By Lenn Robbins
The question that Jets CEO and chairman Christopher Johnson, and only Johnson can answer is this: What’s worse: Firing a coach in mid-season or enduring the cartoon the New York Jets have become?
It’s understandable why Johnson doesn’t want to part ways with coach Adam Gates. Most of us, especially the very wealthy, don’t like to admit they were wrong. It was just a few months ago that Johnson described Gates as an offensive genius.
After their 24-0 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, the Jets are last in the league in scoring (75 points), 25 points less than the Denver Broncos, who have played one less game. The 1991 Colts hold the record for fewest points scored in a 16-game season a (143) or 8.9 per game. The Jets are at 12.5 and falling.
Note to already traumatized Jets fans: The Colts went 1-15 that season. Their only win came over the Jets. But we digress.
Should Johnson make a change it will make for a brutal 7-10 day stretch. All NFL eyes will be focused on the Jets. It’s the car crash you can’t turn away from.
But once such a decision is made, the scrutiny fades and other storylines jump to the forefront: Was Tom Brady, now 4-2 with the Bucs, more important to New England’s dynasty than coach Bill Belichick, whose team is under .500 (2-3) after five games for the first time since 2002?
Johnson thus far has decided that continuing the Jets’ cartoon strip of a season is not as bad as a fortnight of back page headlines. It’s is truly a vexing decision.
The Jets, you see, don’t merely lose. They’ve become the Wile E. Coyote of cartoons, constantly blowing themselves up, or doing a cannonball fall off a cliff.
This last week has been an especially bad one for Wile E. Jets. The team that introduced the “Buttfumble” to the NFL now has given us “Buttpick,” the interception off a defensive back’s rear end.
That should have been enough entertainment for one week but Gase had to respond to defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ mid-week sniping. Williams, whose team had given up 32.2 points per game before Sunday’s 24-point loss, said “a lot of it is not all defensively.” When asked what he was referring to, Williams said, “Yeah, you’ll have to figure that out.”
Gase, per CBS’s broadcast on Sunday responded.
“That’s not what we need,” Gase said. “No one is pointing fingers. We all need to pull in the same direction.
“Everyone needs to shut up and play.”
That kind of public discord is like a building collapse. People come from near and far to get a look at the rubble. It’s not a good view. As long as Gase and Williams walk the same sideline, the cameras and reporters will harp on the body language of both coaches and any verbal exchange between the two will be dissected and analyzed.
We know communication is not Gase’s strength and Williams likes to express himself by taking out bounties on opposing players. Think of what a few quick-witted reporters and snarky headline writers can do with that storyline!
“Williams Communicates His Displeasure by Putting a bounty on Gates.”
Those of us of a certain age can recall the 1982 Tylenol catastrophe that threatened to doom Johnson & Johnson. Eight people in the Chicago area died after ingesting cyanide-laced Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules, the company’s highest selling product, accounting for 17-percent of sales.
Johnson & Johnson introduced the concept of the recall, issuing the first action of its kind. It introduced us to tamper-proof packaging. Two months after the deaths Tylenol’s market shared plunged to 7-percent, but rebounded to 37-percent. The Johnson & Johnson company became a case study in how to successfully handle a nightmare.
Christopher Johnson, 61, the great grandson of Johnson & Johnson founder Robert Wood Johnson, would have been about 33 at the time, certainly is old enough remember how decisive and prudent the company was. It could serve him well now but not if he continues to watch cartoons.
He should an issue a recall on Gase. Choose an interim coach not named Williams, who should be told to shut and coach if he wants to continue to be employed this season. He might even consider a Rangersesque letter to fans explaining what the rebuild will encompass and how it will be executed.
The “Letter” would likely find its way to the back pages. Fine. Jets fans will see it as a love letter.
Most owners aren’t as fortunate as Christopher Johnson. His forbearers have given him the blueprint to a way out.