FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur issued an emphatic mea culpa Thursday, saying he canceled the call that could have cost New York a sad victory Sunday against the Buccaneers.
“It’s 100 percent on me,” LaFleur said, commenting for the first time on Zach Wilson’s fateful quarterback sneaking late in the 28-24 loss to the defending Super Bowl champions. “I’m disappointed in myself for two reasons. I’m proud of communication and, in our unit, of execution … And I failed both.”
LaFleur repeated what coach Robert Saleh said after the game – that the plan on the fourth and second from Bucs’ 7-yard line was to give the ball to Braxton Berrios on an end-around. But somehow the communication went wrong. Wilson was given the opportunity to sneak in if the Bucs did not have a defender in the A-gap, which they did not have.
“The overall intention was to get Braxton the ball. He was balling and I failed to get it passed,” LaFleur said. “Our quarterback did exactly what he was supposed to do at that moment.”
Wilson was engulfed by Bucs’ defense, which filled him with no gain. If the Jets had made a first down, they could have run the time out. Repetitions showed that Berrios could have scored on a pass.
Instead, Tom Brady took over and led a 93-yard touchdown drive, throwing the game’s winner with 15 seconds left.
Afterwards, Saleh was upset by the coaching staff and said, “We need to be better for our players.” It ruined what would have been a signature win for the Jets (4-12), who have struggled in a rebuilding year. They end the season Sunday at the Buffalo Bills (10-6).
LaFleur, a first-year coordinator and the younger brother of Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur, is known for his responsibilities.
“Like I said, I know what our intention was, whether people will believe it or not,” he said. “That’s what happened and I failed both. I have to live with that. I know I’ll learn from it. I’ve learned from that. You can not let the same game beat you twice. I the situation I want to make sure it does not happen again. “
There were 19 seconds left on the game clock when the ball was intercepted, meaning the Jets’ sideline still had the ability to communicate with Wilson. The radio turns off with 15 seconds left.
“Completely, at the moment, I did not pass on what we wanted to get done,” LaFleur said. “That’s what’s disappointing. Like I said to the players, I know we called the game right, but I did not get the communication done, so it does not matter.”