Jets head coach Todd Bowles said in a conference call with reporters yesterday that there would be no changes to his staff “at this time”, but went on to say the team would evaluate themselves during the bye week. What changes or adjustments could we see? Here are a few that would make sense.
Todd Bowles, on conference call with reporters, said he hasn’t spoken to Christopher Johnson yet. Bowles left open the possibility of making staff changes. He said everything will be evaluated this week — players and coaches. #Jets
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) November 12, 2018
Improve the Pass Protection:
Through the first 8 weeks of the season, Sam Darnold was being sacked just twice per game and the team’s offensive line ranked 18th in the NFL in pass blocking efficiency according to Pro Football Focus. The offensive line’s pass blocking has been far from great, but it was much better than many anticipated. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen two of their worst performances of the season. Bowles should look to incorporate some of the rollouts that the Jets bailed on after the season’s first few weeks and look to see fewer empty backfield sets. Also, if your center is firing shotgun snaps in to the third row of the upper deck, you sit him until he’s healthy.
Take more shots down the field:
This off-season, Bowles fired offensive coordinator John Morton who, before Josh McCown was injured, had Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse on pace to combine for over 2,000 receiving yards last season. Under Jeremy Bates, Jets fans are sometimes left wondering if Anderson and Kearse are still on the roster despite an upgraded unit with the return of Quincy Enunwa and the drafting of tight end Chris Herndon. When you bring in a new coach to work his magic, you’re probably not thinking about it in terms of making two of your most productive players disappear, but that’s exactly what Bates has done. If you can’t score points and you have one of the best deep threats in the NFL in Anderson, you take multiple shots down the field to give him a chance to make a play. If Anderson can get going, it opens things up for everyone else.
Extended Audition for Elijah McGuire:
There hasn’t been much for Jets fans to be optimistic about on offense over the past couple of weeks, but second-year running back Elijah McGuire has looked solid in limited action as both a runner and a receiver. This team is in dire need of a player who can make things happen in multiple roles and McGuire is one of the few options at their disposal. Remember how much better the Jets offense was in Todd Bowles’ first season when Bilal Powell saw an increased role in the passing game? The Jets should look to replicate that with McGuire who has averaged 4.4 yards per rush on 12 attempts to go along with 64 yards on six receptions.
Keep getting beat? Go take a seat:
It’s never easy for a head coach to bench a veteran with a hefty salary, but Bowles will be scratching and clawing to get some wins any way he can. With that being the case, he can’t afford to keep playing Trumaine Johnson at cornerback if he doesn’t show some significant improvement in a hurry. Should he continue to struggle, Johnson becomes the team’s new “albatross” contract with Muhammad Wilkerson no longer in the picture. Along with Johnson, Morris Claiborne has been bad enough lately that perhaps a look at Rashard Robinson and/or Derrick Jones as the season winds down would be a good idea, especially with Claiborne being on just a one-year deal.
While we’re on the topic of cornerbacks who could be benched to develop some younger players, we may as well include Buster Skrine to get a longer look at rookie corner Parry Nickerson.
Build Chemistry Between Darnold and Herndon:
Through the first five games of his rookie season, tight end Chris Herndon had just 5 receptions for 47 yards without a touchdown. In the five games since then, he has registered 14 catches for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Increasing Herndon’s targets resulted in far greater production, so as the Jets appear to be stuck in the mud while moving the ball, the season’s final six games should include a heavy dose of Herndon as he and Darnold continue to build an on-field chemistry that could benefit Gang Green for years to come.