Like many football fans, Patriots coach Bill Belichick caught some of the epic Rams-Chiefs game on Monday night. When asked about his takeaway from the 54-51 offensive explosion, Belichick gave a very Belichickian answer.
“Yeah, the Jets,” Belichick said. “That’s my takeaway, getting ready for the Jets.”
He may have been the only one thinking about the Jets watching that game. The Jets are about as far away from the Chiefs and Rams offensively as Jamaica, Queens, is from Jamaica, the island.
Consider this: there were 10 passing touchdowns thrown between the two teams on Monday night. The Jets have 11 passing touchdowns … this season. Each team scored more than 50 points. The Jets have scored 43 points combined in their last four games.
All of it underscored the need for the Jets to hire an offensive coach when they decide to replace Todd Bowles after this season, as it looks certain they will. For too long, the Jets have gone down the defensive road, from Al Groh to Herm Edwards to Eric Mangini to Rex Ryan and then Bowles. Even Bill Parcells came from a defensive background, but he was more of a CEO-type coach by the time he got to the Jets.
If Christopher Johnson were watching that game Monday night, he had to be wondering if his Jets play a different sport than the teams on his TV. There was imagination, excitement and a frenetic energy to the offenses called by Andy Reid and Sean McVay.
The biggest winners from Monday night’s game might be those offensive coaching candidates out there, whether that is Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo or Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley or Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor.
Look around the league and nearly all the best teams are led by offensive minds – the Rams, the Chiefs, the Saints, the Texans, the Chargers, the Bears. There are a few exceptions, such as the Steelers and Patriots, but those teams are winning with offense, too.
If you look at the top five teams in total offense, only the Buccaneers are not in first place. The Rams, Chiefs, Saints and Steelers all lead their division. The top five on defense are the Ravens, Bills, Bears, Jaguars and Vikings. Only the Bears are in first place in that group.
For the Jets, it has been a familiarly frustrating season on offense. First-year coordinator Jeremy Bates has not had the answers. The Jets are 29th in total offense and 29th in passing offense. Some of that can be attributed to personnel — a rookie quarterback in Sam Darnold and a lack of weapons — but it can’t all be pinned on that. His scheme is predictable and shows very little creativity.
The Jets can only hope a coaching change does for Darnold what it did for Jared Goff in Los Angeles. People were ready to give up on Goff after his rookie season with Jeff Fisher. There was talk that he was a bust. Now he’s an MVP candidate.
The Jets are still very high on Darnold, but any objective observer can see he has not played well recently. He is currently last in quarterback rating and has thrown the most interceptions in the league.
The offensive struggles are not all on Darnold. The receivers have been invisible for weeks. The offensive line is way too inconsistent, and the running game has vanished since its record-setting week against the Broncos in early October.
The offensive ineptitude has left the Jets in a hole in nearly every game. They have not scored on an opening drive this season, and managed just 24 total points in the first quarter this year.
The Jets have scored first only twice this season – against the Browns and the Colts (on a defensive touchdown). They have played from behind in every other game, including spotting big leads against the Dolphins (20-0), Jaguars (18-0) and Bills (31-0) before getting on the scoreboard.
“That speaks for itself,” Bowles said Monday. “We got to do a way better job.”
The buzzword around the Jets the last few weeks has been “execution,” as in they just didn’t execute. That is definitely part of it, but scheme has also played a large role in this offense’s anemic performance.
The future of football was on display Monday night. It is time for the Jets to catch up.