New York Jets Defensive Film Breakdown: Week 13

Chris Gross with his weekly film breakdown of the Jets defensive performance, looking at how they shut down Arizona

Although it has become an afterthought in the wake of the earth shattering move that replaced the embattled Mark Sanchez with second year pro Greg McElroy this past Sunday, the New York Jets actually provided what was arguably their best defensive effort of the season. While this assertion must certainly be taken with a grain of salt due to the unbelievably poor quality of offensive play from the Arizona Cardinals, there are still several reasons to be excited about what the Jets did last week. Is Ryan Lindley the worst quarterback to start an NFL game this year (and possibly ever)? Yes, probably. However, New York’s defensive performance during this contest goes far beyond the offensive ineptitude of Arizona.

For this week’s defensive film breakdown, we will format this column as we normally do — top performers, individual defensive line play, and positional breakdowns of the linebackers and secondary. However, this week we will highlight the obvious signs of progress from within this unit as we move into the final month of the season.

Week 13 Top Defensive Performers:

Muhammad Wilkerson, DE: No surprises here. Wilkerson has been playing at a high level all season, and is finally beginning to get some of the recognition that he deserves. In Arizona’s first few offensive series, the game plan was obvious — do whatever it takes to neutralize number 96. The film repeatedly shows the offensive line adjusting their line calls and blocking schemes, whether it was a run or pass play, to provide extra help to whichever side of the line Wilkerson was lined up on. On passing downs, if Wilkerson was at a 1 or 3 technique, the center opened toward the second year defensive end 100% of the time. If Wilkerson was at the 5 technique, or on the edge, a tight end or back would stay in to provide help, with the guard to that side also offering assistance with an unoccupied gap over him. If it were a run play, Wilkerson would simply be doubled, or the ball would be run away from him. Throughout the first half of this game, there was not a single play that Wilkerson was unaccounted for. Credit the Cardinals coaching staff for drawing up their game plan based solely around avoiding the Jets best defensive player in the front 7.

Although much attention was paid to Wilkerson, the Cardinals could only hold him off for so long. Wilkerson has been developing an excellent knack for defending the double team, something he has likely been working on all season long with defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, as the mounting double teams have become a surplus this year. Wilkerson’s block recognition has become flawless. On film, he displays excellent instincts to get a pre-snap read on the opposing offensive lineman by noticing “tells” in their stances and the overall offensive formation. He always seems to be one step ahead of who he is lined up against, and that reveals a lot about, not only his knowledge of the game, but the amount of time he puts in in the film room as well.

What really stood out about Wilkerson from this past Sunday was his recovery ability. As excellent as he is in getting these pre-snap reads, there are still some plays where he makes a mental error by taking the wrong step, or peeking his head in the wrong area. In these few cases, Wilkerson displayed a tremendous ability recover from his own mistakes. If he was beat to the outside on a reach block, he screamed to the sideline to regain his outside leverage. If he got hit on a down block, he quickly fought across the opposing offensive lineman’s face to maintain his position.

Simply put, Wilkerson has tremendous physical ability, but his intellect for the game is what is beginning to carry him to the next level. In the few instances where the Cardinals would attempt to block him with only one player, Wilkerson caused havoc. In these cases, he stopped two running plays for minimal or no gain, and recorded a sack. He is an obvious mismatch when offensive lineman attempt to go on an island with him. Combine that with his developing ability to beat double teams, and Wilkerson is becoming a nightmare for the offensive lines he is facing.

Antonio Cromartie, CB: Again, no surprise here. Cromartie held one of the league’s best wide receivers to just one reception for 23 yards, a play that he actually maintained decent coverage on, but was beaten by a tremendous catch from Larry Fitzgerald, combined with what was actually a very good throw from Arizona quarterback Ryan Lindley (realistically, his only one of the contest). Following his sole reception, Fitzgerald was targeted only 6 more times throughout the entire day. By the middle of the second half, Lindley hardly bothered to look his way. Cromartie was on him like white on rice, regardless of the type of route it was. This has been a tremendous year for Cromartie, who has elevated his play to the elite level of NFL defensive backs in the absence of Darrelle Revis. At this point, it is a complete toss up between Cromartie and Wilkerson for this team’s MVP.

Bart Scott, LB: Scott played what was, without a doubt, his best game in the past year and a half. Looking beyond his impressive stat line of 5 tackles, 2 QB hits, and a sack, Scott played extremely fast and aggressive, asserting himself as a player that the entire Arizona Cardinals offense, particularly Lindley, wanted no part of. His reads were incredibly fast, and his reaction time was even faster. Scott came down hill very aggressively all game, and took on lead blockers the way he did when he first became a Jet back in 2009. There were multiple plays where he blew up the leading fullback or wrapping offensive lineman, allowing himself to either make the play on the ball carrier, or freeing up another defender to make the tackle. Combined with his rediscovered swagger, the chip on his shoulder that Scott played with this past week was a microcosm of the entire Jets defensive unit.

LaRon Landry, S: It is difficult to believe anything that Head Coach Rex Ryan says these days, however his claim that Landry played like a heat seeking missile is 100% accurate. Landry was all over the field this past Sunday in both coverage and in the box, defending the run. His interception was a great display of athleticism, and route recognition. Lined up in the center field role, Landry went through his normal coverage progressions, recognized the receiver running a seam route in front of him, and jumped it with perfect timing, taking the ball away before Lindley even realized what was going on. When lined up in the box, Landry was a pure mismatch. Tight ends and receivers lined up close to the line of scrimmage had virtually no chance of blocking him throughout the entire game, as he relentlessly displayed quickness in his hand strikes with impressive strength to rid anyone who attempted to get in his way, while defending the run. In a year of turmoil for Mike Tannenbaum, this is one personnel decision that the embattled GM got right. The Jets would be wise to lock Landry up for the future.

Rex Ryan and the Defensive coaching staff: Again, while the task of game planning for Arizona wasn’t quite the challenge of defending a team like New England, the Cardinals are still an NFL offense with very capable weapons. Ryan’s schematics and in-game adjustments were simply brilliant this past Sunday. Using a surplus of amoeba packages (more on this coming later in the week), Ryan took advantage of Arizona’s rookie quarterback by mixing up the fronts and disguising blitzes and coverage that made Lindley visibly uncomfortable. When Ryan realized Arizona’s plan to shift their passing protection toward Wilkerson, he exploited them. On Bart Scott and David Harris’s combined sack in the second half, Wilkerson was lined up at the 3 technique, with Pace to his left, and two other defenders on the right side of the line. At the snap of the ball, the offensive line again shifted the protection toward Wilkerson, with the center opening up toward him. Realizing the gap that this created in the middle of the line, Ryan and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine, sent an inside blitz of Harris and Scott, who timed it perfectly. The guard was forced to pick one of them (Scott) to attempt to block, leaving the other (Harris) with a clear path to the quarterback. Scott beat the attempted block anyway, and the play resulted in a sack of Lindley and a 9 yard loss. Ryan has come under criticism as a head coach this season, but in terms of his defensive mind, he is without question among the best in the NFL.

