The game wasn’t exactly going the way the Jets envisioned it, and neither was the game plan, and all of a sudden, there was Quinnen Williams, best player on the team, and one of the jolliest, nose to nose on the sideline early in the second quarter with his defensive line coach, Aaron Whitecotton.
“Put it on our back!” Williams roared.
Joe Burrow had just hit Tyler Boyd for a 56-yard TD against a seven-man rush thanks in part to a shoddy tackle attempt from Jordan Whitehead, and Mount Williams erupted.
Cardiac Jets one week, Folly Green Jets the next.
“And that came out of me to just challenge my D-Line coach like, ‘Yo, put it on our back, coach. You know what we got in this room. Four-man rush, we don’t need all these extra blitzes and stuff like that, put it on our backs and let’s go out there and rush,’ ” Williams said.
Why does it have to take the Jets trailing 14-3 on their way to a 27-12 loss to the Bengals for coaches and players to get on the same page?
Passion in the heat of battle is not necessarily a bad thing — see Bill Parcells and Phil Simms — but disconnect between the defensive coaching staff and the players is an ominous sign.
The Jets can pooh pooh it as a family feud, but head coach Robert Saleh might want to hand out those “Positive Vibes Only” T-shirts and ride herd over it.
“It’s not like I’m calling the plays and make them call the plays and different stuff like that,” Williams said. “I feel like this team, this defense, is going to go as the defensive line goes. We got to step up and put the whole defense, put the whole team on our backs. I feel like every last one of those guys feels the same way. Don’t try to shy away from that challenge.”
Whitecotton had gotten up from a knee to confront his star player.
“We were saying the same things to each other but just loud at each other,” Williams said.
He remembers Whitecotton telling him: “I want you to four-man rush. I want you to go get a sack.”
They would kiss and make up but not before the CBS cameras showed several of Williams’ defensive linemen brothers separating the two of them.
“At the end of the day, you don’t want blowups like that,” Sheldon Rankins told The Post, “but you love to see guys have that passion, that fire, to want to put in on themselves to go out there and be that guy to make the play. It’s definitely not like him, he’s normally smiling, happy-go-lucky, cracking jokes, always see those big teeth.”
Poor Whitecotton. Jeff Ulbrich is Saleh’s defensive coordinator. He was not in the immediate vicinity of the brouhaha.
“The messenger kind of caught some fire in the midst of it all,” Rankins said, and chuckled. “Our D-line coach is the one who handles the things from the drive.”
In the locker room, Williams professed his love for his D-line/brother coach. “It was kind of more of a pump up than animosity,” Solomon Thomas said.
He was one of the peacemakers.
“Obviously it doesn’t look good, so we don’t want everybody to see that, you want to keep that internal,” Thomas said.
Though Rankins recorded the only sack on 36 Burrow dropbacks, it was more the lousy communication in the secondary on a 5-yard Ja’Marr Chase TD catch that proved to be the inevitable final nail in the coffin.
All this on a day that saw John Franklin-Myers unnecessarily pushing Burrow into the turf at the end of a third-and-9 throwaway that ultimately gave the Bengals a touchdown, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the end zone against Corey Davis that forced Joe Flacco to overcome third-and-2 — which he could not on a day when he had no running game, no protection and four turnovers and was serenaded again with “We Want [Mike] White” by those Same Old Long-Suffering Jets fans.
“We got dogs in our room, bro, and everybody on the staff knows, everybody in the organization knows,” Williams said.
It didn’t appear that everyone in the organization did when the game began.
“We weren’t getting there the way we wanted to,” Thomas said. “We just wanted to rush with our D-line.”
Terrible optics for a team still trying to learn how to win.
“The TV made it look different than it really was on the field,” Williams said.
I said: “It wasn’t pretty.”
“Football’s not pretty,” Williams responded.
Not the way the Folly Green Jets played, no.
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