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New York Jets have 'world' of problems on offense, starting early in games


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New York Jets have 'world' of problems on offense, starting early in games

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The Jets offense has sputtered in first halves under first-time NFL coordinator Mike LaFleur. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets have the "best scheme in the world" on offense, coach Robert Saleh has said on multiple occasions. But they don't have the best offense in the world, that's for sure. Heck, they don't even have the most productive offense in their own town, as the boys from Hanover Park High are averaging more than 38 points per game.

Clearly, Saleh has a strong belief in the Kyle Shanahan version of the West Coast offense, which is tried and true, but it doesn't work on auto pilot. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur can't call plays based on cheat sheets he saved from his years at Shanahan's side. He must provide a sound plan and the players must execute that plan.

Right now, there's a huge disconnect.

The Jets look utterly clueless at the start of games. Their first-half tape is an endless loop of three-and-outs, penalties and negative plays, and it's "crushing us," quarterback Zach Wilson said Sunday. In five games, the Jets (1-4) have scored 13 first-half points and none on opening drives. In 32 games under previous coach Adam Gase, the Jets actually scored 75 points on opening drives, 12th in the NFL over that span. These Jets haven't even scored points in the first quarter.

Blame the playcaller, right? It must be LaFleur's fault.

Well, yes and no.

While LaFleur has a tendency to be pass-happy early in games, putting too much pressure on Wilson, he can't be blamed for routine throws that fail to connect because of off-target throws or dropped passes. Look at Sunday's 27-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, specifically Wilson's first eight incompletions: Four were bad throws (including an interception), two were drops and two were throwaways. If the bad throws and drops went as complete passes, it could've been an entirely different game.

Is that LaFleur's fault? Of course not.

The Jets are experiencing acute growing pains, a symptom of having a rookie quarterback. Wilson can make spectacular, off-platform throws, but he struggles with the "boring" plays, to use one of Saleh's words. His completion rate on attempts of 10 yards or less is only 61%, 27th among qualified passers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Fellow rookie quarterback Mac Jones of the New England Patriots leads the league at 77% from that distance.

You can't blame the coach if a player misses layups.

Overall, Wilson's first-half numbers are terrible: Six interceptions and zero touchdown passes. That's one of the big reasons why the offense can't score. Because of his inexperience, it takes time to get into the rhythm of the game and get a feel for what he's seeing from the defense.

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In the first halves of games, Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson has six interceptions and zero touchdown passes. Elsa/Getty Images

Example: On Sunday, his interception came on a "bench" route to Keelan Cole, a ball thrown behind the wide receiver. Later, in the fourth quarter, Wilson hit Cole for 23 yards on the exact same route. A perfect throw.

Saleh said he will huddle with LaFleur during the bye week to discuss the bad starts, but he's not dissatisfied with the playcalling. He said a lot of Wilson's improvement will occur organically, through repetition, getting familiar with the speed and schemes of defenses.

"It's not easy being a rookie quarterback," Saleh said Monday. "If you look at -- I'll just throw a guy out there -- [Buffalo Bills quarterback] Josh Allen, who everyone wanted to throw away after his first two years. His first five games of his rookie year are damn near identical to what our young kid is going through. He's going to get better."

Saleh is fiercely loyal to LaFleur, whom he has known his entire adult life. When it was suggested maybe LaFleur's 15-play script to start games needs to be tweaked, Saleh looked in other directions.

"It's a collective thing," he said. "Sometimes the scripted call might not be worth a damn, sometimes the execution isn't there and sometimes it's a really good play by the other side of the ball."

A stronger commitment to the running game would help. In the first half, LaFleur has called more passes (71) than runs (54), although it's skewed in the other direction on first down -- 29 runs, 23 passes. A run-pass balance would ease the burden on Wilson and help the play-action game, which is supposed to be a staple of this offense.

Speaking of runs, where's the creativity? The jet sweeps? The misdirection? Those, too, are hallmarks of the Shanahan offense.

