Is Chan Gailey going to be the Jets sacrificial lamb?

Chan Gailey has become an easy target these days, a convenient culprit to help ease the pain for this forgettable season. In a few weeks, he might become the sacrificial lamb.

The Jets have two play callers in the building: Todd Bowles and Gailey.

Since Bowles isn’t going to fire himself, Gailey stands to be the scapegoat for the Jets.

There will almost certainly be other coaching changes too after some position groups drastically underachieved, but Bowles, who has sole control over which coaches stay or go, will need to show that the status quo isn’t acceptable.

Chan Gailey opens up on Jets QB change and offensive woes

I’m not sold that Gailey deserves to be fired despite the woeful offensive numbers this season. Remember, this is the same guy, who oversaw the most prolific offense in franchise history last year.

Did Gailey magically forget how to call good plays in his second season? Did he suddenly become clueless?

Of course not, but offensive coordinator’s live in a world where second-guessing is part of the job description. Gailey, who has coached for seven organizations over four decades, knows the drill. We’re all Monday Morning Quarterbacks. We’re all Bill Walsh in our own minds. Play-calling is a snap.

“Being a head coach, being a play caller and being a quarterback are all kind of similar in that it’s always easy to question that person,” Ryan Fitzpatrick told the Daily News. “But when you are that person and you’re having to make every decision … it’s a hard thing to do. It’s harder than it looks. Most people that are critiquing and criticizing have never been in that position.”

Firing Todd Bowles now would turn the Jets into the Browns

Ryan Fitzpatrick's season-long woes have led to finger-pointing at the man calling the plays.

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s season-long woes have led to finger-pointing at the man calling the plays.

(Charlie Riedel/AP)

“It’s not even (people) that never played,” Fitzpatrick continued. “It’s even people who have played, but have never been the person that calls plays. It’s not an easy thing. As a head coach, all the decisions you make get scrutinized. That’s part of the job. That’s how head coach, coordinator and quarterback are similar … You are the decision maker. You’re the one doing it so everything you do is going to be scrutinized. A lot of people that are doing (the criticizing) have never been in that position before. Maybe they don’t realize the difficulty of it.”

Bowles hired Gailey, who was out of football for two seasons, for myriad reasons. He had twice before been a head coach. He had cultivated quarterbacks. He was expected to provide the calm and leadership needed for an offense that had struggled badly in the previous four seasons under Rex Ryan.

Gailey’s offense flourished last season to help Bowles win 10 games.

It all became unhinged this year.

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The Jets are 22nd in total offense, 26th in passing offense and tied for 28th in scoring. Gailey’s offense has had a 27.3 percent decline in scoring, 9.9 percent total yardage dip and 12.3 percent drop in passing yardage from 2015. The Jets are nowhere close to reaching the franchise-record 5,925 total yards from last season. They’re on pace for 28 touchdowns – 16 fewer than a year ago.

Gailey’s unit failed to score a touchdown in 16 consecutive possessions during a stretch bridging back-to-back losses to the Steelers and Cardinals. The Jets managed just two touchdowns, including one fluke score, during a 23-drive stretch spanning three consecutive losses from Weeks 4-6.

The tipping point came during a Week 3 defeat in Kansas City. There were plenty of people on One Jets Drive unhappy with Gailey’s red-zone play-calling in a 24-3 loss to the Chiefs. Specifically, they weren’t too pleased with Gailey’s six passing plays – and no runs – from the 10-yard line and in. The result: Fitzpatrick went 1 for 6 with two interceptions in the end zone.

Back page of the New York Daily News for Octover 13, 2016.

Back page of the New York Daily News for Octover 13, 2016.

(New York Daily News)

It highlighted an eight-turnover nightmare for Bowles’ team and prompted concerns about the offensive coordinator from within the organization.

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It was not Gailey’s finest hour, but it’s unfair to ignore the realities of this season, including losing Eric Decker for the bulk of it. Gailey has had to quickly incorporate a slew of rookie receivers. He’s now working with a second-year project quarterback.

“You have to learn certain skill sets and learn how to utilize guys,” Fitzpatrick said. “So there was some newness there. That’s what I think he does a great job with.”

Gailey has not been able to effectively utilize Jets tight ends, which might be an indictment on the players at that position more than the man calling the plays. Decker’s loss has turned one of the best red-zone offenses into one of the worst.

Gailey, of course, is ultimately responsible for all of it. He’s not a quitter, either, so any announcement of a “retirement” at the end of the season would be window dressing. He wants to continue to coach. He’ll turn 65 next month, but has the work ethic and drive of a much younger man.

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“He could be in Georgia playing with his grandkids, but he wanted to come back and coach,” Fitzpatrick said. “The fire and the energy are still there, for sure.”

Is Gailey really the problem? Or is he going to be nothing more than the fall guy for a lost team?

Tags:
nfl
new york jets
chan gailey
ryan fitzpatrick
todd bowles

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