It was one too many blitzes for New York Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
On Monday, a day after a baffling blitz call by Williams on the Jets’ final defensive play of the game cost the team its first win of the 2020 season, the Jets announced that they had parted ways with the veteran coordinator, who had been with the team since 2019.
New York has lifted assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Frank Bush, a 27-year NFL coaching veteran who’s been with the team since 2019, to the role of interim defensive coordinator in a corresponding move.
The Jets were the only winless team in the NFL at 0-11 heading into Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders, who were at 6-5 themselves. Despite those records, the Jets led for most of the game and were up 28-24 in the late stages of the contest, even managing to stop the Raiders on a fourth down attempt inside their red zone with under two minutes left.
Las Vegas would get the ball back with just over 30 seconds remaining, however. After driving his team up to New York’s 46-yardline, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr spiked the ball with 13 seconds left.
Instead of sitting back and playing some sort of deep zone or prevent defense as is common in these situations, Williams decided to bring the kitchen sink—as in, he called an all-out blitz with 13 seconds left. The gamble failed miserably, as the play left rookie corner Lamar Jackson in one-on-one coverage with Raiders first round pick Henry Ruggs III, who burnt Jackson like a pasty guy at the beach on a double move with his 4.27 speed before hauling in the game-winning 46-yard bomb from Carr to win it 31-28 for the Raiders.
The decision from Williams to bring eight defenders on an all-out blitz in that situation is literally unprecedented: In the previous 252 plays called in the final 15 seconds of a game, up 4-8 points, with 40+ yards to the end zone, Williams was the first one to call a blitz that brought six-plus players. And he brought eight. The Jets telling him to kick rocks should really be no surprise.
Defensive captain and safety Marcus Maye—who was one of the three defenders who dropped back in man coverage, his assignment being the slot receiver, Hunter Renfrow—openly questioned the play call after the game during an agitated postgame press conference.
“That situation, there’s gotta be a better call,” Maye said.
Now 0-12, the Jets are dangerously close to joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go a full 16-game season without a win. Betting site 888sports now has them at -110 odds to go the full 0-16, with matchups against the Seattle Seahawks (8-4), the Los Angeles Rams (8-4), the Cleveland Browns (9-3), and the New England Patriots (6-6) remaining. A tough schedule like that down the stretch certainly makes those odds for a winless Jets season look mighty tasty.