Bob Wischusen has been the radio play-by-play voice of the New York Jets for 18 years. Beginning this week and lasting all season, Bob will share thoughts pertaining to the Green & White in a weekly column - "Wischusen's Point of View".
1. Sam Darnold's Ball Security
There is no statistic in all of sports, not just football, that more directly relates to winning or losing games, than the giveaway-takeaway ratio where turnovers are concerned. If you take the ball away in the NFL you have a great chance to win. If you give the ball away in the NFL, you are most likely going to lose. It is hard to put turnovers all on one player. Turnovers sometimes can happen because the defense makes a great play, sometimes you're just unlucky. But often if a team turns the ball over it has to do with the decision-making of the quarterback, after all he has the ball in his hands on every single play. So the fact that pass protection has gotten better, and Sam Darnold has not been under stress in the pocket with the ball potentially being knocked away as often. That has certainly helped, but his decision-making has exponentially improved over the last month. The fact that he is taking much better care of the ball is giving the Jets so much of a better chance to win. Every coach will say, you want to end every possession with a kick, whether it be an extra point, a field goal or a punt, and getting a young quarterback to understand that punting is okay, it's not a problem, it's not a sign of failure. Sometimes just getting a few first downs and flipping field position can change the entire momentum of a game and you have seen Darnold's decision-making improve tremendously over the past several games, and that has a lot to do with why they are winning. No turnovers. It's no accident. It can equal wins.
2. Playing Complementary Football
You will often hear coaches use the phrase complementary football, and while it seems like a coaching cliché, there's no question that coaches will look at whether their team is playing in all three phrases well and how each phase compliments each other. Football really is a domino effect game. It's not just coach speak. It's absolutely a key to winning and often a cause for losing. If you go back to the start of the season when the Jets were dead last in the NFL in their own starting field position and opponent’s starting field position, it was because they weren't playing complementary football. Their offense would start after a touchback at their own 25-yard line, not move the ball, maybe go backwards. Now look at how they're playing. The offense is moving the ball, getting first downs, even on drives that don't produce points. This helps special teams flip field position and gives your defense a chance to go out and have the long field facing the opposition to help them get a stop, giving them multiple opportunities to shut down an opponent’s drive. So, playing well in all three phases of the game is not just coach speak, it absolutely is what coaches will look at to determine what is causing their team to win or lose games.
3. What Gregg Williams Has Done for the Defense
It is hard to imagine that there is an assistant coach that has done a better job this season anywhere in the NFL than Gregg Williams has done with the Jets defense. Think about the injuries and think about the players that are now missing from his lineup back in August. He has lost both of his starting cornerbacks. He has lost both of his inside linebackers. He has lost his most highly drafted defensive tackle and yet time, after time, after time, he has found a way to use the next man up philosophy to send a defense out on the field that has now produced the No. 1 rush defense in the NFL and has kept the Jets in games over, and over, and over again. Football is a game of casualties. There must be by necessity a next man up philosophy, but that doesn't mean it is easy to do. It doesn't mean it's easy to look down your bench, constantly find answers and expect backup players who have not gotten many reps in practice, to go into games and quickly grasp a very difficult defensive philosophy and scheme, and yet player, after player, after player, has been inserted into the lineup this year for the Jets with very few mental breakdowns, blown coverages, and they are tackling about as well as any team in the NFL, not to mention that they've got Jamal Adams who has become a wreck the game player as a superstar at the heart of it all. So the Jets, while personnel suggests they have no right to be a very complete defense, have become a very complete defense and it is do to the star power and leadership of Adams and it is also due to the ability of Williams to constantly form a lineup and find answers.