Jets coach Adam Gase blames himself for starting LB's season-ending injury

The New York Jets were dealt a significant blow on Friday with the news that starting inside linebacker Avery Williamson had torn his ACL during a preseason game.

All major preseason injuries are tough, but what made Williamson’s injury even more regrettable was that he was playing while all of the Jets’ other starters had been pulled from the game.

In an age where basically every firm starter is off the field by the end of the first quarter, if he plays at all, during the first two weeks of preseason, Williamson was playing late into the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons.

Jets coach Adam Gase issued a rare NFL head coach mea culpa about the situation on Sunday, saying he regretted putting Williamson in that situation.

Adam Gase laments, and explains, Avery Williamson injury

From Rich Cimini of ESPN:

"Looking back on it -- hindsight is 20/20 -- I wish I would've gotten him out of there a series earlier," Gase said. "I talked to him. It's on me. I'm the one who has to make that call and get him out of there. We didn't. It's a shame because he was having a good camp."

Per Cimini, Gase said that the reason Williamson was still playing was that the coaching staff wanted to see him play next to back-up Neville Hewitt, ironically to be ready in case C.J. Mosley suffered an injury. Signing Mosley this offseason pushed Williamson into the weak-side ILB position, so the staff wanted to try different combinations of inside linebackers.

Williamson was a huge part of the Jets’ defense last season in his first year with the team after leaving the Tennessee Titans. The 27-year-old posted 120 tackles, three sacks and six pass deflections.

New York Jets inside linebacker Avery Williamson (54) sacks Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) during the first half an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Avery Williamson was the only Jets starter on the field at the time of his injury. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Gase justifies sitting Le’Veon Bell for preseason

Gase also announced Sunday that star running back Le’Veon Bell will not see a single snap this preseason. He reportedly admitted the decision to hold Bell back and the circumstances of Willamson’s injury were not unrelated.

"I was 99.9 percent sure what we were going to do," Gase said, per ESPN. "The [Williamson injury] probably made it 100."

Bell didn’t seem too torn up about the decision, tweeting emojis to fans hours later.

Bell, obviously no stranger to sitting out games to prevent injury, will make his Jets debut in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills.

More from Yahoo Sports: