Outside of Week 4, the New York Jets offense has been pitiful in 2021, and it’s been especially poor in the first half of games.
Some may blame this on rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, the offensive line and lack of run game, or crucial wide receiver drops, but a majority of fans agree that offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur should share a large portion of the blame.
The playcalling has been shaky and it feels like the Jets OC isn’t properly utilizing the strengths of his top assets like Elijah Moore or Wilson. Then there’s 2020 second-round pick Denzel Mims, who’s barely touched the field.
LaFleur’s west coast scheme was supposed to reinvigorate this offense. Instead, it’s stopped it in its tracks with rigid play design and complex terminology. One Jets starter is still backing his play-caller though.
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Connor McGovern Stands up for LaFleur, Saleh
Although a small contingent of fans has head coach Robert Saleh on the hot seat already, the only person really feeling the pressure right now is LaFleur. The players all love Saleh and besides, Joe Douglas hired him for the long haul and his defense and special teams have been well-run for the most part.
Even so, center Connor McGovern spoke up in support of both his HC and his OC on October 12.
He stated: “This coaching staff’s been all hands on deck. In their mind it’s not going to be just them, in our mind it’s not going to be just them or us. Everybody here — coaches, players — everybody realizes that it takes all of us to win football games and to change this around. I have full confidence in this team and these coaches to do that. Saleh is one of the best head coaches I’ve ever been around and LaFleur has been one of the best offensive coordinators, going into every week I feel like we have such a great plan and that’s really kudos to him and how [he and John Benton] prepare us going into each game. We just need to, as players, execute a little better in the first half.”
McGovern added that the solution will come from “little changes,” not “drastic” ones.
The obvious response is, great game plan? Seriously? The Jets have been outscored 75-23 in the first half and you want to credit LaFleur for having you prepared for kick-off?
That couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, the scripted game plan has been atrocious. Carolina Panthers DC Phil Snow was ready for it Week 1, Bill Belichick was ready Week 2, Vic Fangio in Week 3 and even Atlanta Falcons D-coordinator Dean Pees in Week 5. They all outsmarted LaFleur, and it didn’t seem that hard.
Even Adam Gase was better at scripting drives, as the Green & White generally scored some sort of points during their first possession under the ex-head coach. He was just terrible at making adjustments and this is where I’ll give LaFleur some props, he’s been able to make adjustments in the second half. That usually just involves fewer run plays and more of Wilson cutting the ball loose downfield, but it’s something.
The bye week will be crucial for a Jets offense that desperately needs a reboot. With Wilson heading home for a few days and Moore quoting song lyrics about “stepping away,” you just hope that the chemistry can get there before Week 7.
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LaFleur Does Listen
One thing I did enjoy hearing from McGovern was LaFleur’s ability to listen and change. Gase’s biggest problem wasn’t that he stunk at coaching, it was that he stunk and he was too arrogant to admit it.
“LaFleur does take into [account] like if one of us has a good feeling about a play or if we think we can take advantage of something out there, he definitely listens to us and takes on any feedback from us very well. It’s fun to play for a guy like that [who] wants to work with you and do whatever it is [to help make you successful],” the Jets center voiced.
This agrees with the OC’s sentiment about fitting his system to the players, so how come we haven’t seen it on the field? To quote the hit show Game of Thrones, “words are wind.” Jets fans actually want to see this stuff occur in games.
Another positive was McGovern’s thoughts on his rookie quarterback. “Everybody believes in him,” the O-lineman began, “when you see the throws he makes and the plays he is able to make, you know that he has the makings [of] a really special quarterback. The way he can see a defense, the way he handles checks and cans, and the more complicated pre-snap stuff, is phenomenal.”
He also noted that Wilson “won’t let anything affect his confidence,” adding that the BYU product is “a guy who’s going to be around a long time making spectacular plays.”