How Jets can give their struggling offense a jump-start

There is no truth to the rumor that the Jets are petitioning the league to start their games with the second quarter or move kickoff times to 2:30.

You couldn’t blame them, though, if the Jets were trying anything to get their games to start quicker. By now you know the numbers. The Jets have not scored a point in the first quarter through five games and have gained just 79 yards — 11 passing yards. Their offense has started slower than a 1975 Buick on a winter morning.

For coach Robert Saleh, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and the entire coaching staff, that is the focus of the bye week: How do the Jets start games faster? They have had to play from behind in every game this season because of the slow starts.

“That’s what we’re spending this week on,” Saleh said Monday.

No one has called me from the Jets for my opinion, but I’m here to give it anyway. Here are a few ways I think the Jets can try to jump-start an offense that looked as mobile as Stonehenge in London on Sunday.

1. Let them compete

A funny thing happens in the NFL. The first-team offense and first-team defense face each other throughout training camp and then rarely again during the season. They face the scout team mostly in practice.

Zach Wilson and Robert Saleh
Zach Wilson and Robert Saleh
USA TODAY Sports (2)

Here is what I would propose for the Jets: Open up practice with a competition period between the starting offense and starting defense that simulates the start of the game. Now, Zach Wilson is not facing a backup inside linebacker, but rather C.J. Mosley. Both sides will get tested right away in practice. You do this on Wednesday and Thursday and maybe the level of competition will elevate their play. You go back to the scout teams later in practice to prepare for the opponent but give everyone a jolt to start practice.

I’m not sure how much input LaFleur is asking for from Wilson at the moment, but he should get more. Work on the opening script with Wilson. Let him pick his favorite plays. Build the game plan around your young quarterback. Everyone who has a boss knows that projects are more meaningful when you are invested in the early stages. Instead of presenting him with a game plan, build it with him.

3. Rep the script again and again

The Jets have an interesting opportunity here with the bye week and the Patriots being their next opponent. I think LaFleur should be able to come up with the opening script of 15 plays earlier than normal. Many times teams don’t present the opening script to the team until late in the week, sometimes Saturday. But the Jets have all of this extra time and are facing a familiar opponent, one they just played a month ago. This game should not require as much prep work as usual to come up with what you want to do to start the game. If LaFleur can develop the script early, the Jets should be able to practice it more than usual and get the plays down before the game arrives.

4. Take the ball

If you win the coin toss, take the ball. Coaches love to defer. The Jets have done it the three times they have won the toss this year. I get all the reasons that you want to defer, but right now your offense needs a vote of confidence. Give it one. If you win the toss, take the damn ball and tell your offense you are opening up the game with a touchdown.

5. Take a shot

The Jets have been very conservative at the start of games. They have started off with a run in four of the five games. Some of them have gained decent yards, but it is time for LaFleur to be bold and maybe give the offense a jolt in the process. LaFleur should start Denzel Mims, the team’s best downfield threat, and take a shot to him. Maybe you catch the defense napping. Maybe you hit a 60-yard touchdown that would relieve the pressure the offense must feel during the first quarter with this drought right now. Design up your best deep-ball play and dial it up right out of the gate.

If none of this works, warm-ups for the Bengals game start at 8 a.m.