NFL

Morning sports update: NFL experts debated if Jets’ ‘dumbest call ever’ was intentional

"It's just stupid. Just absolutely stupid."

Jets loss Raiders
Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs III catches the game-winning touchdown against the still-winless Jets. AP Photo/Adam Hunger

On Sunday, the Patriots defeated the Chargers 45-0, improving to 6-6 on the season and keeping playoff hopes alive. Gunner Olszewski returned a punt for a touchdown, and also caught a 38-yard pass for another score.

And in Columbus, the Revolution lost the MLS Eastern Conference Final to the Crew, 1-0. After a magical playoff run that included multiple upsets, Bruce Arena’s team now looks to the future.

Media reactions to the Jets: The 2020 Jets have been the exact disaster they were predicted to be in preseason. In fact, New York has been considerably worse than most projections, sitting winless at 0-12.

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The latest loss had many experts scratching their heads, and even had some asking if New York — looking beyond the season to the 2021 draft — might have had ulterior motives for a questionable late-game defensive call.

With time running out in the fourth quarter and the Jets actually leading the Raiders on Sunday, 28-24, all New York had to do was prevent Las Vegas from scoring a touchdown. But instead of playing a prevent defense, Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams opted to bring maximum pressure and called an all-out blitz.

The decision proved fatal for New York’s chances to win the game, as Raiders quarterback Derek Carr evaded the Jets rushers and found wide receiver Henry Ruggs III for a 46-yard touchdown with five seconds remaining.

New York lost in the end, 31-28.

“I have a headache thinking about this…the fact that Gregg Williams would play that coverage in that situation?” asked former Jets quarterback and CBS commentator Boomer Esiason after the game. “It’s almost like the Jets drew that up to lose the game.”

Esiason wasn’t the only one who insinuated that the Jets may have intentionally tried to lose.

“It seemed like they were trying to lose to get the number one (draft) pick,” noted former safety and NBC analyst Rodney Harrison later on Sunday.

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On Monday, the criticism of Williams grew even more intense.

“Dumbest call I’ve ever seen,” said former Jets coach (and ESPN contributor) Rex Ryan on the network’s “Get Up!” morning show. “Been around [football] for 58 years, 38 years as a coach. That’s the dumbest call ever. There’s no other way of putting it.

“Cover zero, there is a time and a place for cover zero,” added Ryan, who was once a defensive coordinator himself. “That dang sure ain’t it. It’s just stupid. Just absolutely stupid.”

Still, not everyone thought it was an intentional decision by the Jets to “tank the play,” and lose the game in order to help secure the No. 1 overall draft pick.

“No, the Jets did not tank that play,” said Ryan’s ESPN colleague, Dan Orlovsky. “This is ignorance over malice. This is what happens when you have an ego. This is what Gregg Williams does. I’ve seen this time and time again with Gregg Williams. He does not care about the situation.”

Orlovsky, a former quarterback, recalled an anecdote to illustrate his point regarding Williams.

“In 2011, I was playing for the Colts, we were down playing the Saints. We were down 49-0,” Orlovsky explained. “49-0! It’s the last play of the game. It’s 3rd and 20. He zero-blitzed me. That’s just what the guy does.

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“He does not care,” Orlovsky added. “So everyone saying this was on purpose, this would be my push-back: On purpose would be something random, right? Something that stood out that had not been seen before. This was part of their plan. It always has been, it always will be with Gregg Williams. Stupid play call, but it’s not tanking.”

With the loss, the Jets remain one game ahead of the Jaguars in the current projection for the top pick in 2021.

Update: Shortly after 11 a.m. on Monday, a report emerged that the Jets had fired Williams.

Trivia: As Patriots reporters noted on Sunday, Gunner Olszewski joined some elite company in team history by scoring on a punt return and a pass reception. What three other Patriots have also done that?

(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: One is still on the team, and the other two played for the 1985 Patriots.

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On this day: In 1939, the Red Sox signed a “very promising recruit” from the San Diego Padres, then playing in the Pacific Coast League. He was 19 years old, and his name was Ted Williams. Boston paid a fee of $35,000 and also sent Dom Dallessandro and Al Niemiec to San Diego in the deal.

Williams was described by Boston Globe writer Hy Hurwitz as a “string-bean 19-year-old outfielder,” and it was assumed he would travel with the team to spring training, but would likely see time in the minor leagues.

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Instead, he quickly established himself as one of the most formidable hitters in baseball, batting .327 with 31 home runs and a league-leading total of 145 RBIs in his rookie season with the Red Sox. A Hall of Fame career had begun, thanks to some fortuitous scouting.

Ted Williams signs Red SoxDaily highlight: Heung-Min Son put Tottenham ahead against Arsenal in the London derby on Sunday with a precisely curled goal. Son assisted on the second goal, as Tottenham won 2-0.

Trivia answer: Julian Edelman, Stanley Morgan, and Irving Fryar.

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