared emotionally distraught after the game, on the verge of tears.

“I don’t know what they want me to say,” Wilson said. “I’m tired of this, man. I want to play better. The offense wants to play better. Every week we try to make this happen. It’s frustrating.”

The first words out of Saleh’s mouth at his post-match press conference were the same ones he has said almost every week, win or lose. All everyone wants to know is why his offense has somehow gotten worse since last year, when he parted ways with Mike LaFleur as his offensive coordinator and revamped his offensive coaching staff.

He has made many excuses. The Jets have not been able to find any solution.

“The hard part for me is when I watch the game: It’s easy to look at the play-caller, the head coach, the quarterback,” Saleh said. “But we are moving the ball. Today we moved the ball. But they’re just penalties, O-line penalties, tight end penalties, running back penalties. Just stupid, really stupid things that we have to clean up or they’re not going to change. But we can clean it up and at least give ourselves the opportunity to play clean football, to see how it looks. “I still think it will look pretty good.”

The Jets reached the red zone once on Sunday and didn’t convert. That’s the expectation at this point for the NFL’s worst red zone offense. But the defense did its job again and another pretty impressive performance was wasted. The Raiders went 5 of 15 on third down, quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for 153 yards and the Jets held star receiver Davante Adams without a catch in the second half. They forced two turnovers, including a forced fumble late in the fourth quarter to stifle a potential Raiders scoring drive. Zach Wilson then turned around and gave it back when he telegraphed a pass to wide receiver Allen Lazard, allowing linebacker Robert Spillane to jump in front of him for what became a game-winning interception.

Wilson wasn’t the problem Sunday, but he’s still a problem. Wilson threw for 263 yards, but 92 came on the final two drives. The plays did him no favors; At times, it seemed like Hackett was afraid to let Wilson do anything other than hand him over or control him. Breece Hall had 47 yards on three receptions, but wasn’t targeted until the fourth quarter, even though he is the most dynamic player the Jets have with the ball in his hands.

“It’s something we definitely need to consider,” Saleh said.

The Jets defense, which ranks third in the NFL in expected points added, according to TruMedia, and seventh in points allowed, is being held to an impossible standard. If he gives up any points or doesn’t score any, the Jets will probably lose. They know it too. This is not the defense of a 4-5 team. It’s a playoff-caliber defense trapped in a mediocre, corrective offense.

“I’m not going to say it’s surprising,” cornerback Sauce Gardner said of the 4-5 record. “We don’t play complementary football. It’s just a fact. It’s no surprise.”

The defense knows they have zero margin for error with this offense playing this way.

“Yes, but that’s how they train us,” Gardner said. “The training is that if they can’t score, they won’t win. When you accept that, we always put it on ourselves.”

Saleh may not want to make a change, but it seems the players are ready to make one. This week, that could come in the form of a “players only” meeting, the cliché meeting for teams that find themselves falling apart.

“Yes, everything is on the table,” Garrett Wilson said. “We are trying to figure it out. I can see something like this happening soon because it has to. I’m going to take care of it myself. We’ve got some guys in this locker room that know how to lead and we’ll see what it’s like to travel back to New York, what we talk about. We have to do something.”

Conklin went further.

“We’re definitely at that point where something has to be done,” Conklin said. “We can’t start next week and get the ball rolling and expect it to get better. “I don’t know what we have to do, but we have to do something this week to get on the same page.”

It is now Week 11. The Jets have played nine games. The offense is worse now than before. This should be a playoff team. Instead, the Jets are losing to the Raiders and barely beating the Giants.

“It’s very frustrating,” Conklin said.

(Photo by Garrett Wilson and Nate Hobbs: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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