FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Johnson & Johnson? Owner Woody Johnson, who left the team in 2017 to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, will be out of a job in the coming months. A new administration takes over Jan. 20, 2021, which means Johnson -- a Donald Trump appointee -- will be free to return to the Jets.
Will he do so?
If so, when?
These are just some of the questions hovering over the franchise as it prepares for a tumultuous offseason. The organization has been tight-lipped on the Woody Johnson matter, except for CEO Christopher Johnson saying he expects to maintain a prominent role once his big brother comes back. When the season is over, the Jets need to reveal their succession plan -- or at least provide clarity -- because it will impact how they do business.
Let's assume Woody Johnson does replace Christopher as the day-to-day boss. The hot-button issues:
Adam Gase's fate. The embattled coach has a strong relationship with Christopher, the man who hired him in 2019. Gase is hoping Christopher will toss him a life preserver if he manages to win a couple of games and the rookies show promise. That dynamic changes if Woody parachutes in and gets involved in the decision. Gase and Woody Johnson barely know each other.
Timing is everything. Let's say Gase is fired, which is the likely outcome. It will be another coaching search. Teams like to move quickly because the competition for top candidates is fierce, which raises questions: Would Woody Johnson be involved in the process? Would he participate from England via Zoom? Would the Jets delay until he's back? The candidates will want to know who's in charge.
A minority hire. There is a leaguewide emphasis on minority hiring. Woody Johnson, who has hired two Black head coaches (Herm Edwards and Todd Bowles), will be under a spotlight because a government report said he made racist comments while serving as ambassador. It’s fair to wonder whether that would increase his desire and/or impact his ability to hire a minority candidate such as Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
Big-name hunting. As owner from 2000 to 2017, Woody Johnson loved to make splashy moves, especially with quarterbacks. (See: Brett Favre and Tim Tebow.) Knowing Johnson, he's probably jazzed by the prospect of starting over with Clemson's Trevor Lawrence.
Social justice. Christopher's on-field results have been dismal -- 16-41 with him in charge -- but he's regarded as a player-friendly boss who has stood with his players (literally) during times of strife. Woody Johnson never was able to achieve that type of connection. That's why it makes sense to keep Christopher as a conduit to the players.
2. Double standard? If Gase is committed to the youth movement, he should redistribute the carries at running back and give rookie La'Mical Perine more work than Frank Gore. It makes little sense for a winless team, building for the future, to have a 37-year-old as the primary ball carrier.
Since Le'Veon Bell was sent packing, Perine has received most of the playing time (120 snaps to Gore's 85), but he has only 32 carries to Gore's 44. This is hardly an egregious disparity, but it certainly raises an eyebrow. So why is it happening? Two thoughts:
Gase's well-documented affinity for Gore, the third-leading rusher in NFL history, colors his judgment. He said Gore is "playing at one of the higher levels of anybody we have right now," yet it should be noted that he's ranked 46th out of 47 qualified rushers in yards per carry (3.6).
The other thought is that Perine (also averaging 3.6 yards per carry) hasn't demonstrated any special qualities, so why should he be The Guy?
Bottom line: Gore shouldn't be buried because of his age, but the majority of the carries should go to Perine. Gase has seven games to make it right.
3. KB better than LB: Gase took a lot of flak for how he used Bell, but has anybody checked on him in Kansas City? He's been dreadful -- 16 rushes for 54 yards. Maybe it wasn't a Jets thing; maybe it was a Bell thing.
Who could've imagined the best running back dumped by the Jets this season would be Kalen Ballage? Yes, you read that correctly. And they have to deal with him Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
Ballage, cut by the Jets after he blew a couple of pass-protection assignments in the Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos, landed on the Los Angeles Chargers' practice squad and worked his way into a prominent role -- 33 carries for 137 yards in the past two games.
4. Almost toast: It's rare for a team to be eliminated from playoff contention before Thanksgiving, but the Jets (0-9) are staring at that possibility and it's only Week 11. There are six scenarios in play, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Instead of listing all of them and complicating the inevitable, just know this:
If they lose to the Chargers and the Miami Dolphins or Indianapolis Colts win, the Jets are toast. It would clinch their 10th straight year out of the playoffs, one shy of the longest drought in franchise history (1970-80).
5. Did you know? The Jets have lost 14 straight games, dating to 2016, when their starting quarterback is out of the lineup. That includes an 0-9 mark without Sam Darnold. Joe Flacco, replacing injured Darnold, hopes to end the streak Sunday. Flacco is 0-3.
6. Dynamic duo: Former Jets tight end Anthony Becht, a college football analyst, raises an interesting possibility regarding the draft. He believes the team with the first pick should hire Clemson offensive coordinator, Tony Elliott, pairing him with Lawrence.
"That could be a package deal," Becht said on ESPN's Flight Deck podcast, explaining that Lawrence's familiarity with the offense would put him way ahead of the rookie curve. "Could you imagine the upside to that for a team? ... It makes too much sense. It's a no-brainer."
7. Hole in Trevor's game? Interesting take on Lawrence from June Jones, the former NFL coach and offensive guru: Although he called Lawrence "a superior athlete playing quarterback" and "a great leader," he wondered about his long-ball accuracy and suggested his completion percentage (71%) is inflated because of so many screen passes.
"The only question is, how accurate is he on throws down the field?" said Jones, who has an instructional video on CoachTube.com. "He has tremendous receivers at Clemson with size and completes passes down the field, but a lot of times on the film I've watched, the receivers make some great catches on balls that are there but not right on the money."
The numbers support his opinion. Before this weekend, Lawrence was 10-for-29 (35%) on passes of at least 20 air yards, which ranked 63rd in the country, per ESPN Stats & Info data. In case you're wondering, Ohio State's Justin Fields was 8-for-11 (73%).
8. Not an excuse: There's always a lot of injury talk around the Jets, but they've been relatively lucky in that only two players have suffered season-ending injuries -- cornerback Brian Poole (shoulder) and defensive end Kyle Phillips (ankle).
9. California chill: Rookie safety Ashtyn Davis still doesn't own a car. He rides a bike every day from his apartment to the Jets' facility. It's just 10 minutes, but it was only 23 degrees on a recent morning -- weather shock for someone from Santa Cruz, California.
10. The Last Word: "I feel like every rookie, we've all got that chip on our shoulder. We all want to be the reason why we win. I feel like every rookie is taking that approach" -- tackle Mekhi Becton, one of 12 rookies on the roster.