FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Nathaniel Hackett has spent the past several weeks trying to solve the New York Jets' biggest problem.
The search for an answer continues.
The Jets still can't get into the end zone — a touchdown drought that spans 36 offensive possessions and 11 quarters and an overtime period. And it's costing New York potential victories.
“I think that you have to identify all the different things that you want to correct and you have to kind of prioritize and then you just got to attack each one individually,” said Hackett, the Jets' embattled offensive coordinator. “There are moments that we really like, but it's just not good enough, it's not up to our standard overall and we just have to keep grinding.”
Part of that problem-solving process included a players-only meeting by the offense. Wide receiver Garrett Wilson and quarterback Zach Wilson both said it was a chance for the players to kick around ideas, vent and try to figure things out.
“I love it,” Hackett said. "I mean, the whole idea is for those guys to come together. When they cross those lines, the coaches aren’t out there anymore. We work the entire week to try to get them prepared as we possibly can. We can talk and talk and detail up and detail up, but if they don’t absorb it and they don’t feel it together as one group, then it doesn’t matter what you call, it doesn’t matter what you do.
“So, I think that for them to bond to come together and understand that if we get these things fixed that we will have an opportunity to move the ball and score some more points.”
That has been mostly a futile task this season.
New York enters its game Sunday against AFC East-rival Buffalo having scored just eight touchdowns on offense in nine games. The last came on a short pass from Zach Wilson to running back Breece Hall, who turned it into a 50-yard score.
Wilson almost had one last Sunday in New York's 16-12 loss at Las Vegas when he reached over the goal line, but stepped out out bounds at the 3. Hall appeared to run it in on the next play, but it was negated by a holding penalty. The Jets, as they have so often this season, settled for a field goal.
“I haven’t had it like this before, when it has been this low amount,” Hackett said. “But yes, there has been some droughts at times and I think it's about staying consistent for us as coaches and making sure we have a foundation and we believe in that foundation.”
The Jets rank 30th in the NFL while averaging 16 points a game, with only New England (14.1) and the Giants (11.8) worse.
“I don’t know what you want me to say. I’m tired of this,” Garrett Wilson said after the loss in Las Vegas. “I want to play better, the offense wants to play better. ... We talk about that every week, trying to come out every week and make it happen.
A glut of penalties has been one culprit, negating big plays or causing New York's offense to start drives in first- and second-and-long situations. That has contributed to the Jets' failures on third down, where they rank last in the NFL in conversion percentage. Same for the red zone, where they just can't punch the ball into the end zone — or, as Hackett has referred to it, the "gold zone."
Outside the facility, there's plenty of finger pointing, with Hackett, Zach Wilson and coach Robert Saleh shouldering much of the blame. There have been calls by frustrated fans and critical media insisting the Jets need to make a change at quarterback — even if Wilson isn't the sole reason for the struggles.
The problem, those fans and media say, is that Wilson also isn't doing enough to change the fortunes of the offense.
“It’s not one person,” Hackett said. "We have talked about that for quite a while. I mean, Zach had some amazing plays last game, keeping us alive. I think he had two 20-yard runs on third down, thought it was a touchdown at one point. We were this close to that not being a touchdown.
“It has been a lot of guys. I wish it was just one thing, then you feel like that is easily correctable. But I think for us as a group, it's about staying together and pushing through this together."
NOTES: OL Billy Turner (finger) and LBs Chazz Surratt (ankle) and LB Sam Eguavoen (hip) sat out a second straight day. ... Garrett Wilson (elbow), LT Mekhi Becton (knee) and DL Will McDonald (ankle) were limited again.
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