New York Jets Playbook – Intermediate Crossing Pattern

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Welcome to a new series at Turn On The Jets called “New York Jets Playbook.” In this series, we are going to look at a successful play out of the Marty Mornhinweg or Rex Ryan playbook from last season and explain why it worked, in the hope that we will see similar production on similar plays next season. Here are links to previous editions: Bunch Levels. Zone Read.

Today we look at Geno Smith hitting Jeff Cumberland for a 35 yard gain against the Carolina Panthers in week 15.

The View (Television, Sky Cam, Rear Cam)

The Play

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Personnel: One running back (Bilal Powell, to the left of Geno Smith in the shotgun). One tight end (Jeff Cumberland, who is the up receiver in the stack to Geno’s right). Three wide receivers (David Nelson, who motions across the formation and out wide to the right, Santonio Holmes who is backside alone and Jeremy Kerley who is stacked behind Cumberland).

Pre-Snap Activity: Nelson motions across the formation from the tight slot on the left side to out wide on the right.

Routes:

  • Holmes – Backside “go” route – He attacks vertically at the outside shoulder of the cornerback. Effectively a clear out on this play.
  • Nelson – Frontside “go” route – He attacks vertically at the the outside shoulder of the cornerback, although he does bend in towards the end route, so this may have been a skinny post. Regardless, this is effectively a clear out on this play.
  • Kerley – A “whip” or “pivot” route. He releases up the field, plants with his inside foot and works to the outside, while facing the quarterback. On this play he pivots at roughly 6 yards.
  • Cumberland – A 10 yard in-cut, where he does a nice job of sitting in the open window instead of continuing across the field horizontally.

The Progression

The Jets come out with tight twins on each side of the formation. Carolina appears to be showing a standard 4-3, Cover 2 look in response.

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The Jets send David Nelson in motion across the formation. He is followed by Captain Munnerlyn (#41, who is the player at the 40 yard line who doesn’t have an arrow attached to his circle). Munnerlyn lines up over the frontside stack of receivers and Carolina’s cornerback on the right side of the formation bumps out wide to line up over Nelson. Simultaneously, Carolina sends their weakside safety and linebacker on a blitz (both circled with arrows). Interestingly, defensive end Charles Johnson (who is circled and lined up directly over Cumberland) drops into coverage instead of rushing the passer.

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The Panthers have sent five after the quarterback. They are playing cover three over the top with Munnerlyn, Johnson and Luke Kuechly playing coverage underneath. Kuechly is patrolling the middle of the field at the 44 yard line. Johnson is running with Kerley, while Munnerlyn is squatting on Kerley’s route as well. It isn’t a surprise that Kerley is receiving an extra focus from the Panthers defense, considering it was 3rd and 7 and that Kerley is easily the team’s most frequent target in this situation. Cumberland gets a clean release and continues to push vertically up the field.

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Geno Smith is flushed to the right in the pocket but steps up and re-sets his feet. He is clearly eying down Kerley, which holds Johnson to Kerley’s left and likely has Munnerlyn thinking he is about to step in front of a Smith pass for a pick six. Kuechly also starts to have his momentum carry him towards Kerley.

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Smith smartly looks away from Kerley and trusts Jeff Cumberland to continue on his route across the formation. As he releasing the ball, Cumberland is still behind Kuechly but Geno throws to where Cumberland will be, not where he is and he does this while being about to take a large hit.

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Kuechly is caught out of place and Smith puts the pass where Cumberland can catch the football and turn up field for a huge run after the catch. First down Jets.

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A few things to highlight here: This was a nice play design by Marty Mornhinweg to play off of defenses shifting their focus to Kerley on third downs, as he basically serves as a decoy for Cumberland to work from. Second, Smith shows progress here but not forcing the ball into Kerley. He hangs in the pocket, goes through his progressions and finds the open man for a big gain. Third, the Jets offensive line does a good job here, particularly since they had to deal with a weakside blitz.