When Gregg Williams next meets with his players, he should stand before them and apologize for depriving them of their first victory of 2020.
Then he should resign.
Because no one associated with the Jets was more responsible for their gut-wrenching 31-28 loss to the Raiders in the final seconds Sunday at MetLife Stadium than their defensive coordinator.
Not Lamar Jackson, the Jets 22-year-old undrafted rookie cornerback who gave up the game-winning 46-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Henry Ruggs III with five seconds remaining.
Not quarterback Sam Darnold, who turned the ball over three times on two fumbles and an interception.
Not even head coach Adam Gase, New York sports’ favorite punching bag.
This loss falls directly at the feet of Williams, the often-controversial coach who’s built a career reputation for his aggressive, sometimes reckless, style.
Williams’ players should put a bounty out on him for the coaching malpractice.
The defensive call Williams sent into his players with the Raiders trailing 28-24, facing a third-and-10 from the Jets 46-yard line with 13 seconds remaining and no timeouts was nothing short of criminal: All-out blitz and “zero’’ coverage, which means no safety help for the cornerbacks.
Particularly when one of his cornerbacks is an undrafted rookie covering a first-round draft pick with 4.27 speed in the 40-yard dash.
“I could not believe they all-out blitzed us,’’ Carr said. “When I saw that, I was thankful.’’
The Coaching 101 handbook in that scenario calls for the defense to protect the end zone, to not let any receivers get behind the defense. That means playing a softer, “prevent’’ defensive scheme with extra help deep, not a risky all-out blitz, leaving the cornerbacks alone on islands.
One of the very first tenets in coaching is this: Put your players in the best position to succeed.
Williams put Lamar Jackson in a position to fail. Shame on him.
Good for Jets safety Marcus Maye, who in a postgame Zoom interview chastised Williams for the call he sent in.
“I just thought we could have been in a better call in that situation,’’ Maye said. “It’s a tough situation for our young guys. I just feel bad for them, being out there on an island. We fought hard to put ourselves in position to win, and at that part of the game you’ve just got be in a better call.’’
Good for Jackson for taking full responsibility after the game.
“Zero coverage, I got my man, I knew the situation, I knew they were going to be taking a shot at the end zone,’’ Jackson said. “I know what not to do next time.’’
The defensive call?
“That’s something that’s above my head,’’ Jackson said. “I’m a rookie. I ain’t got no leverage. I ain’t got no seniority to debate a call. I’ve just got to do my job. The call was the call, the play was the play. It sucks because we had just come off a big stop on defense [the previous series] and we could almost taste the win.
“It’s a walk-off touchdown on me. I got beat. Touchdown. Game.’’
Jackson said he “wasn’t looking for help, but I definitely was probably hoping it wasn’t on me. All I was thinking was, ‘Not me; I don’t want be the reason.’ But I was. I’ve got to live with it.’’
Williams, by NFL rule, is required to speak to reporters once a week. He speaks on Fridays. Jets assistant coaches aren’t available after games. Williams should have taken it upon himself to make an exception Sunday, following the lead of his accountable players and explained himself.
When Gase was asked about that Williams call, he looked like he was biting his tongue so hard he was about to draw blood.
“Just trying to create pressure,’’ Gase said wanly.
Asked if he’d spoken to his defensive coordinator, Gase said, “I just talked to him. He explained his thought process.’’
There’s nothing Williams could have told Gase to justify his irresponsible call.
“We should have won … it’s hard to fathom losing a game like that,’’ Darnold said.
“Our guys work way too hard to go through this [s–t],’’ Gase said, spitting out his words. “They deserve better than going through that. These guys put the work in all year. They give us everything they have.’’
And on this day, Williams took it all away with one inexplicable, selfish defensive call.