The overall play of the defense was also a direct reflection of Ryan. The unit played with a obvious sense of resentment toward all of its detractors, displaying the angered attitude that it had played with in the early years of the Ryan era. Give credit to Rex for this. He had his guys motivated, prepared, and ready to make a statement this past week, and that is exactly what they did. Ryan Lindley was so shook by the 4th quarter that he began to badly rush his throws, as he clearly wanted no part of any further contact. Ryan’s goal was the rattle the rookie 6th round draft choice, and he succeeded with the best defensive effort of the season. Well done, Rex.

Defensive Line

Mike DeVito: There cannot be enough said about the value of DeVito’s relentless play and leadership. The veteran defensive tackle has remained a stalwart against the run all season, and continuously occupies blockers the way a player in his position is meant to in this scheme. His motor is above and beyond the majority of players you will see in this league, as displayed by his tenacious play and menacing pursuit. Although he provides little help in the pass rush, DeVito is a staple of this front, one that cannot afford to be lost when he hits free agency this offseason.

Sione Pouha: We’ve been saying this all season, but Pouha is visibly not at full health. Sunday was basically a microcosm of how he has played all season long. On some plays, he seems to have difficulty getting into his stance, as he looks very tight in his bend, making him visibly uncomfortable. When he shows this, he has difficulty getting off the ball, allowing himself to easily be blocked or driven back. Conversely, there are also plays where he looks loose and comfortable in his stance, and this is when he displays the explosion and strength that Jets fans have become accustomed to. When he can get off the ball in a ferocious manner, he commands multiple blockers at all times, and because of this, the entire front seven has one less opponent to worry about, allowing the linebackers and ends to be put in optimal situations. The entire unit is better when Pouha plays well, but unfortunately these plays are becoming few and far between due to his lingering back issue. To his credit, Pouha realizes the lack of depth behind him, with second year NT Kenrick Ellis also nursing an injury, and rigorously fights through his pain and discomfort. Pouha, like DeVito, is a player whose work ethic and leadership cannot be valued enough.

Quinton Coples: Coples played in just 19 snaps this past week, which is the only eyebrow raising decision by the coaching staff, considering the vast potential he has shown. However, in his limited reps Coples displayed a bit of up and down play. He seems to still be coming into his own, trying to find his niche in the defense this season. Like Wilkerson, the Jets like to use Coples’ versatility by aligning him everywhere along the defensive front. Once he begins to become more and more comfortable, Coples will be a force on this line with Wilkerson, as he has all of the tools (speed, strength, agility, explosiveness), and size to be a dominant defensive end in this league. It seems as though the coaching staff is taking their time in developing Coples, which is seemingly the correct move, particularly with how late in the season it is (remember he is a rookie), but the little things he is picking up on are going to help him become that dominant force next season, and in the seasons that follow.

Kenrick Ellis: Ellis also played limited reps, as he appeared to pull up with some type of injury in the second half. However, in those limited reps, Ellis displayed the skill set of a very good 3-4 NT. As he does have the tremendous size and strength necessary for the position, he also displayed the agility that could make him a true difference make as he progresses in his career. One particular play that stands out from Sunday’s game was his use of a flat step technique — a technique that allows defensive lineman to lineup in one gap, while shooting another, and not losing any ground in the process — against Arizona’s center. Ellis lined up in the A gap to the center’s left, and displayed agility that he has yet to show this season, as he seamlessly moved across the center’s face, easily getting into the backfield before the center could come close to recovering. When Ellis can get himself healthy, he will be a key to this defense, and will likely begin to take more and more reps from Pouha, before eventually claiming the full time job.

The Linebackers: Along with Scott, this was the most complete game this unit has played all season. Scott’s improved play seemed to inspire David Harris, who also appeared faster and more explosive than he has all year. Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas, although heavily criticized for their lack of pass rushing abilities, still remain the two best outside linebackers on the team by a landslide. While each of these guys played with a relentless motor and undying tenacity, they also proved how effective they are at setting the edge and turning plays outside in. Fans are screaming for these two to be replaced, but it will not happen, nor should it at this point. Yes, neither are effective in rushing the passer, but as every down players, they are by far the best available guys to put on the field right now. DeMario Davis saw very limited reps and still seems to be somewhat uncomfortable and unsure at times. While he needs playing time to gain his comfort and familiarity, it is no secret as to why he did not play much considering how well both Scott and Harris performed.

The Secondary: Like the rest of the defense, this was easily the best the secondary has looked all season. Before the game, I questioned the success the Jets would have if they expected to put Ellis Lankster or Kyle Wilson in man coverage on Michael Floyd, Early Doucet, and Andre Roberts. Well, that is exactly what the Jets did, and each of them rose to the occasion. Outside of Wilson’s poor defensive holding penalty early in the game, there was really only one play where he was out of position — a comeback route by Michael Floyd that was poorly overthrown by Lindley. Wilson has struggled with these types of routes all year, as he seems to have trouble changing direction and opening his hips at times, but on Sunday he made tremendous strides toward improving these flaws. Yeremiah Bell was also all over the place, in both his run and pass defense, and clearly provides a leadership element that the younger players in the defense feed off of. Donnie Fletcher saw extended reps and certainly did not do anything noteworthy in terms of mistakes. This unit displayed excellent pre-snap communication, as displayed through their hand motions and calls based on formations and shifts, while seamlessly mastering switches in assignments on crossing routes designed to create miscommunications in the secondary.

Although this wasn’t a great test, the Jets defense showed that they still have the potential to be a dominant unit in this league. Consistency across the board will be key in these final four games, particularly against San Diego and Buffalo who, despite their struggles, still maintain a surplus of playmaking ability.

 

Turn On The Jets Offensive Film Breakdown – McElroy’s 10 Dropbacks

Breaking down Greg McElroy’s 10 dropbacks in Jets/Cardinals game this past Sunday

We’ve been slacking a bit with our film breakdowns the past few weeks here at TOJ, so we are hitting you with a double dose in the next 24 hours. In this article, I will look at all of Greg McElroy’s dropbacks from his first NFL action this past Sunday. Chris Gross will also provide his regular terrific defensive film breakdown shortly after.

On to McElroy…

1. 2nd and 6 at ARZ 43 yard line – Incomplete To Stephen Hill – The Jets ran a stop and go on each side of the formation out of a standard 2 wide receiver, one tight end look. Jeremy Kerley was out to the right and Hill was out to the left with Cumberland working over the middle. Pre-snap Kerley faced press coverage from Patrick Peterson and Hill had William Gay playing about 7 yards off him. The Cardinals had a one-high safety look, with three linebackers dropping into coverage in the middle of the field, taking away the deep in-route from Cumberland. McElroy makes the right read here but instead of floating the ball deep, he should have realized that Hill ran a poor route and didn’t trick the corner at all with his hesitation. When he saw Gay running 2 yards out in front of him, he should have thrown the ball on a line to Hill’s back shoulder for what would have been an easy completion. Instead he floats the deep ball, which is nearly intercepted. Good read but bad route from Hill and poor throw from McElroy, although understandable considering it was his first NFL pass.

2. 3rd and 6 at ARZ 43 yard line – 8 yard completion to Stephen Hill – The Jets ran tight twins to each side of the formation with Jeff Cumberland in the slot to the left with Stephen Hill outside him. Hill runs a 8 yard speed out with Cumberland running the flag route from the slot, a common route combination. Chaz Schilens runs a short drag route from the slot on the right side of the formation. McElroy made a smart, decisive read as soon as the corner and safety on Hill’s side backed up a step. He didn’t throw a perfect ball but he put it where Hill could make a play on it, which Hill did…elevating to make a very nice catch as he took a big hit from the corner. Well done all around.

3. 2nd and 7 at ARZ 32 yard line – 3 yard run – Jets ran a standard play-action bootleg with Cumberland as the primary option in the flat and Konrad Reuland dragging across as the secondary option. Both were blanketed from the get-go. McElroy recognized this and showed zero hesitation to tuck the ball away and take-off for a short gain. He also drew a 15 yard penalty for taking a hit out of bounds. It is unfair to compare him to Mark Sanchez with a such a small sample size, but this is a play Sanchez frequently hesitates on (at least in 2012), pumping the ball and either takes a sack or throws it away instead of just taking the short running gain.

4. 3rd and 1 at ARZ 1 yard line – 1 yard touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland – Not much to say here, the Jets completely fooled Arizona on the play-fake and McElroy got a great seal block from Brandon Moore to give him all day on the rollout. He could have ran it in but instead floated it to a completely wide open Jeff Cumberland for a touchdown. Easy.

5. 3rd and 6 at ARZ 35 yard line – 2 yard completion to Kahlil Bell – This was either a poor play-call or poor execution from the Jets wide receivers, as the primary target appeared to be Jeremy Kerley on a short crossing pattern. However, Chaz Schilens also runs a short cross and settles in the middle of the field, clogging up the zone and making it easy for the Arizona linebackers to cover both players. McElroy steps up in the pocket and dumps it off to Bell, who promptly gets hit and fumbles. Considering what the coverage offered, this was the right decision by McElroy and a heady play to swing the ball to Bell instead of trying to run for the first down himself (which he wouldn’t have been able to).

6. 2nd and 11 at NYJ 25 yard line – 5 yard completion to Jeremy Kerley – Another encouraging quick read and throw from McElroy. Kerley ran a speed out from the slot, while Chaz Schilens ran a slant from split end. The linebacker dropped and safety closed, making the window tight for the slant so McElroy hit the speed out…not an easy throw and one that is particularly encouraging considering his reputation for a weak arm. This was also a very nice catch by Kerley.

7. 3rd and 6 at NYJ 30 – Incomplete pass – There was clearly some kind of miscommunication here. McElroy rolls out to the right and all receivers run routes that appear to expect him to roll out to the left (inside receiver out left runs a wheel/stop route, outside right receiver runs drag across the middle) – A safe guess is that McElroy rolled the wrong way but it is impossible to know definitively.

8. 2nd and 7 at ARZ 47 yard line – 4 yard run – The Jets again roll McElroy to the right and he quickly sees his primary options covered up well by the Arizona defense (A Stephen Hill backside drag and a Jeff Cumberland out). He might have been able to throw it quickly to Bilal Powell in the flat but that likely would have resulted in a 4-5 yard gain as well. Considering the coverage, it is hard to fault McElroy’s decision to run here.

9. 3rd and 3 at ARZ 43 yard line – PENALTY – Illegal Contact – We see the good and bad of McElroy on this play and he caught a big break on the illegal contact call which probably shouldn’t have been made. McElroy made a smart protection check pre-snap to bring Jeff Cumberland into the formation to pick-up the outside free rusher. However, after Hill beats the press coverage, McElroy needs to throw the ball on a line before the high safety breaks over the top. He instead floats the ball and it is intercepted. This should have been a big play to Hill. Beyond that, he also has Jeremy Kerley on the backside dig for a big gain.

10. 3rd and 9 at ARZ 37 yard line – 13 yard completion to Jeremy Kerley – The throw of the day from McElroy and the catch of the day from Kerley. They executed a back-shoulder fade against one of the league’s top corners in Patrick Peterson. This required perfect timing and placement from McElroy and a pretty one-handed juggling grab from Kerley. A big-boy conversion in a big-boy spot.

Overall, it was an encouraging debut from McElroy. He wasn’t without his mistakes but considering it was his first NFL action and he received barely any work with the first offense during the week, this was impressive. Before you enshrine him in Canton, remember Mark Sanchez went 18/31 for 272 yards with a TD in his first NFL start.

New York Jets Defensive Film Breakdown: Week 10

A defensive film breakdown of the Jets vs. Seattle with a preview of how they match-up against St. Louis

With 10 weeks and 9 games already in the books for the 2012 New York Jets, the team’s record is extremely reflective of their overall team play. The Jets seem to only play well in stretches, on one side of the ball. This team has struggled mightily in two thirds of the game over the past few weeks. Luckily, we’re here to break down the sole third that has not been an entire disappointment for the better part of this season.

The Jets week 10 defensive effort was actually stellar for the most part of their matchup at Seattle. This unit was forced into some tough spots, field position wise, on multiple occasions throughout this game, and, for the most part, did a fantastic job of not giving up their ground in tough situations. Outside of about 2 possessions through the first three quarters, the defensive play of New York was lights out. Unfortunately, with virtually no support from the offense and special teams, this group was worn out by the fourth quarter, resulting in the inflated score that now shows on the stat sheet.

However, don’t be fooled by the numbers. Defensively, New York played much better than the box score shows. The front seven, particularly the defensive line, was the most impressive unit on the field, among other individuals as well. Rookie Quinton Coples and 2nd year Defensive End Muhammed Wilkerson have not put up monstrous stats thus far, but each of them continue to prove that their worth on this defense is virtually invaluable. Among the two young promising defensive ends, this group as a whole was quite impressive, outside of a few subpar performances and lapses in play.

For this week’s defensive film breakdown, we will highlight the group’s top individual performers, followed by our usual format of breaking down each group as a whole, with an emphasis on the defensive line. We’ll then take a look on what it all means for Sunday’s must-win game in St. Louis.  Lets jump right in.

Week 10 Top Defensive Performers:

Antonio Cromartie, CB: Cromartie continues to assert his dominance since the loss of Darrelle Revis in week 3 to a season ending ACL tear. Coverage wise, the contest in Seattle seemed effortless for Cromartie. When matched up with Golden Tate, the same player who took joy in facing Kyle Wilson, Cromartie was extremely physical and aggressive, not allowing Tate to get off the line easily. On film, Tate’s frustration when lined up across from Cromartie was obvious. While matched up with Sidney Rice, Cromartie was on him like…well, white on rice (see what I did there?). The sole play that Rice was able to get a step on Cromartie, Seattle’s attempted flea flicker, was a fantastic display of the type of athlete Cromartie really is. Trailing by nearly 5 yards, Cromartie demonstrated make up speed that can only be seen when watching a handful of NFL defensive backs. Still, Rice had a chance to make a tremendous catch, but all hope for that was lost thanks to a heads-up, last minute, punch at the ball from Cromartie. The Jets defacto defensive leader also displayed his high level of football intelligence (save the Children’s names jokes, we’re talking about football here), as well as a phenomenal feel for the defense, as he repeatedly sniffed out routes before the ball was even released by Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson, as he abandonded his coverage to jump the route of the would be intended receiver on more than one occassion. It’s hard to think about where this defense would be this season if not for the efforts of Cromartie up until this point.

Quinton Coples, DE: Many casual observers of this team, and league in general, have been deeming Coples as a poor selection by the Jets in last year’s draft simply because he has yet to put up a massive stat line. This assertion could not be farther from the truth. Coples may not be jumping off of the stat sheet just yet, however his play on the interior of the defensive line has been fantastic thus far, and continues to improve week to week. The strongest point in Coples game right now, outside of his pure athleticism, is his growing ability to utilize his length. Coples’ reach is that of defensive stalwart, and the extension he has been getting on opposing offensive lineman is becoming a serious problem for the rookie’s opponents in every game. Also playing with great leverage, Coples’ effective use of his long arms allows him to get excellent separation against the run and pass, giving him the ability to dictate what he wants to do more often than not. The sacks and double-digit tackle games are sure to come down the road, but for now Coples is getting better on the little things — footwork, hand technique, leverage, separation, block recognition, etc.– with every rep he takes. Jets fans should be ecstatic over this selection, as a year or two from now Coples could very well be considered among the NFL’s top defensive lineman, if the trend of improvement continues.

Muhammed Wilkerson, DE: Like Coples, Wilkerson has had his doubters this year, simply because he isn’t putting up monster numbers. However, consider this: Wilkerson is, by far, the best player in the entire Jets front seven this year. Think about what that means for a second. Wilkerson is the best performer in a front 7 that has struggled greatly this season. Do you think that maybe, just maybe, opposing offenses recognize this and circle number 96 on their gameplans every single week. Considering the attention he has drawn, as displayed by the vast amount of double teams he faces on a weekly basis, along with the fact that teams are seemingly sliding their protection toward him on passing downs, it suddenly isn’t very difficult to undertand why Wilkerson isn’t putting up the huge numbers that many were projecting heading into 2012. When taking all of this into account, it is truly impressive that he has still been as productive as he has been. In a recent ranking of the top defensive ends in the NFL, Pro Football Focus put Wilkerson second to only JJ Watt, based on their grading criteria which takes all aspects of defensive line play into account. Wilkerson is the foundation of this front seven, and proved why yet again last Sunday in Seattle, where he proved to be adapting to all of the attention he is getting by effectively separating double teams, recognizing shifts in protection toward him, and playing with an overall confidence that is displayed by only a few on this entire roster. Pair Wilkerson and Coples with a healthy Nose Tackle and an effective pass rushing Outside Linebacker, and all of a sudden people are talking about this Jets defense as having one of the most effective front sevens in all of football.

Mike DeVito, DT: I haven’t been able to say enough about what DeVito brings to this team in terms of motor, energy, and leadership all season long, a trend that continued in Seattle. While DeVito certainly isn’t the flashiest guy you’ll see, he is the prototype for what a blue collared player really is. With a relentless motor, and strong grasp of assignment, DeVito continues to lead through example. We could easily break down the plays in Seattle where he mugged opposing offensive lineman, resulting in a tackle for loss, or for short gain, plus his strip sack, but even that wouldn’t justify DeVito’s overall body of work. He continues to be plugged in all over the line, at the 1, 3, and 5 technique spots, and rarely ever lets down. The 1 technique is probably his weakest position, due to the fact that he does not possess the elite strength and size to consistently battle double teams, however his versatility as an interior lineman, although often overlooked, should not be something viewed as expendable. An impending free agent, DeVito should be offered a new contract by New York following the season. His numbers will likely not break the bank, and one would think he would be fine with a cap friendly deal, so there should be no reason for him to be playing elsewhere next year. That is, of course, unless Mike Tannenbaum continues his trend of letting blue collared veterans with great leadership ability walk out the door (See Jones, Thomas; Richardson, Tony; Faneca, Allen; Ellis, Shaun; Ihedigbo, James; Cotchery, Jerricho; Washington, Leon).

Bart Scott, ILB: You did not misread that. Although he hasn’t been the player he was in 2009 and 2010 for much of the past two season, Bart Scott actually played with a similar level of intensity and aggressiveness that made him such a force during the Jets’ back to back AFC Championship game seasons. Scott looked quicker and more aggressive than he has all year against Seattle, as he displayed the ability to fly downhill, take on lead blockers, and completely stuff any run headed his way. Hell, he even registered a rare sack for a veteran his age, nursing a toe injury, in the loss. Is the Madbacker of old completely back? I don’t think he will ever be. However, the flashes of his former self that were on display last Sunday are surely a sign of encouragement entering the final seven weeks.