They also need to rethink the way they deploy their wide receivers. Talented rookie Elijah Moore, a non-factor, is playing out of position. He's a slot receiver, not an outside receiver. But if Moore plays the slot, what happens to Jamison Crowder? Denzel Mims should be on the field because of his vertical speed, but he gets a handful of snaps per game.

The lack of a pass-catching tight end is another issue; there's no threat in the middle of the field, which limits Wilson's options.

The Jets have some talent, especially at receiver, but they don't fit together particularly well. Throw in a rookie quarterback, and the problems are exacerbated. That's what you're seeing now -- a unit that can't get out of its own way in the first quarter. The players and coaches say it's not about preparation, but remember the old Mike Tyson line: "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

The Jets are spitting out teeth.

Let's not forget, this is LaFleur's first gig as an NFL coordinator. The last time he called plays was 2013 at Davidson College, an 0-11 season. There are easier ways to break into a job, considering the coaches he has faced: Dean Pees (Falcons), Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos) and Bill Belichick (Patriots). Those guys could comprise a Mensa society for defensive minds.

So, yeah, LaFleur is getting roughed up by better, more experienced coaches. He's learning on the job. So is Wilson. Not even the best scheme in the world has a fix for that.

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Good article. Why is it everybody sees this but Saleh. You’d think a rookie HC whose primarily a defensive ‘genius’ and knows nothing about the offensive side of the ball, would hire a seasoned OC/Asst HC to groom him as well. But NO. 

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imo lafleur is getting way too much blame.  unless he's telling wilson to look deep first then go to the bubble screens then most of the problems fall on wilson.  the wr's are getting open and are the right calls for the defense presented.  it's up to wilson to deliver the throw to the right place and on time.  wilson is missing too many easy throws.  this may be excused if he were being rushed but the oline actually played pretty well in pass protection against the falcons.  at least they were good enough so that wilson didn't have much pressure.

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3 hours ago, Fantasy Island said:

Salad and LaFloor are in over their heads.

To be fair I think every first time HC and coordinator is over their heads. Question is how quickly can they get their sh*t together?

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3 hours ago, Dunnie said:

Wilson needs to be better ... during warm ups he should be doing NOTHING but short passing game.

Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk
 

He hasn’t missed a single short pass in the first quarter 

It WR catch the dam ball we have more drives in the first quarter 

Case in point last week where crowder drops an easy one on 3rd and 2 and we don’t see the ball again for the entire quarter 

lastly it would be nice if the defense didn’t bleed out clock like crazy 

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21 minutes ago, rangerous said:

imo lafleur is getting way too much blame.  unless he's telling wilson to look deep first then go to the bubble screens then most of the problems fall on wilson.  the wr's are getting open and are the right calls for the defense presented.  it's up to wilson to deliver the throw to the right place and on time.  wilson is missing too many easy throws.  this may be excused if he were being rushed but the oline actually played pretty well in pass protection against the falcons.  at least they were good enough so that wilson didn't have much pressure.

No true in the context of the first quarter struggles. Wilson missed easy throws later in the game 

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Funny, there are handful of posters who think LaFleur needs to give Zach the easy stuff and stop forcing the run early.  I shared with them that LaFleur is doing that and provided examples, nobody responded, ofcourse but here is an article about that very topic with data.  Starting to think we provide content for these "writers", this is the 3rd time this has happened recently. 

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42 minutes ago, rangerous said:

imo lafleur is getting way too much blame.  unless he's telling wilson to look deep first then go to the bubble screens then most of the problems fall on wilson.  the wr's are getting open and are the right calls for the defense presented.  it's up to wilson to deliver the throw to the right place and on time.  wilson is missing too many easy throws.  this may be excused if he were being rushed but the oline actually played pretty well in pass protection against the falcons.  at least they were good enough so that wilson didn't have much pressure.

I think the real answer is that the problems are global. 

No running game, no Tight Ends, Corey Davis with 5 drops, bad offensive line (yeah yeah, the pass blocking was good for 1 game but still no run game)  AND Wilson being inconsistent. Not to mention a defense that forced only 1 punt the entire game against the Falcons, so when the offense went 3 and out they got to sit and for 30 minutes while the defense let up 3rd down conversion after 3rd down conversion. We could maybe give the struggling offense/QB good field position 1 time?

