Do Jets RB Breece Hall’s comments point to a locker room looking for a leader?

The New York Jets are wondering how to proceed.

It’s like that when a team loses its starting quarterback — especially for the Jets, who spent their offseason emphasizing the enormous importance of Aaron Rodgers. Coaches have stressed Rodgers’ importance in meetings. (We’ve seen it again and again on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”) The front office has indicated Rodgers’ importance with his salary and trade value. The Jets have made it clear they need Rodgers.

They lost him to an Achilles injury in Week 1. And then in Week 2, the Jets were beaten 30-10 by the Dallas Cowboys. There wasn’t much work for the Jets. Not their defense. Not their offense. On offense, the Jets failed to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers.

At least one of them wasn’t happy about it.

“I mean, I only had four touches,” running back Breece Hall said Sunday after the game. “That’s why we struggled. But it is what it is. We came in early today and kind of gave up on the race. I feel like with any team, that kind of things happen. That’s the way it is. You feel like “I have to get back in the game and stuff like that. It escapes. So that’s what it was.

If there’s any consolation, it’s that Hall’s comments are mostly aimed at himself. He wants to do more for the team. But of course, who is in the way?

Well, it’s more complicated: his coaches, his quarterback, his defense.

Playing from behind, the play-caller (offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett) had to call passes. The quarterback continued to throw interceptions. And the defense couldn’t stop the Cowboys.

It was a cycle that kept the ball away from Hall.

Can the Jets salvage their season after Aaron Rodgers’ injury?

Can the Jets salvage their season after Aaron Rodgers' injury?

And there is another layer. Last week, coach Robert Saleh said Hall was asking for more touches in Week 1. Saleh told the media that Hall’s competitiveness — his desire to make more plays for the team — was exactly the reason the running back was on an instant count. This limited his load, even when he wanted to do more.

Hall recently returned from a torn ACL he suffered in Week 7 last season. He joined the team in practice during training camp, but the Jets are slowly recovering. New York signed four-time Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook to complement Hall. In Week 2, Hall had four carries for nine yards, Cook had four carries for seven yards, and Michael Carter had two carries for eight yards.

It wasn’t just load management for Hall, who had 10 carries for 127 yards and a 20-yard catch in Week 1. The small workload in Week 2 was all about playing well. away from the Jets.

“Shoot, I’m frustrated, but I don’t think it’s intentional,” Saleh said Monday when asked about Hall’s comments. “We didn’t get him the ball because they weren’t on the field. He was on the bench because we couldn’t get off the field on defense.”

Saleh understood Hall’s frustrations. But does this solve the problem in New York?

What will prevent this from happening again – both the Jets struggling on the field and the players showing their displeasure off the field?

New York’s offense isn’t built to mount a comeback — not without Rodgers. Zach Wilson did an adequate job managing the game until Dallas started to pull ahead. Then the Jets’ third-year quarterback started forcing throws downfield. He was inaccurate and made bad decisions often enough to finish the game with three interceptions. With each turnover, Wilson eliminated the running game even more. Because the further the Cowboys got ahead, the more the Jets needed their passing attack to get them back in the game.

As Saleh noted, his vaunted defense didn’t help Wilson or Hall. It’s hard to expect any team to limit the Cowboys’ scoring abilities, considering what they’ve done in the first two weeks. But that was the Jets’ only hope of staying in the game: maintaining a low score, similar to what they did against the Bills in their overtime victory in Week 1. New York held the Cowboys to three yards per carry, but receiver CeeDee Lamb took over the game with 11 catches for 143 yards. Dallas had the ball for 42:15, with 26 first downs to 12 for the Jets.

Wilson was no good. Neither does Hall. The offense didn’t have much luck.

“From the outside looking in, it’s easy to play the quarterback blame game,” second-year receiver Garrett Wilson said after Sunday’s game. “Honestly, that’s the world we live in, where you look at the best man – the leader, the quarterback, the one who makes the money – and you point the finger. But we all know internally that we have to all take the right steps and get better.

That’s the kind of comment that will get the Jets heading in the right direction. That’s the kind of comment that will keep the media from paying more attention to the Jets, who aren’t mentally strong enough to win without Rodgers. This is solid leadership.

Garrett Wilson is the true offensive leader. He’s trying to get the Jets back to a level where they can win games. In the meantime, the Jets need to be careful what they say. Everyone is watching. Everyone is scrutinizing. And a comment like Hall’s – no matter how innocuous – can disrupt the delicate situation New York is handling.

The Jets don’t have much chance of remaining relevant for the playoffs. But if they start turning on each other and openly questioning their coaches, they will enter a leadership crisis. And then everything will quickly collapse.

Before joining FOX Sports as an AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @henrycmckenna.

FOLLOW Follow your favorites to personalize your FOX Sports experience

National Football League

New York Jets

Brece Room

Get more from the National Football League Follow your favorites for gaming information, news, and more.


Back to top button