Defensive Line:

Sione Pouha – Pouha has clearly not been himself this season, seemingly nursing a back injury that has prevented him from playing with the level of explosion and leverage Jets fans have become accustomed to. However, the Seattle game showed more glimpses of the old Sione than we have seen all season long. He was finally able to show some explosion and strength off of the ball, resulting in him occupying multiple blockers on numerous occasions. This team’s lack of ability to defend the run this season stems a vast amount from the lack of play at the NT position, with Pouha not playing at 100%, and Kenrick Ellis missing extensive time. However, Pouha’s play on Sunday was a major contribution to why the front seven players listed in our top defensive performers were able to excel. Pouha’s ability to clog the middle with multiple blockers sprung linebacker Bart Scott to be able to roam free, fly around, and make the plays he made, while also creating more one on one scenarios for Coples and DeVito. Wilkerson still drew a good amount of double teams, but if Pouha can continue to increase his play, it will likely begin to limit the attention that can be paid to big Mo. While he proved to still be virtually useless in rushing the passer, a healthy Pouha’s value against the run is indispensable.

Bryan Thomas – This was probably one of the best performances, if not the best performance, that Thomas has put on all season. While he still struggles in space, and rushing the passer on a grand scale, Thomas was able to effectively set the edge against the run, while actually proving to be a handful for Russell Okung. Thomas displayed solid leverage, and a good feel for the overall blocking scheme of Seattle, helping contribute to his team high 7 tackles, while adding half a sack as well. A good sign, but one that must keep Jets fans skeptical, based on his overall performance up until this point of the season. Cerebrally, Thomas is great. Physically, he is at the point in his career where it is difficult to put together performances similar to his against Seattle on a weekly basis.

Calvin Pace – Pace, like Thomas, put together a rather surprising performance to the outside observer. However, if you have been reading these breakdowns throughout the seaon, Pace’s performance was right on point with what we have been saying since week 1. Pace is very solid against the run, can set the edge well, has excellent technique, but just lacks that second gear at this point in his career. Well, last week’s game summed that up to perfection. Pace was his usual tenacious self inside the box, and proved once again, to have a variety of pass rush moves, effective to get beyond the opposing tackle, yet not quite enough to actually get to the quarterback in a timely manner. Mike DeVito’s sack strip was actually caused by a ferocious rush by Pace that forced Russell Wilson to become frazzled to the point where he carelessly stepped into Mike DeVito’s interior rush, without protecting the football, resulting in one of the best defensive plays of the day. Pace still struggles greatly in coverage, but at this point he and Thomas are still the best options as everydown OLBs on the roster, which tells you all you need to know about how poorly this team’s depth has been constructed.

Garrett McIntyre – McIntyre continued to show a high motor against Seattle, recording a couple tackles in situations where he came off the backside unblocked, but he is a perfect example of how poor the depth is at the position. I am unsure if I can think of another NFL team that he would be getting meaningful reps with.

Linebackers:

With the exception of Scott, the overall play of this unit was just slightly above average. David Harris looked better than he has in recent weeks, but he is far from being the dominant force on the inside that the Jets were hoping he’d become. He did a much better job of taking on lead blockers, with the correct shoulder, either forcing run plays into his help, or allowing him to make the plays himself.

DeMario Davis was used a bit more as an edge rusher last week, where he seemed quite comfortable. On one particular play early in the game, Davis came off the edge with great closing speed, and should have had a sack on Wilson, who was forced out of the pocket on the play, but was held by Seattle’s Right Tackle, without a call from the official staring directly at the line of scrimmage. Davis, unfortunately, did have more lapses in coverage last week, however, and seemed to be caught out of position on some run plays. One play that stood out was an edge run to his side, in which Calvin Pace spilled the lead blocker to force the back to the edge, assuming he’d have the help of Davis to make the play, but the rookie linebacker was nowhere to be found, turning what should have been a 1-2 yard gain into about an 8 yard gain. Physically, Davis is proving to be quite substantial, but mentally, he still has lightyears to go.

Marcus Dowtin and Ricky Sapp flashed some of their athleticism and potential, however, there has yet to be a large enough sample of their play to give a fair evaluation at this point. Sapp did make an inexperienced move, however, on Marshawn Lynch’s fumble that, if recovered, would have given the Jets the ball inside the Seattle 10 yard line. Sapp had a clear chance to simply fall on the ball and secure it for New York, but he instead tried to pick it up with a clear path to the endzone, causing him to take his eyes off of it, thus allowing Seattle to pounce on the ball and maintain posession. Hard to fault a guy just signed from the practice squad for wanting to make a game changing play, but fundamentally, this was a major lapse. To use Tannenbaum’s company line, a recovered fumble there may have changed the complexion of the game. Who knows?

Secondary:

Kyle Wilson’s faults are magnified to their highest degree, and rightfully so. Wilson struggles tremendously in man coverage, and is notorious for the finger wag that has been highly documented here at TOJ. However, despite the Golden Tate touchdown on the first drive, Wilson responded rather well, with the exception of his ability to change direction. Wilson did a good job of covering the deep ball after Tate’s touchdown, but where he really struggles is on any type of hitch or comeback routes. His stop and go ability, and route recognition, is quite poor, something that can surely be taken advantage of.

Ellis Lankster has proved to be effective as a blitzer and in some zone coverage schemes, however, like Wilson, he struggles mightily in man coverage. Sidney Rice’s touchdown is a perfect example of his struggles. Lankster completely mugged Rice, who somehow was still able to make the catch over the out of position DB. Unfortunately, like OLB, I am unsure of who else New York could turn to at this point, particularly with Isaiah Trufant recently placed on the injured reserve list.

The Safeties played their usual game – solid against the run, looked for the big hit, and didn’t give up any real significant plays. The only poor play that comes to mind is LaRon Landry’s pass interference penalty in the endzone, but to me, that was a highly questionable call considering there was little contact and the ball seemed rather uncatchable. Landry proved again to be effective in the box, while Bell played another smart game with a high display of veteran savvy.

This Jets team is at a breaking point right now. There are two ways the season can go at this point – somewhat average, or a complete disaster. How they respond this week in St. Louis will be a sign of things to come for the 6 games to follow. Defensively, this unit is a healthy nose tackle and a pass rushing OLB away from being dominant once again. Inside Linebacker may end up being an issue if Davis contiues to struggle mentally, but I don’t neccesarily see that happening. Of course, Harris will need to regain form as well, but he is slowly beginning to play more effectively than not lately.

