The New York Jets passing game was an unmitigated disaster in week 12 against the Baltimore Ravens. After going through the tape, this was a unit wide failure that likely trickles down from Rex Ryan’s input to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and includes unsteady play from the quarterback, offensive line, tight ends, running backs and wide receivers. It is easy to immediately assess the bulk of the blame on Smith at quarterback and while he did not play well this past Sunday and hasn’t played well the past month, the tape tells a much more complex story. Let’s work through Smith’s dropbacks and see what we find:
Dropback #1 – Ironically, the Jets most successful passing play of the game. They dialed up a simple play action rollout for Smith, with tight end Jeff Cumberland in the flats and wide receiver Greg Salas working across the middle. Smith delivered an on-point pass and hit Salas (squared in yellow) for a 18 yard gain.
Dropback #2 – 2nd and goal from the 9 yard line. The Jets split out two wide receivers to the left and had tight ends Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow frontside as the primary targets. From the end-zone camera, we can see they are both completely smothered by the Ravens defense. WInslow is circled in yellow with a defender on his hip and he is running a route right into a second defender. Cumberland is right behind and blanketed.
On the sky view, you can see all of Smith’s options after he sets his feet on his third step and is flushed to the right. Unless he throws all way back across his body to the running back in the flats (never a good idea) – there is nowhere to go with the football. He scrambles to the right and throws it out of the end-zone.
Dropback #3 – 3rd and goal from the 9 yard line. The only open option is Bilal Powell in the flats at about the 5 yard line, as you can see every other receiver or tight end is blanketed. Smith attempts to throw to Powell but the ball slips out of his hands and the pass is incomplete. If Powell did catch the ball, it is unlikely he would have scored regardless.
Dropback #4 – This is the pocket as Geno sets his feet on his third step. As you can see, he is under immense pressure. He was lucky to scramble away for a 5 yard gain here. You can also see how the tight end and wide receiver in the frame haven’t had the chance to make the break on their routes yet before Smith is nearly swallowed up by the Ravens defense.
Dropback #5 – Smith rolls to his right and is again presented with a lack of options on where to throw the football. This was a curious formation as the Jets initially came out in a wishbone featuring Zach Sudfeld, Tommy Bohanon and Chris Ivory. Jeff Cumberland is also over the top on this play but is well covered. Smith scrambled forward and threw an incompletion here that was called back because he was over the line of scrimmage.
Dropback #6 – Geno is about to set his feet but tight end Jeff Cumberland has decided to whiff on his block. Sack.
Dropback #7 – Drop by David Nelson. This could have been 8-10 yards on first down.
Dropback #8 – The Ravens easily sniff out an attempted screen to Bilal Powell.
Dropback #9 – Despite some pressure in his face, you’d like to see Geno attempt to drop in this pass to Kellen Winslow Jr over the middle of the field. He ended up scrambling right and throwing a short completion to Bilal Powell.
Dropback #10 – Drop by Santonio Holmes. The pass was a bit high but still very catchable. This could have been a 10-15 yard gain if caught.
Now it is halftime and the Jets are down 9-3. Smith was given 10 dropbacks in the first half. On those 10 dropbacks, there were 2 drops, 1 sack, 1 forced scramble due to immense pressure and 1 forced throwaway due to a lack of open receivers. There were two penalties, including illegal man downfield on a sniffed out screen and an illegal forward pass from Smith, on a play where there no open receivers. There was a quality 18 yard completion, a checkdown completion when Smith probably should have pushed the ball down the field and an incompletion in the flats on a play that wasn’t going anywhere regardless.
What could any quarterback do with those 10 dropbacks? By my count, there were 3 plays that Smith did something remotely negative. He committed an illegal forward pass when he could have ran for 3-5 yards, he threw an incompletion on what would have been a 4-5 yard gain and was too conservative on one passing play. There isn’t much room for any immense improvement, especially if you consider many quarterbacks wouldn’t have had his 5 yard scramble on dropback #4 and would have been sacked instead. Smith received little to no help from his supporting cast this half. In the second half, it appears Smith came out with a little less confidence and his play declined.
Dropback #11 – Smith makes a poor read and attempts to force a pass to David Nelson on 3rd and 6, which is nearly intercepted. The route combinations here remain very conservative.
Dropback #12 – Smith rolls out and hits Santonio Holmes for a 12 yard gain. He could have probably ran for 10-15 yards here as well.
Dropback #13 – 3rd down. Smith faces immense pressure and delivers a perfectly thrown pass to Jeff Cumberland, who drops the ball, killing a Jets drive right around midfield.
Dropback #14 – Smith takes a big hit (and an uncalled late hit) from Terell Suggs and hits Cumberland for a 9 yard gain.
Dropback #15 – Smith dials up a deep shot for David Nelson on 3rd and long. This ball is underthrown and is intercepted. There is nothing wrong with giving your receiver a chance to make a play but this ball needs to be thrown better.
The score is now 19-3 as the game enters the 4th quarter.
Dropback #16 – Dropped deep ball from Santonio Holmes. This would have been a 25-30 yard gain.
Dropback #17 – Smith is bulldozed for a 3rd down sack, where he doesn’t even have time to set his feet.
By the time the Jets get the ball back, it is firmly in garbage time. He throws two decent looking downfield completions and then a poor red-zone interception, where he failed to look off the coverage in the final minutes.
On the whole, not a good game from Smith. However, an equally poor game from the Jets receivers and tight ends. The receivers cannot create separation and are dropping passes all over the field. Cumberland had a brutal game both blocking and as a receiver. Finally, the offensive line was inconsistent at best.
This was also an ultra conservative game plan from Marty Mornhinweg, particularly in the first half. Earlier in the year, Morhinweg did a better job of attacking vertically and utilizing route combinations that Smith thrived with a West Virginia. The game plan against the Ravens was right out of the Tony Sparano playbook. Has Rex been in his ear?