FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Sam Darnold hasn’t taken many shots, but his offensive coordinator took one at the Patriots on Thursday.
Jeremy Bates said the Jets have had headset issues in each of their three games, forcing them to burn timeouts. While discussing the situation, Bates poked a little fun at the rival Patriots, who have stretched the boundaries of playing by the rules and were accused of tampering with headsets at home games three years ago.
“It’s been three games, and I’m not making excuses, but three times, our headsets failed us,” Bates said. “I’m not throwing anyone under the bus, but the button stopped working. We’ve tried to correct it. Obviously, we understand that can happen at any time, especially in New England.”
It was a tongue-in-cheek comment that could get some play and probably would get more if the Jets were playing the Patriots this week. But they will be in Jacksonville on Sunday, hoping their headsets are in complete working order and that Darnold can hear Bates’ play-calls in his helmet.
“We test it all the time,” Bates said. “We test it before the game. It’s just sometimes it fails. It’s technology, so it’s just part of the business. It happened in all three games. There’s sometimes interference, radio interference . . . It’s amazing. I don’t know how to do it, but I guess you can FaceTime people in China, but our headsets go out.”
Cue all the jokes, considering the Jets’ offense has looked anemic at times. They scored 12 points in a home loss to the Dolphins two weeks ago and were beaten by the Browns, 21-17, on Sept. 20, scoring three points in the last 37:58.
Now they’ll be facing one of the top defenses in the league in the Jaguars, and communication will have to be good to get their offense going against that unit.
Bates said the Jets have a backup system in the form of hand signals to get the play to Darnold when headset issues arise.
“We’ve come up with a system and we tried that system in Cleveland and we had to call a timeout,” Bates said. “We’re still growing with that.
“You have to get the signals. You get in that comfort zone of communicating with the quarterback, and all of a sudden, the button stops working. We got to be able to do a better job of having communication-difficulty problems and doing signals.”
Todd Bowles downplayed the headset problems, as he does most situations. He said it happens and that everyone has to adjust and pick up the hand signals if this arises again.
No one is blaming the Jets’ inconsistent offensive play on occasional lack of communication. Bates said communication with Darnold has been relatively smooth and that like the rookie quarterback, the offense is a work in progress.
Everyone is waiting for the Jets to open up the playbook and let Darnold take more shots downfield and also spread the ball around.
In the loss to Cleveland, many of the pass plays were screens to wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, who has been effective. He’s the Jets’ leading receiver with 17 catches for 212 yards.
But the Jets’ two biggest weapons last year, Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse, haven’t been targeted much. Enunwa has 29 targets to 18 for Anderson and Kearse combined.
“A lot of it the defense dictates as far as personnel going into a game,” Bates said. “What personnel matchups do we want to take advantage of? What personnel matchups give us the best opportunity? Every week is going to be slightly different. Obviously, we want to get everyone involved. It’s part of the game plan. It’s part of keeping the offense moving in the right direction.”
Anderson had a 41-yard touchdown in the Week 1 victory at Detroit but has fumbled in each of his last two games. Kearse missed the opener with an abdominal injury but is healthy now. Bates said he plans to get both receivers more involved
“Guys have to stay positive,” he said. “You never know when that time comes where your moment breaks out. I’ve been in an offense when I’ve told a certain receiver you’re probably not going to get the ball and he had 18 or 21 catches. You never know how the game’s going to turn out. You have to stay positive and believe the next play is going to be your opportunity to make a play.”