The Jets cut the cord on Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams Monday morning after a last-second 31-28 meltdown that cost the team their first win Sunday evening. Williams called a cover zero blitz, leaving undrafted free-agent cornerback Lamar Jackson in one-on-one coverage with Vegas’ speedy first-round receiver Henry Ruggs III. Ruggs ran right past Jackson and caught the game-winning touchdown on 3rd and 10 with five seconds left on the clock. Jets safety and team captain Marcus Maye followed the game with a post-game press conference where he shared his dissatisfaction with Williams’ call, stating “We have to execute, but you have to help us out at the same time,” and repeating that it “should have been a better call” from the sideline. Jets Head Coach Adam Gase in a press conference on Monday stressed that he decided to fire Williams, stating “Obviously, I wasn’t happy about that call. For that to happen in that situation, we just… we can’t have that happen.” Gase also added, “I wish I would’ve called a timeout, but I didn’t.” Inside linebackers coach, Frank Bush has been named interim defensive coordinator.
Is it concerning that Gase has the power to fire a coach?
No. Gase did tell reporters that it was, in fact, his decision to fire Williams, but only after getting the green light from the higher-ups; General Manager Joe Douglas, President Hymie Elhai, and CEO Christopher Johnson. While the head coach does normally have authority over their own coaching staff, everyone had a hand in the move, Gase just sparked an inevitable conversation. This was not an emotional impulse decision by one guy.
How believable is it that Maye’s comments had nothing to do with the decision?
Honestly, not very. While Gase claims that Maye’s comments had “nothing to do” with the decision to fire Williams, a highly-respected team captain calling out a coach’s play-call is not a quiet voice to ignore. It was screaming in the face of Williams in only a way that Marcus Maye could do so. Normally when players speak out against a coach’s decision, they are disciplined by the team. Rather, in this case, the coach ends up getting laid off the next day. It’s hard to believe Maye’s comments had absolutely no impact on the timing of the move.
Is Gase attempting to make Williams the scapegoat and potentially keep his job?
No. Reporters including Ian Rapoport, Adam Schefter, and Connor Hughes have confirmed that Adam Gase will not be returning in 2021. The move had to be made with more urgency due to factors including a final-second meltdown and heat from a team captain.
Wouldn’t the “best decision” for the team include firing Gase?
Yes, but not now. Don’t add the unnecessary stress of firing him just to move coaches around to fill empty spaces. Unless Gase does his best Gregg Williams impression and makes a call that costs the Jets a win with five seconds left and gets called out by Frank Gore in the post-game press conference, ride it out and fire him after the Patriots game. The same easy exit that they gave Todd Bowles following the 2017 season finale. And in addition, the “best decision for the team” quote is a cookie-cutter answer that is just used to avoid major headlines. The best decision does include firing Gase, but as stated, not yet; after the season finale.
If Gregg was not coaching well, doesn’t this hurt the tank?
Not necessarily. With all due respect to Frank Bush, no firing and promoting a new coordinator is going to magically fix the Jets defense, or even have any impact really, for that matter. The defense will still consist of the same players and will be coached by someone who coached in Williams’ system for two years, so will likely have similar success running a similar defense, if not identical. In terms of power rankings, this moves the Jets defense virtually nowhere. There really won’t be any difference other than the occasional creative play-call that only Williams could draw up, whether it’d end up a good or bad call.
Was the play-call intentional?
No. Williams knew he’d be out of the job in a month, so why would he care about where the team is picking in April when he won’t be part of the organization anymore? Williams isn’t coaching for the Jets’ future, he was ultimately coaching for a job. Williams is an aggressive defensive coordinator even if it isn’t always for the best. Calling a cover zero blitz with five seconds remaining in a game with a three-point lead is a prime example of this. Un-ironically, Williams told fans at training camp in 2018 that his favorite play-call is an “all-out cover zero” blitz.