New York Jets Defensive Snap Count – Analysis and Previewing Week 7

Mike O’Connor breaks down the New York Jets defensive snap counts and alignments to help preview week 7

Due to Rex Ryan’s complicated defensive schemes that sometimes put players in positions they’re not fully accustomed to, I decided to also note where New York Jets players were lining up, along with tallying their snap count.  For example, I notched down what “techniques” defensive lineman were lined up in, if safeties were playing on the deeper level or in the front seven’s box, and whether corners took snaps covering the outside or the slot.

Here is the link to the snap counts. Some things to note.

– The techniques, if you don’t understand them, go as follows: the zero technique is lined up directly over the opponents’ center, the one technique is between the center and the guard, and it continues like so.

– When I marked a safety down as playing “deep” on the play, it doesn’t exactly mean he played a single high safety role that would typically be labeled as a deep safety. For organizational purposes, however, I gave a safety a “deep” tally if he wasn’t in the box.

– I didn’t take down particular line-ups for any linebackers outside of Quinton Coples, because they don’t do much moving around.

It was a bit surprising and almost frustrating to see Antonio Cromartie receive all the snaps available. After coming off his mid-week practice knee injury, he certainly should have seen a cut in his snaps, even if that meant Kyle Wilson or Ellis Lankster would have played significant snaps. Cromartie wasn’t healthy enough to play, and it showed. This has become a pattern this season with his health, and in turn: Rex Ryan’s refusal to aid him with a smaller snap count.

After Jaiquawn Jarrett saw nearly every snap as the starting free safety versus the Falcons, it was odd to see things return back to normal so quickly with Antonio Allen starting again. Believe me, though, I’m not complaining.  Allen played an excellent game, but that’s a conversation for another article. What’s to take note of here is Allen’s role becoming even more clear. Nearly half of Allen’s snaps took place in the defensive box, where he is most effective in making reads and stopping the run game. It’s nice to see Rex Ryan not try and make Allen into something he’s not: a coverage safety.

From just watching the games this year without counting snaps, I would have never guessed that Calvin Pace has been getting so many snaps. Pace obviously plays a whole lot on probable run downs, but he stayed in the game often on passing downs with Antwan Barnes no longer available. It’s not like he wasn’t effective, actually, he was. I simply assumed Rex Ryan would prefer the likes of Garrett McIntyre rushing the passer. It appears that Rex might have some new-found trust in Pace as a pass rusher, and I somehow find myself not blaming him. Pace was pretty solid.

The controversy of Quinton Coples and his position is an interesting one, but this game offered little reassurance to whether Rex Ryan will use him more as a true outside linebacker or a defensive lineman in the future. Aside from two stray snaps that he split as a 3-tech rusher and a true outside linebacker (standing up on the edge), he saw all of his snaps from the perspective as a rusher with a hand in the dirt, rushing from the 5-tech or even further out. This does little to help the case of where he stands position wise, because all we can do is label him as an edge defender. When he gets healthier and starts to play nearly the whole game, we should have a much better indication.

Charting where Muhammad Wilkerson takes his snaps from is quite a adventure. The stud saw looks at a pure nose tackle, a defensive tackle, and an edge rusher. When he saw this variety of snaps is where the patterns emerge, however.

On first down, Wilkerson set the edge from the 5-tech nearly half of the time. This contradicts what some would think. As one of the Jets’ best players, you’d think that he would be utilized inside to stuff the run on first down, when the run is most predictable. Even more confusing is how Wilkerson typically slid back inside on second down (exactly half the time, actually). To round it off, Wilkerson was utilized everywhere on third downs. Yet, third down is also when he saw more snaps at nose tackle than first and second down combined. Rex Ryan’s reasoning for this is likely to place his most versatile pass rusher versus the heart of the opponents’ offensive line so he can effectively hold a strong point of attack, while still supplying good chances that he can apply pressure himself if he can beat a likely double team.

Stemming off of the oddities of Wilkerson’s snaps, Sheldon Richardson saw almost no variety on the defensive line in regards to where he lined up, which is weird for him, being such an athletic player and all. Richardson played almost solely as a 3-tech defensive tackle all game, despite the fact that he’s seen success rushing the edge and many (including me) preferred him there coming out of Missouri last spring. This is a telling tale of how much Rex Ryan and company value Richardson’s efficient play versus the opposing run game.  t not only gives them the flexibility to move Wilkerson everywhere to their expense, but it also allows them to not feel obligated to play a stout nose tackle on passing downs in case the opposing offense looks to run.

Seeing Leger Douzable play as both a defensive tackle and as a 5-tech edge penetrator was extremely encouraging. Being the first man off the bench when the defensive line goes through its rotations,Douzable needs to have plenty of versatility to match up with the starters’ versatility, and he’s provided that while looking exceptional at the same time.

It’s evident how much Rex Ryan loves Garrett McIntyre’s strength when holding the edge, as he played 67% of the Jets’ first down snaps when he only charted 51% of snaps overall. McIntyre is finding a lot of chances to play with Coples still nursing his bum ankle and the stiffness on the edge that comes with it. Yet predictably, McIntyre’s third down snaps (only 17%) don’t come as opportunistic, even with Coples ailing.

You may find it peculiar that Isaiah Trufant played more as the slot cornerback than Kyle Wilson, the usual, but don’t. Keep in mind that Wilson suffered a concussion in the third quarter, which held him out for the rest of the game, of course, therefore giving Trufant many spare snaps. I wouldn’t think much of this besides the fact that Trufant will obviously man the slot when Wilson probably misses this weekend’s game.

What will we see this Sunday?

1) Though some might think we will see Jarrett take over again for Allen at free safety due to a pass heavy offense, I don’t necessarily think so. Neither Allen or Jarrett are very adequate safeties in coverage, and Jarrett might have the slight edge downfield with his quickness in closing and swivel. However, Tom Brady doesn’t play the Jets with a vertical offense like Jarrett saw when he started versus the Falcons.

Rex Ryan plays Brady and the Pats’ offense with a consistently twist to his usual defense. Since Brady dumps the ball to well, anybody, Rex has his defense play to keep the game mainly in front of them. This is where Allen can keep up with Jarrett in coverage and maybe even be an upgrade. Without having to turn his hips in coverage much, Allen can close on the ball and hit, and that’s where he’ll get by. I think we’ll see him keep his starting job.

2) It was a first this season when Rex Ryan trotted out both Damon Harrison and Kenrick Ellis at the same time for multiple snaps in a series versus the Steelers. The Jets did this in their base 3-4 defense, meaning one of them would have to play the 3-tech defensive end.  I believe we’ll see more of this against the Patriots on Sunday.  his type of defensive front may sacrifice athleticism and possible explosive plays from the front when stopping the run, but it will surely add overall stability. With Stevan Ridley coming back strong, the Jets will need an impenetrable defensive front, especially considering that the Jets will rarely be able to add defenders to the box with Tom Brady’s arm so threatening.

3)  Judging off of last week’s snaps, it’s difficult to see where the returning rookie Dee Milliner fits in. Cromartie may be playing at a horrendous level, but Rex Ryan isn’t gutsy enough to do anything about it. Darrin Walls matches up very well versus the Patriots’ outside receivers, so he’ll start no matter how much Rex wants Milliner to play. In the end, it looks like Milliner will play a fourth corner role, because it’s hard to imagine him unseating Isaiah Trufant as the nickel corner in the slot, even if he didn’t play well versus the Steelers. Milliner isn’t an ideal fit versus Julian Edelman and Josh Boyce in the slot, and he’s even less appealing coming off of extended time lost due to injury