Yet for some reason, this forum wants to pile on Wilson as if he is a 7 year starter who should be elevating this team beyond their current limitations. 

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22 minutes ago, JiFapono said:

Funny, there are handful of posters who think LaFleur needs to give Zach the easy stuff and stop forcing the run early.  I shared with them that LaFleur is doing that and provided examples, nobody responded, ofcourse but here is an article about that very topic with data.  Starting to think we provide content for these "writers", this is the 3rd time this has happened recently. 

Well it goes both ways.

Quote

A stronger commitment to the running game would help. In the first half, LaFleur has called more passes (71) than runs (54), although it's skewed in the other direction on first down -- 29 runs, 23 passes. A run-pass balance would ease the burden on Wilson and help the play-action game, which is supposed to be a staple of this offense.

The big issue with the running game is that it's not working and this entire offense is predicated on running the ball and setting up play action.

LaFleur clearly tries to run the ball, especially on first down. We just haven't been successful, so of course he ends up passing. 30th in YPC, 3.6.

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6 minutes ago, UntouchableCrew said:

Well it goes both ways.

The big issue with the running game is that it's not working and this entire offense is predicated on running the ball and setting up play action.

LaFleur clearly tries to run the ball, especially on first down. We just haven't been successful, so of course he ends up passing. 30th in YPC, 3.6.

and that all relies on the O-line which can't pass block either.

Fix the line, the rest will follow.

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52 minutes ago, Pichula said:

No true in the context of the first quarter struggles. Wilson missed easy throws later in the game 

nah.  go watch the jet X film analysis. wilson missed a third down throw to davis on their first or second series.  they started the game with 2 3 and outs while atlanta was putting up 10 or 13 points.

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30 minutes ago, JoJoTownsell1 said:

I think the real answer is that the problems are global. 

No running game, no Tight Ends, Corey Davis with 5 drops, bad offensive line (yeah yeah, the pass blocking was good for 1 game but still no run game)  AND Wilson being inconsistent. Not to mention a defense that forced only 1 punt the entire game against the Falcons, so when the offense went 3 and out they got to sit and for 30 minutes while the defense let up 3rd down conversion after 3rd down conversion. We could maybe give the struggling offense/QB good field position 1 time?

Yet for some reason, this forum wants to pile on Wilson as if he is a 7 year starter who should be elevating this team beyond their current limitations. 

no doubt it's not just wilson.  that would be way too easy but he missed a few "easy" throws and they were due mainly to him either throwing too late or not be properly set.  and then there are other throws where he goes for longer passes when he really needs to be moving the chains.  i think it's all constructive criticism.  it's not like the bile against geno where it was pretty obvious he was a loser.

and you're right about the defense.  in the first quarter, the offense had two three and outs while atlanta was putting up points.  they never did close up the middle of the field.

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12 minutes ago, rangerous said:

nah.  go watch the jet X film analysis. wilson missed a third down throw to davis on their first or second series.  they started the game with 2 3 and outs while atlanta was putting up 10 or 13 points.

Second series didn’t happen until 30 seconds left in the first quarter. I’ve watched the game like 5 times 

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33 minutes ago, rangerous said:

no doubt it's not just wilson.  that would be way too easy but he missed a few "easy" throws and they were due mainly to him either throwing too late or not be properly set.  and then there are other throws where he goes for longer passes when he really needs to be moving the chains.  i think it's all constructive criticism.  it's not like the bile against geno where it was pretty obvious he was a loser.

and you're right about the defense.  in the first quarter, the offense had two three and outs while atlanta was putting up points.  they never did close up the middle of the field.

He's missed a bunch of easy throws. No one is here suggesting that Wilson has played well. He has played like a rookie that gets zero help from his oline, running game, TEs or defense and his #1 WR has 5 drops.  

If you want to win with a rookie QB, you usually need other aspects of the game to step up. Not only are they not stepping up, they are playing poorly (outside of marginal improvement in pass protection last game). 

