Gregg Williams Fired After Jets Blow Lead to Raiders
07 December 2020
The New York Jets lost again in Week 13, this time to the Las Vegas Raiders. But it wasn’t the fact that they lost that made the headlines. Instead, it was how they lost that did so. An inexplicable play call not only allowed the Raiders to win the game at the end, it also resulted in a change in the coaching staff while keeping the Jets’ chances of going 0-16 alive.
Blitz Leads to Gregg Williams’ Firing
With 13 seconds remaining in the game, and the Jets holding a 28-24 lead, the Raiders had the ball at the Jets’ 46 yard line. In that situation, it is common for NFL defenses to play a prevent defense, positioning defenders deep downfield to avoid letting a deep pass result in a late score. Instead, Jets’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams called an all-out blitz, leaving the Jets’ cornerbacks one-on-one with Las Vegas’ receivers.
The result of that decision was catastrophic for the Jets. Derek Carr was able to get just enough pass protection to fire the ball deep to Henry Ruggs. Ruggs created separation from his defender and hauled in what turned into the game-winning touchdown. If the blitz got to Carr quickly enough, this decision would have still come under scrutiny. But it didn’t, and will go down in history as one of the most ill-conceived play calls in the history of the moribund franchise. Williams, for his decision, was fired the day after the game.
Williams is known for his aggressive play-calling style. In fact, his involvement in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal was too aggressive for the standards of the NFL. But his call to send a blitz in that situation was needlessly aggressive when simply not letting the Raiders throw an uncontested deep ball would yield a victory nearly every time. In fact, Williams’ decision wasn’t just misguided, it was unprecedented in its stupidity according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
New York Jets 0-16 Odds
As a result of the Jets’ improbable defeat at the hands of the Raiders, their chances of finishing this season with an 0-16 record improved. NFL betting odds from DraftKings Sportsbook have the Jets at -110 to finish 0-16 for the year. Their odds of getting a win before the end of the season also sit at -110 odds. Given that this was their best chance to win a game so far, it is hard to imagine a scenario where the Jets pick up a victory the rest of the way.
Also hard to imagine is the fact that head coach Adam Gase has kept his job in spite of the current situation surrounding the Jets. While Williams was responsible for the disastrous play call at the end of the Raiders game, Gase could have prevented it from manifesting on the field if he wanted to. And while it is unlikely that Gase remains the head coach of the Jets beyond this season, the fact that he has survived this debacle is proof of organizational rot within the Jets.
Should Gase be fired at the end of this season, rumors are swirling that Bill Cowher could have an interest in replacing him. Cowher is best known for coaching the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Super Bowl, and reports indicate that he would hear the Jets out if they ended this season with the top pick in the draft. That top draft pick would presumably be used to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
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The Jets’ remaining schedule does not inspire much confidence that they can pick up a win. Their four remaining games come against the Seattle Seahawks, the Los Angeles Rams, the Cleveland Browns and the New England Patriots. All four of those teams are at least in the running for a playoff spot, and all have significant advantages over the Jets from a coaching and talent standpoint.
Frank Bush has been named the interim defensive coordinator of the Jets after Gregg Williams’ firing. Bush does not carry the same name recognition, but that could be a good thing given Williams’ infamy within the sport. At this point in the season, it might be better for the Jets to lose all of their games anyway, so their replacement for Williams will not be burdened by lofty expectations.
No, the Jets did not try to lose to the Raiders. The players in the NFL are never trying to lose given the financial and physical ramifications of playing the sport at this level. And it does not appear that the coaching staff was calling any plays with the intention of losing. This was just one bad play call from an overly aggressive coach, one that cost the Jets their best shot at a win in 2020.