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Jets OC Bates says team had headsets go out in all 3 games

September 27, 2018

FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2018, file photo, New York Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates looks on during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in East Rutherford, N.J. Bates says the team has experienced malfunctions in its sideline headsets in each of its three games this season. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Hello? Is this thing on?

Well, in each of their games this season, the New York Jets have had moments during which their sideline headsets briefly malfunctioned.

“It’s been three games, and I’m not making excuses, but three times our headsets failed us,” offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said Thursday. “Not throwing anyone under the bus, but the button stopped working. We’ve tried to correct it.”

Bates stands on the sideline during games while calling plays and sending them through headsets to quarterback Sam Darnold. When the headsets fail, Darnold can’t hear anything from Bates.

“Obviously, we understand that that can happen anytime,” Bates said, “especially in New England.”

That drew a few chuckles from reporters, of course. The Patriots were accused by some teams — and, ultimately, cleared — a few years ago of tampering with headsets at Gillette Stadium.

But, it has been an occasional issue over the years for teams in stadiums around the NFL, where they experience interruptions in their headsets. Electrical systems and inclement weather are the most common culprits.

The Jets have had to work around those issues at Detroit, at home against Miami and at Cleveland.

“We’ve come up with a system and we tried that system in Cleveland and we had to call a timeout,” Bates said. “So, we are still growing with that. But as far as the communication with Sam, he’s extremely bright, he can spit out the plays.

“There are certain situations where we have wristbands when the plays are a little bit longer. So, we do that, we do a little bit of both. As far as getting in and out of the huddle, I think it’s been good execution.”

Bates said the Jets test their headset equipment before every game, but the technology simply fails sometimes.

There will be frustrating moments of static radio interference and others when there’s nothing at all on either end.

“I’ve always said that it’s amazing,” Bates said. “I don’t know how to do it, but I guess you can FaceTime people in China, but our headsets go out.”

Jets coach Todd Bowles acknowledged that there have been technical difficulties this season, but it’s nothing new.

“I mean, it’s part of the game,” he said. “It happens every year. There’s quite a few games that it happens in, so that’s something you have to adjust. That’s why you go over signals all the time, and you kind of move on from there. That’s part of technology. It’s going to be around for a long time, so that’s not a big deal. We just adjust and move on.”

If one team’s entire headset system goes out for an extended period of time, the other team has its headsets turned off, too, so that neither has an advantage.

“It’s got to be out consistently,” Bowles said. “But if one guy goes out and it sputters, you just move on and you play. You don’t waste timeouts doing that.”

Aside from the occasional technology-related communication issues, Bates has been mostly happy with the way his rookie quarterback has performed to start his career.

Darnold has been solid at times and shaky at others, which is to be expected. He mentioned that he needs to be more decisive with his reads, something with which Bates agreed.

“We’ve got to go through our progression fast, we’ve got to believe in it and he’s going to continue to do that,” Bates said. “Obviously, he’s still young, but when he believes in his progression and he believes in his stroke, good things happen. We are going to continue to work on that. He’s going to work on that this week, he’s going to work on it next week and he’s going to work on it the rest of his career. You can always play faster, no matter what year you are.”

Darnold began his NFL career by playing three games in 11 days, which is certainly a tough task. He has three touchdown passes and five interceptions, and his 72.0 quarterback rating ranks him 28th in the league.

But by no means does Bates think expectations should be lowered for Darnold and the rest of the Jets’ offense because the 21-year-old QB is still feeling his way through things.

“Absolutely not,” Bates said. “Everyone is in the National Football League. This is a professional business, and he would say the same. He expects a lot out of himself and so do we.”

NOTES: WR Terrelle Pryor was added to the injury report after tweaking his groin during practice. Bowles characterized it as “sore,” but wouldn’t elaborate. ... TE Neal Sterling (concussion) and WR Charone Peake (hamstring) didn’t practice. ... OLB Josh Martin was a full participant for the first time since suffering a concussion in the Jets’ third preseason game. ... S Marcus Maye (ankle/foot), CB Buster Skrine (knee) and S Doug Middleton (knee/finger) were limited.

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