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1 hour ago, JiFapono said:

Funny, there are handful of posters who think LaFleur needs to give Zach the easy stuff and stop forcing the run early.  I shared with them that LaFleur is doing that and provided examples, nobody responded, ofcourse but here is an article about that very topic with data.  Starting to think we provide content for these "writers", this is the 3rd time this has happened recently. 

It is 29 run and 23 pass on first down in 1st half. It says it right there in the article. That is a bad ratio. Running on first down most of the time leads to too many obvious passing situations. The premise of LaFleur throwing too much is wrong because even at 71 passed and 54 runs if you getting stuffed on lots of first down runs basically every 3rd down will be a pass, probably 80% of them. You need balance on first down and 29 to 23 is NOT it. Bill Polian has stated many times that balance on first down is 55% to 60% pass, which would mean we should be around 30 pass and 22 run. Regardless of your example from last Sunday the reality is that LaFleur is not passing enough on FIRST down. Running 60% of the time on first down against a stacked box with a rookie QB is a complete recipe for failure. Teams with elite QBs can do that because their reputation alone will prevent stacking the box.

Article is dumb and shows a lack of understanding today's game of football.

 

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12 minutes ago, johnnysd said:

It is 29 run and 23 pass on first down in 1st half. It says it right there in the article. That is a bad ratio. Running on first down most of the time leads to too many obvious passing situations. The premise of LaFleur throwing too much is wrong because even at 71 passed and 54 runs if you getting stuffed on lots of first down runs basically every 3rd down will be a pass, probably 80% of them. You need balance on first down and 29 to 23 is NOT it. Bill Polian has stated many times that balance on first down is 55% to 60% pass, which would mean we should be around 30 pass and 22 run. Regardless of your example from last Sunday the reality is that LaFleur is not passing enough on FIRST down. Running 60% of the time on first down against a stacked box with a rookie QB is a complete recipe for failure. Teams with elite QBs can do that because their reputation alone will prevent stacking the box.

Article is dumb and shows a lack of understanding today's game of football.

 

I'm shocked we've actually had 52 first down plays in the first half. 

 

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4 hours ago, johnnysd said:

It is 29 run and 23 pass on first down in 1st half. It says it right there in the article. That is a bad ratio. Running on first down most of the time leads to too many obvious passing situations. The premise of LaFleur throwing too much is wrong because even at 71 passed and 54 runs if you getting stuffed on lots of first down runs basically every 3rd down will be a pass, probably 80% of them. You need balance on first down and 29 to 23 is NOT it. Bill Polian has stated many times that balance on first down is 55% to 60% pass, which would mean we should be around 30 pass and 22 run. Regardless of your example from last Sunday the reality is that LaFleur is not passing enough on FIRST down. Running 60% of the time on first down against a stacked box with a rookie QB is a complete recipe for failure. Teams with elite QBs can do that because their reputation alone will prevent stacking the box.

Article is dumb and shows a lack of understanding today's game of football.

 

The first half isnt what you were talking about when you claimed they're forcing the run early.  I literally provided the opening drive play calls which heavily favored pass even on first down.  Naturally, you didnt even respond because it proved you wrong but now you think you can spin this to fit your narrative because the first half stats say run more on 1st than throw?  Horse sh*t.  It's a bad play call if that 1st down nets 5 yards?  That's what happened vs. the Falcons and they still went 3 and out.  He's throwing early, and calling easy routes, something you said he didnt.  I literally gave you a play by play to prove, he's throwing way more but now the goal post moves? 

ridiculous. He's going back to the run because his early pass calls, arent working.

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7 hours ago, JiFapono said:

Funny, there are handful of posters who think LaFleur needs to give Zach the easy stuff and stop forcing the run early.  I shared with them that LaFleur is doing that and provided examples, nobody responded, ofcourse but here is an article about that very topic with data.  Starting to think we provide content for these "writers", this is the 3rd time this has happened recently. 

It absolutely happens. These guys are lazy af.

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