New York Jets' historically bad offense raises heat on rookie coordinator

The Jets offense hasn't scored a point in the first quarter under first-time NFL coordinator Mike LaFleur. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. Mike drop? Say this for offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur: The man doesn't pass the buck. He always takes accountability for the offensive struggles, which is admirable, but there could come a point where that's not good enough.

If there's no improvement, it could put coach Robert Saleh in an uncomfortable spot. He doesn't want to change coordinators -- the two are close friends, and he has great respect for LaFleur -- but the public pressure, and perhaps pressure from within the organization, would create intense scrutiny if this continues to the end of the season.

The Jets aren't just bad, they're historically bad.

If they don't score a first-quarter point Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals (1 p.m. ET, CBS), they will become the first team since the 1991 Green Bay Packers to go scoreless in its first seven opening quarters of the season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only five teams since the 1970 merger have done it, including the Packers.

Chew on this:

The Jets are averaging 3.3 points and 87.5 total yards in first halves, both of which are dead last in the league since 2000, when ESPN started tracking data. Let's put it another way: Ranking all the teams over those 22 seasons, the Jets are 702nd out of 702 in both categories.

Their full-game stats aren't much better. You can use the rookie-quarterback factor as a reason, but let's be real: A bunch of those 702 teams played with rookies less talented than Zach Wilson.

LaFleur gets criticized for his playcalling, but that's not the main issue. It's about teaching and messaging, giving the players a plan that can be executed. Week after week, they make basic communication and technique errors.

"I’m always looking internally and I’m challenging our position coaches to do the same," LaFleur said. "What is not getting across?"

LaFleur is confident they will get it turned around, and that the Jets will be "a tough offense to stop" by the end of the year. If not, his boss will be under pressure.

2. Sideline classroom: Wilson (sprained knee) might not appreciate it now, but he will definitely benefit from watching for a few weeks. This will afford him a chance to see how another quarterback runs the offense. Quite frankly, he could use a lesson in how to play "boring" football (Saleh's word).

Mike White, who gets the start after replacing Wilson last week, doesn't mind throwing checkdown passes. He completed 12 passes to running backs in two-plus quarters; Wilson has only 19 in five-plus games. Maybe some of that mindset will rub off on their highly touted rookie.

3. Let's make a deal: The focus is on wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims and safety Marcus Maye as Tuesday's NFL trading deadline approaches.

Crowder and Maye are on expiring contracts, which makes them more likely to be dealt. They can live without Crowder, who could be replaced in the slot by Elijah Moore. They're open to dealing Maye, a source said, but potential suitors want the Jets to eat some of his salary -- and that could be a holdup. His pending DUI charges probably won't impact his trade value since any league discipline wouldn't come down until 2022. The Jets are said to be looking for a second- or third-round pick, but that will be a tough get.

"If it’s something that’s going to help us, awesome," Saleh said. "But I also know we’re not looking (to have) a fire sale, either."

4. Subliminal message: Saleh, certainly aware of the mounting frustration among fans, made a subtle plea for patience.

Recalling a 41-17 win over the Bengals in 2019, when he was the San Francisco 49ers' defensive coordinator, Saleh said Cincinnati is "really the epitome of what a lot of teams strive to be. ... We just absolutely beat the brakes off them in Year 1 of their system. They’ve done a really nice job building it and bringing in the right guys and really keeping everything together and playing together."

Can the Jets follow the Bengals' script? Sure, but only if Wilson makes a giant leap in Year 2.

5. Groundhog Day: A quarterback change. An untested backup in the lineup. An injury to linebacker C.J. Mosley. A midseason vote of confidence by the owner. A post-bye disaster.

These are the 2021 Jets -- a repeat of the 2019 Jets.

Their miserable start is eerily similar to the miserable start in 2019, when the coach was Adam Gase. The years change, the coaches change, but some things stay the same.

In 2019, they went from Sam Darnold (mononucleosis) to Trevor Siemian (briefly) to Luke Falk at quarterback. With Wilson injured, the role of Falk is being played by White, who makes his first NFL start.

In 2019, acting owner Christopher Johnson -- only nine games into Gase's tenure -- felt the need to publicly pledge his support for Gase. On Tuesday, the real owner, Woody Johnson, did the same for Saleh after six games.

In 2019, they suffered a 31-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles after the bye. This time, it was a 54-13 defeat to the New England Patriots.

In 2019, they were 1-5 with a point differential of minus-93. Now they're 1-5 with a minus-95.

Call it deja boo.

6. Replacement follies: The Jets haven't had much luck when having to start their backup quarterback. In fact, they've lost 14 straight games. The last backup to win a game was Bryce Petty on Dec. 11, 2016 at the 49ers.

Since then, the records of their backups are: Petty 0-4, Josh McCown 0-3, Siemian 0-1, Falk 0-2 and Joe Flacco 0-4.

White is the next man up -- or down, if history repeats.

7. Flak for Flacco: As I've said many times, the Jets should've signed an experienced backup in the preseason or earlier. They didn't, which gives the Flacco trade a desperation feel. But really all they did was secure some low-cost quarterback insurance. They won't miss the sixth-round pick. Heck, general manager Joe Douglas might replace the pick with another deal over the next two days.

What this comes down to is White. If he performs competently, the backup-quarterback hysteria will die down. If he's Falk 2.0, it's fair to criticize Douglas, Saleh and LaFleur, who has a big say in offensive personnel.

8. Angry D: This was a tense, emotional week for the defense, which got thoroughly humiliated last week in New England. Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich used words like "anger," "embarrassment" and "inexcusable" to describe the mood. The discourse between coaches and players was brutally honest. The players spoke among themselves, trying to hash out some of the issues.

"We know that performance can't happen again," defensive end John Franklin-Myers said. "As a defensive line, we take accountability for it. It starts with us. That just can't happen again."

Saleh made his bones in the league as a defensive mastermind, a coach who could adjust amid injuries and adversity. Well, now is the time to live up to that reputation, especially with the Bengals' Joe Burrow-Ja'Marr Chase air show in town.

9. Did you know? The Jets have the slowest team in the league, according to a study by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Brian Burke. Specifically, they rank 31st on offense (the running backs bring down the number) and 28th on defense. The defensive ranking caught my eye, considering how many young players they have.

10. The last word: "Everybody came in Monday, we swallowed our pride and we watched the film. We saw the good, the bad and the ugly. Unfortunately, there was a lot of ugly on the film." -- Mosley on the 54-13 New England loss