This week in St. Louis, the Jets front seven seems to hold the advantage against St. Louis’s offensive line, however the key comes down to Danny Amendola. If Rex Ryan and Co. think that they can put Lankster or Wilson on Amendola in man coverage, expect a 8-10 catch, 100+ yard game for the WR. With the way Coples and Wilkerson have been playing, this could easily be the week that they each register a sack. Stop the run, put Cromartie on Amendola, and get Bradford to the ground are all very realistic possibilities that should lead to defensive domination for New York on Sunday.

 

Turn On The Jets Offensive Film Breakdown – Jets vs. Pats

Turn On The Jets breaks down the offensive game film from Jets vs. Patriots

Turn On The Jets is back with another offensive film breakdown. Make sure to check back later in the day for Chris Gross’ breakdown of the defensive game tape. Today the primary focus is going to be on the passing game, which the Jets found a good amount of success with against New England. We will be looking at both “Good Sanchez” and “Bad Sanchez” and why Jeremy Kerley, Dustin Keller and Stephen Hill were so successful at getting open. 

The first two passing plays of the game were a perfect demonstration of Mark Sanchez’s inconsistency at quarterback. Tony Sparano called for a skinny post from the slot to Jeremy Kerley, which was executed to perfection. A good route from Kerley and a pinpoint throw from Sanchez in-between two defenders for a 20+ yard gain. The next play, Sparano goes right back to the well with the same play except to the opposite side with Stephen Hill in the slot. Encouragingly, Hill runs a very good route and gets himself wide open. Unfortunately, Sanchez overthrows him after just hitting a much harder throw to a much smaller target the play before. Frustrating to say the least.

The presence of Dustin Keller in the line-up made an enormous difference to the Jets passing offense. New England was forced to pay extra attention to Kerley on the outside, leaving Keller with one on one match-ups over the middle. Sanchez is extremely comfortable with Keller, particularly over the middle of the field. These are two separate 10+ yard completions, where Keller runs an option route, breaks the proper way and Sanchez correctly leads him away from the linebacker allowing him to turn up field. Expect to see a ton more of this throughout the year.

Sanchez only threw 12 incompletions throughout this game out of 38 attempts. At least five of those incompletions could be credited as drops. On the whole he was very accurate. However, Sanchez had his share of poor decisions as well. The interception was an indefensible mistake. He had two open receivers underneath, who he ignored and then floated an ugly, under-thrown pass to Stephen Hill. Later in the first half he tried to force this pass to Jeremy Kerley who is double covered and technically triple covered if you count the referee. He was lucky this didn’t turn into his second interception.

An appropriately criticized play-call was Tony Sparano’s decision to throw a slant to Chaz Schilens on 3rd and 1 near the red-zone. Regardless, the play was executed to perfection up until the ball went right through Schilens’ hands. This was a good route, a very good throw and a bad drop. Part of the reason you don’t make this call is because the Jets lack a big receiver who is reliable enough to make this play every single time.

Sanchez and Jeremy Kerley put on a clinic on how to operate the smash/fan combination in this game. Basically the Jets consistently had their outside receiver release on a short stop or in route and would send Kerley on a deep corner from the slot. The Jets completed this four times throughout the game, including this 19 yard gain where Sanchez drops a beautiful pass in all the way across the field.

We further see Sanchez’s arm strength on this touchdown pass to Dustin Keller. Look at how small that window is. Sanchez threw an absolute bullet in-between three defenders. There aren’t many people in the league capable of making this throw and I got news for you, Tim Tebow isn’t one of them.

A major point of contention towards the end of this game was Mark Sanchez taking a third down sack before the Jets go-ahead field goal. Anybody who criticized Sanchez in this situation is clueless (looking at you SNY). The Jets rolled Sanchez out and had Jeremy Kerley wide open at the 5 yard line. Sanchez cocks his arm back to fire it in to him but Kerley slips on his break so Sanchez pulls the ball back down. When he does pull the ball back down, he is immediately wrapped up. He then smartly takes the sack because if he threw the ball away, it would save New England a time-out. Yes, he added 10 yards to the field goal attempt but the Jets were so deep into field goal territory it didn’t matter at that point.

A few other player observations –

Jeremy Kerley – He is developing at such an impressive rate. Kerley runs precise routes and shows tremendous hands/toughness at consistently catching the ball in traffic. Honestly, he looks like a younger, quicker version of Santonio Holmes. Mike Tannenbaum got a steal in the fifth round.

Stephen Hill – His route running is really improving on a weekly basis. Outside of his drop, he easily played his best game as a pro. He made tough catches in traffic and did a nice job working back to the football on his routes. There is still going to be mistakes from time to time but Hill is going to be a very good NFL receiver, it is only a matter of time.

Shonn Greene – A solid effort from Greene, who picked up tough yards and somehow returned after taking an enormous shot from Brandon Spikes. Greene also deserves credit for being active in the passing game, where he made a positive impact and made a few difficult catches.

Joe McKnight – Ran very well, especially considering he played basically on one leg. When he is 100 percent healthy, it is hard to see him not being a much larger part of the offense.

OL – This was an ugly game for Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore. Shockingly, it might not be a bad idea to start giving Ducasse even more of Slauson’s reps. There is no discernible drop off between the two and Ducasse has a higher upside. D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold both played terrific, Pro-Bowl caliber games. Austin Howard was “meh” but the Jets generally do a good job of giving him help.

New York Jets Defensive Film Breakdown: Week 6

Chris Gross breaks down the New York Jets defensive film against the Indianpolis Colts

The New York Jets week 6 dominating performance of the inferior Indianapolis Colts was surely the best collective defensive effort of the season. From top to bottom, the Jets were sound in all facets of their defensive play. The defensive line, without two key players in Sione Pouha and Kenrick Ellis, played their best game of the season against both the run and rushing the passer, the linebackers looked surprisingly rejuvenated and fast, and the secondary continued to impress even without their All-World leader Darrelle Revis. Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine put together a brilliant game plan that clearly had Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck flustered and frustrated by the 4th quarter.

For this week’s defensive film breakdown, we will again format as we did last week, highlighting the game’s top performance, followed by the normal breakdown order. Let’s jump right into it because there is a lot to discuss.

Week 6 Top Defensive Performers:

Aaron Maybin – We have been extremely critical of Aaron Maybin in this column all season long, but it is time to give credit where credit is due. Maybin was very exceptional this past week, easily playing his best game of the season. Although the box score will not show it, Maybin was finally a serious factor in the Jets pass rush this week. We have knocked the former Buffalo Bill thus far this year for not working any pass rush moves into his arsenal, but simply running past the quarterback on a consistent basis. This week, Maybin finally worked in some variety of moves to his rushes, and it payed off tremendously.

