A collection of observations after watching the New York Jets offensive game film against the Miami Dolphins. We will focus on a handful of plays before breaking down key individual position group’s performance. Make sure to check back later in the day for Chris Gross defensive film breakdown –
Operation Clusterf*** – The second interception thrown on the day by Mark Sanchez which came in the end-zone during the third quarter was a complete disaster from start to finish, beginning with the play call and ending with a horrid throw. With the ball on the 7 yard line, Tony Sparano called for a smash/fan combination to the right side of the formation. Jeff Cumberland was lined up at split end and Stephen Hill was in the slot.
A smash/fan is one of the most basic route combinations in football and one of the easiest reads for a quarterback. Basically the outside receiver will run 5-7 yards and hitch back to the quarterback. The slot receiver runs a post-corner route. If the outside corner squats on the hitch route, the quarterback throws to the post corner, if the cornerback bails at all, the quarterback throws to the hitch route.
The problem with the play call on the 7 yard line is that it limits the space between the two routes, making it easier for the outside corner to play both routes at once. What is also a problem is that they had Cumberland, who isn’t accustomed to lining up at receiver, running the outside route. His inexperience would shine through on this play by pushing his route way too far into the end-zone. Basically he ran a 9 yard route instead of a 5-7 yard route, which made the outside corner’s job that much easier. In the slot, Stephen Hill rounded off his route and didn’t make a sharp plant and cut to shake his coverage. In a tight space, making a hard sell to the inside is that much more important. Hill could get away with routes like this at Georgia Tech but not in the NFL.
On to Sanchez, who showed no patience and put way too much air under his pass. Basically Sanchez pre-determined in the huddle he was throwing to Hill at the back pylon. He takes three steps and releases the ball immediately, despite having excellent protection. If he would have waited an extra half second, he would have seen how deep Cumberland pushed his route at which point he could have either threw it on a line to Hill instead of floating it or could have put more air under it and got the ball to the back pylon, where it would have been caught by Hill or went out of bounds. Finally, he also could have saw how poor the route combination broke and turned back side to a wide open Santonio Holmes, who probably catches the ball at the 2 yard line and walks into the end-zone.
Sanchez – Overall it wasn’t a pretty day for Sanchez. The positives? He showed good pocket presence, repeatedly stepping up and delivering the ball down the field. He heated up late in the game and showed terrific chemistry with Santonio Holmes…finally. What is so frustrating is that throughout this game Sanchez made every throw necessary in a NFL playbook. He hit the deep dig route, he hit the comeback route outside the numbers, he hit the deep ball in stride down the numbers. However, there is no consistency. He repeatedly missed open receivers down the field and showed a lack of patience. On his first interception of the game, he needs to recognize how poor of a route Clyde Gates ran and how Richard Marshall is ready to jump it. Beyond that, if he is going to throw it, it must be more up the field. He will make throws like this and then make textbook throws like he did on Jeremy Kerley’s 66 yard catch (we’ll get to that later). The inconsistency is incredibly frustrating.
The Wide Receivers – Santonio Holmes did a complete 180 from last week. He ran sharp, aggressive routes and did a good job working back to the football when it came to him. Richard Marshall was unable to handle Holmes from the opening snap. He has the skill set to beat up on weaker corners like him. Holmes also handled rolled coverage very well, showing patience and finding the necessary windows.
Stephen Hill was a disaster out there. He had his leg rolled up early in the game and wasn’t the same after. Hill ran tentative routes and was shoved all over the field by Sean Smith. In the end-zone, he dropped a perfectly thrown fade ball and also had a long pass down the middle of the field bounce off his hands. It is doubtful Hill will play this week because of a hamstring injury but when he returns, he should be splitting reps with Chaz Schilens. Seeing his most extended work of the season, Schilens put together an impressive game. He ran crisp routes and should have a 69 yard touchdown if Mark Sanchez didn’t throw overthrow him on a beautifully executed double move. Schilens carries himself like a confident NFL receiver. Hill gets his confidence shaken too easily.
Jeremy Kerley deserves more playing time. He continued to demonstrate his big play ability, most notably on his 66 yard catch and run which was a thing of beauty from start to finish. The play was designed to clear out the middle of the field for Kerley, who drove his route hard up the field, snapped it back and then broke to the outside on a perfectly thrown ball from Sanchez who threw it away from the corner breaking to Kerley’s inside shoulder.
Kerley then shook both the corner and safety and was off to the races. When you see plays like this, it makes the inconsistency of the Jets offense that much more frustrating. The other receiver to play major reps was Clyde Gates, who simply put doesn’t merit any playing time. He rounds off every route and has no answer for physical coverage.
Offensive Line/Tight Ends – The protection in the passing game was very impressive, particularly in the second half. Austin Howard has very quietly put together a strong start to the season. Sanchez had a well formed pocket to throw from during most of the game. The run blocking wasn’t awful but has room for improvement. There are too many instances when Matt Slauson or Brandon Moore are knocked off the ball, clogging up running lanes. There were enough lanes to average more than 2 yards per carry as Shonn Greene did but that doesn’t mean the offensive line can’t perform at a higher level.
The fact that Jeff Cumberland is starting games at tight end is an embarrassment and a direct reflection on the poor job Mike Tannenbaum did this off-season building depth. He can’t block. He shows a lack of understanding of the offense and runs generally poor routes. Konrad Reuland is a better all around player than him by a sizable margin. Reuland shows a willingness to block and clearly understands his assignment on every play.
Running Backs – I won’t beat a dead horse. When a play is blocked like this, it needs to be more than a 2 yard gain –