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#pounditSaturday, September 30, 2023

Jets’ horrible clock management costs them in loss to Lions

Robert Saleh talks with the media

Jul 27, 2021; Florham Park, NJ, United States; New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh talks with the media on training camp report day at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets badly mismanaged the final minute of their comeback attempt against the Detroit Lions, and it cost them dearly in the end.

The Jets found themselves in a difficult spot with one minute to go with the ball at their own 38 down three. However, they did have all three of their timeouts remaining, so they should not have had to worry about the clock. On the second play of the drive, quarterback Zach Wilson found wide receiver Garrett Wilson for a ten-yard gain, moving the ball just shy of midfield.

Though coach Robert Saleh still had all his timeouts, he curiously opted not to use one after that play. That allowed roughly 20 seconds to come off the clock before the next play, leaving the team with 31 seconds to go. That is a far cry from the roughly 45-50 seconds they would have had by calling timeout, and was roundly criticized even at the time.

Wilson was sacked two plays later, which prompted the Jets to use their first timeout with 19 seconds to go. A desperation play wound up picking up 20 yards for the Jets, but Wilson’s scrambling left the team with just one second on the clock once they used their second timeout. That meant the best they could do was to set up kicker Greg Zuerlein for a 58-yard field goal attempt, which went wide left. The Jets lost, and their bizarre clock management meant they never actually got to use that final timeout.

After the game, Saleh said he was trying to save timeouts, but seemed to question his own decision not to use the first one after Wilson’s reception.

“With three timeouts, feel like anything in bounds, you can be aggressive. Just trying to save as many timeouts as I can,” Saleh said. “I can probably look back at it and say we could have used one, for sure. But at the same time, when you have three timeouts, time is not an issue whether you use one there or not. I could always, in hindsight, for me, call the timeout to settle the guys down.”

Clock management has a way of getting a lot of coaches in trouble, and Saleh will not be the last. The questions are justified here, though. While his quarterback missed plenty of receivers and his offense played poorly, the coach probably could have set things up better for his team.


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