We are back with another TOJ New York Jets film breakdown. Check out previous editions right here. On to the #tape…
Versatility makes everything better
Todd Bowles only played two linebackers more than 50% of the snaps on Sunday, as the role of the team’s outside linebackers (Jordan Jenkins, Josh Martin, etc) were minimized. On the other hand, he played three corners over 50 snaps and three safeties at least 31 snaps. The Jets base formation is arguably now a traditional nickel with an extra safety replacing a linebacker, so three corners, three safeties, two linebackers and three defensive linemen. This makes sense considering their personnel. It is able to be executed because of the versatility of Jamal Adams, who can play strong safety, free safety, outside linebacker and slot corner. He has become the Jets version of the Honey Badger (despite remaining a very unique player…not looking for beef, Jamal).
Early in the game, Adams shadows the tight end in a de facto strong side outside linebacker role. He attacks the line of scrimmage after recognizing the stretch handoff, engages the blocker and easily sheds him to drop Jay Ajayi for a short loss. It is fair to argue that as of now, Adams isn’t only the team’s best safety but their best outside linebacker.
Later in the half, Adams is playing a traditional free safety role in a two high look. He shows off his range by making an incredible break on the ball and knocking it away out of bounds. The amount of ground covered here is staggering for a player who is also comfortable playing in the box.
Finally, on the next play Adams is back in the box, blitzing off the edge on an inside twist stunt. He takes on an offensive tackle, sheds him and tracks Jay Cutler for the sack. On back to back plays, Adams went from playing 40 yards off the ball on DaVante Parker to engaging an offensive tackle on an inside blitz stunt.
How to score a touchdown
The New York Jets broke the game open against Miami thanks to a picture perfect touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Robby Anderson. How did this moment of offensive excellence occur?
Miami was stacking the box the entire first half against the Jets. Here is their defensive alignment on the play before the touchdown. Cover 1 with ten players in the box AKA “we are daring you to throw the ball deep, old man.”
On 2nd and long, the Dolphins show the same look. Cover 1 with ten in the box, with their one high safety shaded to Jermaine Kerase’s side of the field (the back side, X receiver). Robby Anderson is the frontside flanker (Z receiver) and completely isolated on Alterraun Verner, who had just checked into the game for the first time.
The Jets go four verticals and despite not getting an outside release, Anderson is fast enough to get back on his route stem and stay down the bottom of the numbers to keep proper spacing. McCown recognizes early that Anderson has a step and is the proper read against a one high look and lets a perfect pass fly for the touchdown. This is good, smart aggressive play calling and defensive recognition from the quarterback, along with Anderson playing to his strengths.
The New York Jets offensive line has been a pleasant surprise through three games. They continued to hold up relatively well against the Dolphins. This doesn’t mean there haven’t been a few growing pains that could potentially be problematic, especially with arguably the best defensive front seven through three weeks coming to town next week.
On the Jets first drive, second year right tackle Brandon Shell is overwhelmed by Cameron Wake’s speed off the edge, leading to a huge loss on the sack. Shell doesn’t get his hands up fast enough or set his base, allowing Wake to easily blow by him.
Later in the game, Shell struggles in a similar way, forcing McCown up into the pocket where Dakota Dozier is unable to hold his block, leading to another sack.
Matt Forte touches have quickly become tranquilizer darts for the Jets offense. Any type of momentum being gathered is immediately shot in the neck with a handoff or short pass to him. Forte has clearly slowed down and is now dealing with a toe injury. The Jets offense simply operates at a different speed when they have Bilal Powell or Elijah McGuire in the backfield. Look at the difference on these insides runs between McGuire and Forte, who appears increasingly hesitant and tentative in the hole.
Forte has also lost his ability to stretch anything outside of the A or B gap. On these types of plays, his lack of decisiveness combine with his declining speed is too much to overcome.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com