We have a saying in New York…”the Jets will always let you down.” In USA Today, Andy Vasquez reports on the firing of Jets Defensive Coordinator, Gregg Williams, after calling a blitz with no Safety help with seconds remaining in their game yesterday against the Raiders. Most everyone in the world would have been in a “Prevent Defense” set-up. In the Post Game Show on CBS it looked like Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason, and Bill Cowher, were about to lose their lunch. In the report below Vasquez dwells into another important topic…why didn’t Head Coach Adam Gase veto the call. Here’s the report:
The New York Jets fired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on Monday morning, less than 24 hours after they squandered their best chance to finally win a game this season.
And it was because of an all-time bad defensive play-call in the final seconds against the Raiders.
Monday afternoon we got some answers about what exactly went down when coach Adam Gase spoke to reporters. Here’s what you need to know from Gase’s interview:
Who fired Gregg Williams?
Gase said it was his call to fire Williams, and that he made the decision in consultation with the other higher ups within the organization.
“This morning I relieved Gregg Williams with his duties as the defensive coordinator,” Gase said. “Organizationally, we had a discussion this morning and we felt like that was the best move for us to make.”
Gase said he was upset Sunday night, after the way the Jets lost the game – the Raiders scored a touchdown with five seconds remaining to win 31-28. Just moments earlier, the Jets had been celebrating on the sideline, thinking they had finally done enough to get a win. So he decided to try to think things through, rather than make a rash decision.
“[Sunday] night, it was more just me thinking through everything, trying to get some sleep, not make a rushed decision,” Gase said. “And when I came in this morning, still felt like it was what we needed to do.”
So he ran the decision by general manager Joe Douglas, team president Hymie Elhai and CEO Christopher Johnson.
“[I] circled with the guys I needed to circle with,” Gase said. “And we were all in agreement.”
Frank Bush, who is the team’s assistant head coach and inside linebackers coach, will serve as the interim defensive coordinator in Williams’ absence.
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Why was Williams fired?
Gase said he fired Williams because of the defensive call he made late in the game that ended in disaster.
“I obviously wasn’t happy about that call,” Gase said. “That was a heartbreaking way for our guys to lose the game, for that to happen in that situation, just we can’t have that happen.”
The Jets were up 28-24 with 13 seconds left and the Raiders facing third-and-10 from the Jets’ 46. The only thing that could hurt them was a touchdown.
And yet rather than protect the end zone, Williams called a “cover zero” blitz. Basically, every player who wasn’t assigned to cover a potential receiver went after the quarterback. That left his young cornerbacks with no defensive help. And disaster struck, when Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs III burned undrafted rookie Lamar Jackson for a touchdown.
Jets safety Marcus Maye was openly critical of the call after the game. And while Gase said that had nothing to do with the decision to fire Williams, Maye certainly wasn’t the only one who felt that way about the decision.
And Gase was surely worried that other players had lost confidence in the defensive coordinator after such a questionable decision.
“Yeah, the head coach can tell guys what to call whenever they want, that’s part of the gig,” Gase said. “I have not, I hired Gregg because I trusted him to make the right calls and run the defense.
“I know Marcus was upset, that is why it is tough to talk after games because emotions are high,” Gase added. “I know I was in a very similar spot mentally after that game. That’s what made this morning hard, try to think through everything, try to think what’s best for our team, and that’s why the decision that I made was made.”
Why didn’t Gase overrule the call?
Gase surely bears some responsibility for the call, too. He’s the one who hired Williams before last season. And he had a headset on Sunday afternoon on the sideline, so he was likely aware of what was going on in that moment. And if he wasn’t, he should have been.
And he admitted after the game that he should have overruled the call.
“I wish I would [have],” Gase said. “Sometimes during a game, you are talking through a bunch of situations and that comes up, I wish I would have called timeout, but I didn’t.”
The head coach has the authority to overrule a call. But Gase said that in his 28 games working with Williams he had never done that before.
“I hired Gregg because I trusted him to make the right calls and run the defense,” Gase said.
But in this case, that trust backfired in a big way.
Is Gase next?
Judgment day for Gase is coming soon.
And with the Jets at 0-12 this season and 7-21 since he took over as coach before the start of the 2019 season.
And with the offense sitting at the bottom of the league, Gase will almost certainly meet the same fate as Williams when Johnson evaluates his performance after this year.
What is Williams’ NFL future?
Gase said he sat down with Williams on Monday morning and had a long – and surely uncomfortable – conversation.
“Gregg and myself talked for close to an hour,” Gase said. “Obviously, he wasn’t happy, like most of us are when this happens, but that’s our profession, we’ve all been in that situation when we’ve lost our jobs.”
But will Williams, who at age 62 is much closer to the end of his career than the beginning, get another shot in the NFL?
It’s hard to say, but it seems unlikely.
Williams was already viewed as a controversial figure long before Gase hired him to run his defense. He was suspended by the league for his involvement in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal. And he has developed a reputation for a brash confidence that borders on arrogance.
No one knows exactly why Williams made that play-call. He wasn’t required to speak to reporters after the game. But his decision was likely based in his confidence, which has been known to border on irrational. He thought he could end the game in a dramatic way, by sacking Carr, and it backfired.
Williams’ time with the Jets had its share of good moments, including the tremendous job he did in 2019 getting a group that didn’t have much talent to play at a high level.
But Sunday’s final play-call will only feed into the perception that Gregg Williams loves himself as Gregg Williams. And with all the baggage that already surrounds him, teams might decide that it’s not worth the trouble in the future.
- Andy Vasquez