Turn On The Jets Film Room – New York Jets Passing Game Week 1

Joe Caporoso breaks down the film on the New York Jets passing game in week 1

Every week Joe Caporoso will break down different aspects of the New York Jets passing game. Today we focus on Geno Smith’s NFL debut, Stephen Hill’s route running, Marty Mornhinweg’s blitz-beaters and plenty more. 

Today’s film breakdown is primarily going to focus on Geno Smith’s performance by pinpointing a few of his positive plays and a few of his negative plays. Overall, Smith had an encouraging debut, completing over 60% of his passes, rushing for nearly 50 yards and demonstrating a general calm and confidence to his game. He is still locking on to his primary receiver too often and is prone to turnovers but it was a performance he can build off of and one that Jets fans should feel good about.

On the Jets first offensive play, Marty Mornhinweg drew up a well-designed big hitter to Jeremy Kerley which went for 26 yards. Kerley lined up tight to the formation in the slot, sold a seal block and then released for a waggle route (basically running on a 45 degree angle across the formation). Kerley angles directly behind the middle linebacker. Smith, who is given a perfect pocket to throw from, shows good anticipation by releasing the ball as soon as it becomes apparent Kerley is going to beat the linebacker into the zone behind him. This was a cleverly designed play, a perfect placed throw and a well-executed route.

First Play


Later in the game, the Jets booted Geno Smith out to the right. He has plenty of space to work with so instead of dumping the ball in the flat for a short gain, he waits an extra second and fires a missile to Clyde Gates (just inside the 50 yard line) for a 17 yard gain. Smith shows good patience and an elite level of arm strength on this pass. It is also a good job by Gates staying with the play and working himself open behind the linebacker.


One of Smith’s most impressive plays on the day was his execution of the screen pass below to Bilal Powell, which went for 14 yards. Smith is under immense pressure, speeding the release of his pass. Despite the linebacker in his face, he is able to loft an accurate and catchable ball to a wide open Powell. Smith has a natural feel for the screen game, as we saw during his time at West Virginia. Anybody who minimizes the value of being able to execute a well-blocked screen under pressure hasn’t been watching Mark Sanchez the past four seasons.


A critical play in the game was a 18 yard completion to Kellen Winslow Jr which set up the Jets only touchdown. Out of the huddle this was designed to be a shot to the end-zone to Ryan Spadola who is lined up in the slot. Geno Smith fakes a handoff and locks on to Spadola, his primary target (a problem for him throughout the day).



Spadola is covered by the linebacker and safety, Smith begins to roll right and has an open receiver in the flat, he pumps the football to him and keeps moving to the right because of how much space he has (thanks to Willie Colon among others).


Smith then smartly takes the time to set his feet and delivers a perfectly placed throw to Winslow between two defenders. First down Jets.


It wasn’t all positives for Smith on Sunday. He had a killer fumble that set up a Tampa Bay touchdown. The protection isn’t optimal here but Smith needs to know where he is on the field, how long he has been in the pocket, and where he is within the pocket. He cannot hold the football with one hand and cock his arm back like that in this situation. Smith should keep moving out to the left with both hands on the football.


Smith’s interception was solely his fault. With pressure in his face, Smith badly overthrew an open check-down to Chris Ivory which was easily picked off. There is going to be rookie mistakes like this moving forward from Smith.


Moving beyond Smith, a 21 yard completion to Tommy Bohanon on a 3rd and 7 was a nice example of the play-calling and design talents of Marty Mornhinweg. The Jets use a unique formation here, moving up the running backs (where they began the play lined up) into H-Back spots, tight to the formation in the slot. This alignment allows Bohanon to chip block to help with protection and then leak to the flat more quickly than he’d be able to if he was in a traditional fullback spot.


Bohanon does a very good job of waiting until Tampa’s middle linebacker picks up a head of steam, vacating the flat completely, before releasing from his block. He is wide open and easily picks up the first down and plenty more. This is a well-designed blitz-beater from Mornhinweg, something the Jets lacked last season, and it was executed perfectly by a pair of rookies in Smith and Bohanon.


Finally, a few words on the New York Jets receivers: Stephen Hill played tough and physical, while being a strong presence in the short passing game. However, his route running still needs refinement. In the image below, he is working to create separation on a curl route and is too easily engaged with the cornerback. Hill had 6 receptions for 39 yards, an alarmingly low yards per catch for a wide receiver. He still isn’t using his speed to his advantage when running routes, even in the shorter passing game.


Santonio Holmes is clearly not 100% yet. He struggled to gain separation throughout the day on his routes. It is going to take him time to get back into regular form. Jeremy Kerley was his usual effective self in the slot but unfortunately will not play this week due to a concussion. Look for more Ryan Spadola this week, who only saw limited action against Tampa Bay.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports

  • Jetsluva

    AWESOME!!! I actually have been waiting for your TOTJ breakdowns on the Jets 1st game. As always this is great stuff. I love this kind of detailed info. Please keep up the good work.

    There were some good signs from the 1st game. Gotta hope Geno and the young Jets learn from that and can be even better next game.

  • Pete

    Good stuff

  • KAsh

    Getting the win is nice and I would probably be much harder on Geno otherwise. He played much better than he did against the Giants, though that could be because Marty eliminated the plays he struggled with in that game. 256 yds total and a completion percentage over 60% is a nice debut.

    I would like him to stop staring down his receivers. I feel that his problems start from there. If he did not stare down his receivers, the defense would not be clued in on the play, his receivers would get more separation, he would have more open receivers and need to hold the ball less before they get open. This would also cause fewer throws into tight windows, but he still avoids those anyway (which I dislike, but there are larger fish to fry). Like Joe said in an earlier tweet, Geno needs to play more aggressively. Also, running backwards is always a bad idea for a QB. But that should all come later.

    The number one thing right now should be getting the running game going. Assuming we are physically able to, this should be easier and of more benefit that relying on Geno even more. If we could get Ivory and Powell to average 4yds a carry, often put us in short yardage situations, and sometimes break off for long runs, then that would keep our offense on the field for longer drives, give Geno a chance to start clicking, and keep us competitive in most games.

  • David

    If you look at the pass blocking some interesting data points. Overall the OL looks good on most of these images. ducasse does not look like a weak link. Geno’s strip sack was with max protect 7 blockers, 6 rushers. More than likely heavy stunting by the DL as blockers seem out of position.

  • Good read. I think you can’t base your judgment on a preseason game. Like so much of these so called football experts have done.

  • John X

    These are all good indicators with some correctable issues. What is so promising is that the Bucs were so good at stopping the run yet Geno kept poise and still had success. I don’t believe he will face a better defense this year.

  • Mark Phelan

    I was impressed by Smith – did not seem him in WV. He has strong arm, also good touch, and can decide quickly when to scoot.

    There were a few times Smith threw to an empty spot leading the receiver. Can’t remember seeing this in a long time!

    I don’t think there was one long, downfield pass Sunday. We will need a few attempts to keep things loose.