On Antonio Cromartie’s first interception of Andrew Luck, Maybin worked a fantastic inside move that the opposing tackle was clearly not expecting, forcing Luck to run out of the pocket and make an off balance throw. Yes, Cromartie made a very nice play on the ball, but make no mistake, this play would not have happened if not for the efforts of Maybin.

Here, Maybin has Colts left tackle, and former first round pick, Anthony Castonzo completely off balance, as he tries to lunge at back to the inside, where Maybin clearly beat him.

As a result, Luck is forced out of the pocket, making an off balanced throw, with neither of his feet on the ground. With no leg drive behind his throw, Luck cannot put the necessary zip on the ball, and misses his target, resulting in the Cromartie interception.

Although Maybin only had half a sack in the box score, he was partially responsible for Muhammad Wilkerson’s strip sack in the 4th quarter.

On this play, Maybin came in on an inside loop stunt which he timed and executed to perfection. The key on these stunts is to sell the initial outside rush, to get the tackle to bail out, then come underneath, across half the length of the line, and establish pressure up the middle. As shown here, Maybin is right in the face of Luck, causing the rookie quarterback to make a decision – either take the sack, or scramble and try to make a play. Luck chooses the latter and the result is as follows.

Luck moves to his left, only to find the grasp of Wilkerson who gets credited with the sack and forced fumble. However, if not for Maybin’s perfectly executed stunt, this play would have not been made.

If Maybin can keep this level of play up, the entire pass rush will be boosted. The way he elevated the play of those around him this past Sunday should be very encouraging to Jets fans. If he does this on a consistent basis, all of a sudden the Jets go from a team that struggles to rush the passer to a team that poses a legitimate threat in that area.

Quinton Coples – As great as Muhammed Wilkerson played this past week, Quinton Coples was the best defensive lineman on the field for the majority of the game. In a full time role, Coples saw a lot of time not only at defensive end, but as a defensive tackle as well, similar to how he was used during his college career at North Carolina. What makes Coples so effective in being constantly moved around is his natural ability as a pure defensive lineman. Not only is he extremely athletic and powerful, but at 6’6″ tall, he has tremendous length, which he is beginning to use very effectively.

Coples demonstrated effective swim moves, push/pull technique, and the ability to get excellent separation from the offensive line. When the rookie uses his hands effectively, his reach is so long that it makes it just about impossible for any opposing offensive lineman to get into him enough to make a block. In doing this, Coples dictates exactly what he wants to do on any given play, making him extremely dangerous to an opposing offensive line.

Coples continues to be extremely agile in his pass rushes, particularly when lined up on the inside where he is a complete mismatch against slower offensive lineman. However, what very few realize, is just how powerful he is against the run. On a play in the 1st quarter, in which Muhammad Wilkerson stopped the ball carrier for a loss of one in the backfield, Coples forced the play back into Wilkerson with a tremendous push on the opposing offensive guard. Take a look:

As you can see, Coples has the opposing guard about 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The back (who is right behind the guard) is forced to cut back to the other side, where Wilkerson is in hot pursuit. Without this push by Coples, the back is likely never forced to cut back across the field, thus never giving Wilkerson to opportunity to make the tackle for loss. Great cohesiveness by this unit demonstrated on this play, as was the case throughout the entire game.

Rex Ryan – Ryan was ranked as a top performer for his game plan last week against Houston, something he topped this week against the Colts and their rookie quarterback. Ryan mixed up fronts, coverages, personnel, and most importantly, blitzes, particularly, the blitz that resulted in Antonio Allen’s first career sack, one of the greatest demonstrations of schematics and execution that one will ever see in a defensive arena.

As shown below, Allen lines up on the slot receiver, showing anything but blitz.

At the same time, cornerback Isaiah Trufant is lined up over the center showing an inside blitz. The alignment here makes it nearly impossible for a rookie quarterback to expect a blitz to be coming from where Allen is currently lined up. However, at the snap of the ball, Allen comes hard off the edge, while Trufant bails out to compensate for what would have been Allen’s man.

The complexity of this blitz is why it is so successful. Luck could have never expected the Jets to attempt to get Trufant all the way back to Allen’s man from where he was lined up, but that is exactly what they did. Unsuspecting that pressure is coming from his right, Luck cannot avert the blitz in time, and the play results in Allen’s first career sack. Extremely gutsy call that clearly paid dividends.

With his top two nose tackles inactive for this contest, Ryan also did a tremendous job of mixing up his defensive fronts to compensate for the lack of a true nose guard. At times, the Jets did show a traditional 3-4 look with various players lined up at the nose including Mike DeVito and Wilkerson. However, since neither of these players are truly effective at the position, Ryan adjusted to his personnel greatly.

Here, Ryan comes with a very creative scheme up front. From left to right, the personnel is David Harris, Muhammad Wilkerson, Calvin Pace, Quinton Coples, and Aaron Maybin. With virtually no one lined up in the middle, the Colts offensive line gets an unfamiliar look here both in terms of alignment and personnel, causing great confusion amongst this unit and their rookie quarterback. Excellent job by Ryan in recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of the players he had available on Sunday.

Since losing Darrelle Revis, Pouha, and most recently Ellis, Ryan has become extremely innovative in his schematics. For the second week in a row, we have witnessed how impressive of a defensive mind Ryan truly is.

Defensive Line:

Muhammad Wilkerson – Statistically, Wilkerson played his most complete game as a Jet with 7 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and a tipped pass. New York continues to rely on Wilkerson to be their jack of all trades on the defensive front, a role he is beginning to become much more comfortable with. Throughout the course of the game, Wilkerson saw time at the 0, 1, 3, and 5 technique, and was effective at each position. We have discussed his sack above, but one particular play that really stood out was Wilkerson’s tackle in the backfield in the second quarter. On the play, Wilkerson split an aggressive double team by the Colts guard and tackle, to stop the run for a gain of only one. It was an impressive display of strength, explosion, and leverage.

Wilkerson is slowly becoming the man of many roles for the Jets, which speaks volumes to how the defensive coaching staff grades his talent and ability. Wilkerson is beginning to mature as a leader on this defensive front through both example and poise, something that, considering his tremendous talent level, is an excellent sign for this group. Moving forward, New York has to feel good about its young group of defensive lineman.

