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You Simply Cannot Explain Gregg Williams’s Horrendous Play Call

Henry Rugg III
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

If you haven’t yet seen how the Jets lost a game to the Raiders yesterday, I offer this advice in all sincerity: Do not look upon the play. I do not believe it is safe for a human being to torment their mind with questions that Gregg Williams’s final defensive call of the game demands to be asked. To have seen that play is to have seen one of Lovecraft’s horrors up close—the madness of it, the inexplicable terror of it, will never leave your mind. You will never stop asking yourself one question: “Why the fuck did Gregg Williams do that?”

It’s a question that seemingly the entire football world has been trying to answer ever since Henry Ruggs III glided into the end zone for a game-winning touchdown with one hopeless defender trailing behind him. How could any defensive coordinator, with his team up by four, the opponent with the ball near the 50, and 13 seconds left on the clock, call an all-out blitz with no safeties over the top? It was, according to ESPN Stats and Info, a call that has possibly never been made before.

Williams did not speak to reporters after the game, and everyone who did seemed to be at a complete loss. “It is what it is,” said quarterback Sam Darnold.

“That situation, just has to be a better call. We gotta execute, but you gotta help us out at the same time,” said defensive back Marcus Maye.

“These players deserve better than going through that,” said head coach Adam Gase.

It’s not surprising, then, that some smelled a fix. The Jets, now 0-12 after yesterday’s loss, have a good chance to lock down the privilege of drafting Trevor Lawrence in next year’s draft, and defeating the Raiders would have added some unwanted friction to their journey to the bottom. So you can’t really blame anyone for seeing Williams’s call—perhaps the stupidest play call in the history of football!—and thinking that the Jets were trying to give up a game-winning touchdown in that situation.

But here’s the trouble with applying any conspiratorial thinking to this mess: Williams has no reason to take a dive. There’s absolutely no chance that he or anyone else on the Jets’ coaching staff is going to be around next season, and so it wouldn’t really make sense for Williams, who will be sent home to his couch in a matter of weeks, to throw a game in order to make sure Lawrence ends up in New York. The nearest I can get to making sense of the fix theory is that Williams might despise Gase so much that he is willing to do whatever it takes to get Gase fired. That would be an extremely rotten thing to do, but Williams is an extremely rotten person.

Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky offered up a different explanation, which is that Williams has previously called for all-out blitzes in late-game situations where his opponent needs to throw deep, and that doing so on Sunday was just a continuation of his football philosophy. To buy this explanation requires one to believe that Williams thinks himself so smart, so clearly superior to every other defensive coordinator that has ever come before him, that he would make a play call that defies all wisdom and logic. Given everything we know about Williams, that’s not actually all that hard to believe.

And thus we have landed on perhaps the most terrifying explanation of all. We are now saddled with the knowledge that in this world exists a man who is so arrogant, so assured of the superiority of his own rotten intellect, that he would willingly, with clear eyes and clear purpose, call for a Cover 0 blitz and leave a receiver who ran a 4.2 40-yard dash in single coverage on a play where his team’s only job was to prevent a 46-yard touchdown.

How can this be? How can the world produce a mind like that?

Update (11:21 a.m. ET): Fired!

Dear god, let that play be the last call Williams ever makes in the NFL.