The Turn On The Jets film room is back to break down the New York Jets passing game in their 27-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Today we focus on the team’s success with the deep ball as Geno Smith connected on four passes of 40 yards or longer, two to Stephen Hill and two to Santonio Holmes. Let’s go to the tape and see how the Jets successfully executed these big plays.
Play 1 – 45 Yard Completion to Stephen Hill
On the third play of the game, Geno Smith hit Stephen Hill for a 45 yard gain. The Jets came out in shotgun with split backs and Hill split out right, Jeremy Kerley in the slot and Santonio Holmes backside. Ironically, all four of the Jets 40+ yard passing plays came from this formation and personnel grouping. They all also came picking on the same corner, Buffalo’s Justin Rogers.
Hill ran a deep seven route, which is a post-corner. Basically, he pushes vertically up the field for 10-12 yards, breaks to the post for 2-3 yards and then snaps back to the corner route, ideally after breaking the corner’s leverage. This route requires very good agility and a hard sell on the post route. In the slot, Kerley runs a deep in-cut to help occupy the safety. Holmes runs a backside post. Notice Hill selling the post at the 35 yard line and Kerley getting ready to make his break inside at about the 32.
Hill successfully spins Rogers around when he plants to head towards the corner and comes wide open at 40 yard line. The safety over the top is held momentarily by Kerley’s in-cut, as you can see him frozen at the 40 and too far inside to help with Hill.
Geno Smith actually under-throws a wide open Hill here, forcing him to come to a complete stop to make the catch. If Geno had put the ball out in front of him, this is easily a 77 yard touchdown. Look how far behind the defense Hill gets himself. Terrific route. Not a great throw but still enough to pick up 45 yards on the 3rd play of the game.
Play 2 – 51 Yard Touchdown Pass To Stephen Hill
The Jets are in the same formation they hit their previous big play on, with Hill and Kerley frontside and Holmes backside, Smith in the shotgun and split backs. They run all verticals here, with Hill and Holmes releasing down the sideline on 9 routes (basically take off deep down the sideline with an outside release) and Kerley running vertical up the seam.
Geno Smith takes three steps and lets it fly down the sideline to Hill who has beat his man (Rogers…surprise, surprise). He delivers a perfect pass despite taking a huge hit while releasing the ball.
Hill has beat his man but was widened to the sideline a little bit. Smith trusts his route running ability and lays the ball out with the assumption that Hill will effectively stack the corner after running by him.
What I mean by stacking is that on a vertical route like this, Hill needs to work back on to his original path after being widened to the sideline by the corner’s coverage. Instead of staying near the sideline and making the quarterback’s window to throw the ball smaller than it needs to be, he needs to work back inside after running by his man and have the corner directly behind him, where he is no position to make a play on the ball. Hill does just that. Touchdown Jets. A great route, ran with veteran savvy and a perfect throw from a quarterback under pressure.
Play 3 - 40 Yard Completion To Santonio Holmes
In the third quarter, the Jets went back to well on the deep seven route they had success with in the first play we highlighted. It is the same formation we have seen in the other two plays but they flipped Santonio Holmes to the frontside to get him matched up with Rogers.
To help further make sure that Holmes would be one on one with Rogers, the Jets send Kerley (in the slot) on an angled vertical route at the safety.
When Holmes breaks out to the corner after selling the post route, Rogers is badly beaten.
Holmes then proceeded to make a ridiculous over the shoulder catch that merits two separate screenshots. This is an immensely difficult play and is very encouraging to see from Holmes who is clearly just about back to 100%.
Play 4 - 69 Yard Touchdown Pass To Santonio Holmes
Finally, the go ahead touchdown. The formation? You guessed it. The same one we saw on the earlier three plays but with Holmes now back to his traditional backside location. Again, Marty Mornhinweg is dialing up the deep ball by sending Holmes and Hill on go routes on the outside. Jeremy Kerley runs a deep in-cut from the slot position.
Notice the deep safety (at the 46 yard line) is hesitant in the middle of the field, helping make sure Holmes remains clearly one on one with Rogers backside, in a match-up the Jets love and Geno is well aware of.
The safety is staying put because Geno Smith is eyeing him down and giving the illusion he is considering throwing the ball to Kerley in the middle of the field.
After looking the safety off, Smith delivers a perfect throw to Holmes. Santonio makes the catch, shakes Rogers’ tackle attempt and finishes off the game winning touchdown.
There is no reason not be encouraged by the Jets deep ball success against Buffalo. Stephen Hill showed strides in his route running. Santonio Holmes looks to be back to 100% healthy. Geno Smith demonstrated his arm strength, accuracy and short memory. However, keep in mind that all four of these plays took advantage of a battered secondary and one very mediocre corner who had a nightmare day. It isn’t always going to come this easily but at least the Jets are playing aggressively on offense and have the playmakers to take advantage of suspect secondaries.