Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams watches his players during training...

Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams watches his players during training camp on Aug. 12, 2019. Credit: James Escher

Here’s how bad it has gotten in this dumpster fire of a 2020 season for the Jets: Adam Gase, who has presided over arguably the most wretched team in franchise history and has failed to summon a single victory in 12 tries, was well within his rights to fire defensive coordinator Gregg Williams over the inane call that resulted in Sunday’s 31-28 loss to the Raiders.

Gase has done nothing right in this woebegone year, failing at every turn to coax more out of Sam Darnold and the offense. And while he soon will be out of a job, he was left with no choice after Williams lit a match and incinerated all hope of what should have been a monumental upset of the Raiders.

Williams’ call to blitz Derek Carr in the final seconds was inexcusable, a lapse in judgment that ran counter to the very foundational principles of NFL defense.

Instead of doing what every sensible defensive coordinator would do — force Carr to make a desperation throw and attack it with a gaggle of defensive backs — Williams tried to show off and end the game with Carr on his back as the result of an all-out blitz. But the Raiders blocked it up and gave Carr time to wait for Henry Ruggs III to put a move on cornerback Lamar Jackson, blow past him and get wide open for the winning 46-yard touchdown pass with five seconds left.

"That was a heartbreaking way for our guys to lose that game," Gase said Monday. "For that to happen, and in that situation, it was just, just . . . We can’t have that happen."

Williams has been a boom-or-bust coordinator wherever he has been. He won a championship with the Saints, was implicated and suspended for organizing a bounty scheme, then ran amok in stops with the Rams, Titans, Browns and Jets.

He was a big reason the Jets recovered from a 1-7 start last year, as the Jets’ defense was at the heart of a 6-2 finish. But Williams had little of that magic this year, in large part because many of his best players — including Jamal Adams and Steve McLendon, both of whom were traded, and linebacker C.J. Mosley, who opted out because of COVID-19 — weren’t in the lineup.

But that defense did just enough against the Raiders to earn the win — until Williams ruined it with one of the worst calls imaginable.

It’s a decision that will join other pathetic moments in the long and tortured history of this franchise:

*  Mark Gastineau’s roughing-the-passer penalty in the 1986 playoffs.

*  The "Fake Spike" near the end of Pete Carroll’s one-and-done season in 1994.

*  Bubby Brister’s "Shovel Pass" nightmare a year later against a previously winless expansion team in Carolina — a signature play of Rich Kotite’s horrid two-year run.

*  Mark Sanchez’s "Butt Fumble" against the Patriots on Thanksgiving Night in 2012.

*  Sam Darnold "seeing ghosts" last year against the Patriots.

There isn’t a catchy nickname for Sunday’s fiasco, but no Jets fan will ever forget the moment that captured the utter helplessness of this pathetic season — and the play that eventually could help them land Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick.

Gase will pay for this and all the other failures put forth in 2020 at some point shortly after the Jets complete what could be the first winless season in franchise history and third 0-16 season in NFL history.

It has been one disappointment after the next, a reign of error so complete that it will go down as the worst of the worst for a team that has produced more than its share of misery.

If the Jets are lucky, they can transform their misfortune into a promising new coach, potentially a new quarterback and an opportunity for Joe Douglas, who appears to be good at his job, to build a capable roster.

There are no guarantees, of course. The Jets have had plenty of reboots over the years, only to see them collapse under the weight of mismanaged opportunity. If Douglas indeed is capable of choosing the right coach and the right quarterback, there is a chance.

But he and whomever he brings in are fighting against a tide of history — a tide so strong that even the most hopeful of souls who have dared to try to turn things around ultimately have succumbed to the struggles that have taken down so many others.

Like the one that swallowed Williams.


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