Marcus Maye criticizes disastrous Jets play-call: ‘Gotta help us out’
There has been speculation through the years about what the extra “G” in Gregg Williams stands for. On Sunday, it was for “gag,” as in gagging away a victory.
The Jets defense coordinator made the inexplicable, inexcusable decision to call an all-out blitz with his team leading by four points and 13 seconds left to play with the Raiders facing a third-and-10 on the Jets’ 46-yard line. The “zero blitz” call meant there was no safety help for the cornerbacks. Williams blitzed eight players, leaving three defensive backs one-on-one with receivers.
The call burned the Jets as Raiders speedy rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs put a double-move on cornerback Lamar Jackson, an undrafted rookie, and quarterback Derek Carr connected with him for a 46-yard touchdown with five seconds left on the clock.
The 31-28 defeat for the Jets will make the “Tank for Trevor” crowd happy, but left the Jets players and coaches devastated.
“Obviously, everybody is disappointed,” Jets coach Adam Gase said. “To lose a game like that, our guys work way too hard to go through this [s–t].”
Veteran safety Marcus Maye, who never says anything remotely controversial, criticized the play-call by Williams.
“That situation, just has to be a better call,” Maye said. “We gotta execute, but you gotta help us out at the same time.”
The Jets are now 0-12 for the first time in franchise history and the 12-game losing streak matches the longest ever for the Jets, which they also did in 1995-96. They remain on track to get the No. 1 pick in the draft and Clemson star Trevor Lawrence, but the current Jets do not care about that.
It felt like the Jets had this one won. They took a 28-24 lead with 5:34 left on a 1-yard touchdown by Ty Johnson that followed a Ruggs fumble. The defense then came up with a fourth-down stop as Carr’s pass to Nelson Agholor fell incomplete in the end zone with 1:37 left to play.
But the Jets went three-and-out and the Raiders used two timeouts. They got the ball back with 35 seconds left at their own 39. On first down, Carr found tight end Darren Waller for a 15-yard gain. Waller owned the Jets all day, finishing with 13 catches for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Carr spiked the ball to stop the clock. He then missed a wide-open Agholor deep on second down. That set up the third-and-10 from the 46 and Williams’ head-scratching call.
“I couldn’t believe they all-out blitzed us,” Carr said. “As soon as I saw it, I was thankful.”
The Jets are the only team to send eight or more pass rushers on a play in the last 30 seconds of a game this season, according to Next Gen Stats.
Williams did not speak to the media after the game. Assistant coaches are usually not available. That left others trying to explain the call.
“We were trying to create pressure,” Gase said. “[Carr] hadn’t done well with it all game. That’s what happened. We had a couple of free runners, but we didn’t get there.”
Maye, a team captain, was the most critical of Williams, saying repeatedly they should have been put in a better call.
“We fought hard to put ourselves in the position to win,” Maye said. “That’s the point in the game we’ve just got to be in a better call.”
Jackson, an undrafted rookie from Nebraska, showed accountability by meeting with reporters on a Zoom call.
“All I could think was, ‘Not me. I don’t want to be the reason.’ But I was,” Jackson said. “I’ve got to live with it. I’ve got to get better.”
The loss was heartbreaking for a Jets team that has not had many close games this year. They jumped out to leads of 7-0 and 13-7 in the first half, but three turnovers by Sam Darnold in the second quarter opened the door for the Raiders, and Las Vegas took a 17-13 lead into halftime. A 2-yard touchdown run by Carr in the third quarter stretched the lead to 24-13 and the Jets looked like they were well on their way to another loss.
They came back to life with a nine-play, 96-yard drive that stretched over the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth. They rode the legs of backup running backs Ty Johnson and Josh Adams, who were in the game in place of Frank Gore, who suffered a concussion on the second play of the game. The Jets ran for 206 yards and Johnson gained 102 yards, the first Jet to hit the 100-yard mark in two years.
Darnold ran the ball for a touchdown from the 4 and the Jets got a two-point conversion to make it 24-21.
Jets rookie cornerback Javelin Guidry then forced Ruggs to fumble and Maye recovered to give the Jets the ball at the Vegas 44 with 8:45 to play. Six plays later, Johnson scored from the 1 to put the Jets ahead 28-24 with 5:34 remaining.
The Jets stopped the Raiders after allowing them to drive to their 9 on a series aided by Jets penalties on a third down and a fourth down. But the Jets stopped Carr on fourth down and began celebrating, but it was premature.
“We should have won,” Darnold said. “We’ve had a few games this year where we haven’t had a chance and so to be able to have a game like that that you should have won at the end, those ones definitely hurt more than any.”