Mike DeVito – DeVito was solid as usual for Gang Green. He was forced to fill in at the nose at times due to injuries to Pouha and Ellis, however, as we have previously discussed in this column he is not necessarily a good fit in that position. Still, DeVito surely held his own, and remained the usual blue collared, run stuffing defensive tackle Jets fans have grown to love. As for his pass rush ability, DeVito still proved to be very ineffective in this area. Fortunately, Ryan and company are beginning to seriously limit his reps in passing situations, which will both keep him fresh for first and second down, and allow someone else, like Aaron Maybin to get the necessary reps during those situations.

Calvin Pace – Pace played quite solid yet again. Still struggling to get to the quarterback, he does have a natural ability to set the edge and not allow anything to get outside of him, something that he certainly does the best among everyone at his position on this roster. During the first quarter, on the Colts’ first attempted end around, Pace took a bad step and was beat to the outside by the tackle.

At the left of the screen here, Pace can be seen in poor position as he is seemingly sealed by the tackle, thus losing the edge and giving the back room to run around. However, Pace continued to work toward the sideline, despite being beat on the initial step. The best defense for an edge player when they are sealed is to drive the blocker as far as they can toward to side line, in order to string the play out as long as possible, and allow the help to come from the inside. Well, this is exactly what Pace does on this play, and it works to perfection, as he eventually turns the play back inside, allowing Wilkerson to make the tackle for no gain.

This is textbook recover technique from Pace, who continues to be this team’s best edge player against the run.

Daniel Muir – Muir played with an excellent energy level, and certainly did not look like someone who was just signed off the street. He did get driven off the ball a few times, but other times he did a great job holding his own against the double team. He is also very active with his hands and feet in his pass rush. Although unsuccessful, he repeatedly worked a surplus of pass rush moves against the Colts offensive line. For the capacity in which he was signed, you have to be very impressed by the effort Muir put forth on Sunday. He is playing like someone who is hungry to keep his spot on the roster, regardless of who returns.

Damon Harrison – Harrison saw limited action this week, with Muir getting more reps as the last tackle worked into the rotation. He continues to prove to be very raw, but demonstrates great power. With some coaching, down the road, Harrison can certainly be a very effective role player in this league.

The linebackers – Excellent effort across the board from the linebackers this week. Bart Scott and David Harris both looked faster than they have in the first five weeks, and both did an excellent job in their run reads and defending lead blockers. Scott even broke up a pass, which was a phenomenal demonstration of awareness on his part. With his back to the ball, Scott recognized the target’s eyes and arms reacting to the pass, and stuck his arm out where he thought the ball might be coming from, swatting it away before the receiver ever had a chance. There are still some coverage issues with these two, but for the most part they were very improved in this area this past week.

DeMario Davis’s reps continue to increase, and you’d have to think that by mid-season he will be seeing at least half of the defensive snaps per game. His speed is above and beyond anyone else’s at the position, and he continues to play with great tenacity. He looks a bit tentative at times, perhaps because he does not yet have a full grasp on the system, but he is seemingly becoming more comfortable each week.

The Secondary – As a unit, this group played very well. Kyle Wilson put together his most complete performance to date through a strong display of coverage, open field tackling, and the ability to shed blockers. Anontio Cromartie continued his dominant play in the absence of Darrelle Revis, recording an interception in his second consecutive game. Ellis Lankster was hot and cold. On some plays, he was in perfect position and showed great reaction to the ball, while on others his technique was poor, and he lacked awareness. Still, an overall above average effort from Lankster this past week.

The safeties played quite good again as well. LaRon Landry got caught trailing a couple times in coverage, but his physicality against the tight ends was spectacular this week. On one particular play, Landry lined up in the box directly on Colts Tight End Dwayne Allen. Landry jammed him hard at the line, then laced him as soon as the ball touched his hands. What he may lack in pure coverage ability, he certainly makes up for with his physical level of play.

As discussed above, Antonio Allen executed one of the greatest timed blitzes you will ever see, which is an area where we expected him to succeed in in our full draft evaluation. Yeremiah Bell was solid again, but sometimes showed a tendency to give too much of a cushion between himself and the first down marker.

Josh Bush and Isaiah Trufant also saw time this week. Both did not do anything spectacular in terms of making plays, but neither did anything that hurt the team, which is very positive. The more experience these youngsters can get in fulfilling their responsibilities, the better.

Sunday’s game was a very complete defensive effort. Each unit complemented each other very well, and the cohesion of this defense is really starting to take shape, even in the absence of the leagues best defensive back. Rex Ryan has gotten back to his roots as a defensive mastermind. All of these things will need to continuously improve moving forward, but make no mistake, New York should be very encouraged by the product they put on the field against Indianapolis.

Turn On The Jets Offensive Film Breakdown – Jets vs. Colts

An offensive film breakdown of the New York Jets game against the Indianpolis Colts

This week’s Turn On The Jets offensive film breakdown is going to focus more on the running game, considering their success this past Sunday. Make sure you check back later in the day for our defensive film breakdown from Chris Gross – 

This was a banner performance from the New York Jets offensive line, particularly guards Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore. They were dominant at the point of attack and consistently driving Colts defenders 4-5 yards off the football. Offensive coordinator Tomy Sparano was heavily reliant on Moore pulling into the hole and clearing out space for Greene. On his 21 yard run in the first quarter, look at the hole cleared out by Moore and then sealed off by Konrad Reuland and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. You won’t see a better blocked play in the NFL than this one –

Tight ends Dustin Keller, Jason Smith and even Jeff Cumberland deserve credit for their contributions in the running game. Keller in particular looked like a different player blocking against the run. Sparano’s game plan was built around the tight ends having a large role as blockers, not pass catchers and they responded.

While plenty of credit goes to the offense line, we won’t shy away from giving plenty to Shonn Greene. More impressive than his 21 yard run was this 7 yard one below, which showed vision, patience and power. Greene played this entire game in a different gear and finally ran like the true power back the Jets expect him to be. On this play, Greene correctly extends horizontally to get behind the pulling Matt Slauson

He sees the hole, plants and sharply cuts inside of it without stumbling or slowing down. This has been a frequent problem for him this season. Even more impressive, he began to absorb contact around a 2-3 yard gain on this play but charged forward and dragged three defenders and turned it into a 7 yard gain. Greene got more yards than were blocked up for him, instead of leaving yards on the field.

On his 10 yard touchdown run we saw more of the same. Greene quickly locates the hole and hits it at full speed. He is untouched until the 5 yard line when he is met by two defenders, with a third closing in. He absorbs contact and then keeps his legs churning to drag all three of them into the end-zone. By any standard, against any defense this a very impressive run. If he continues to play like this, the Jets offense has a chance to be consistently successful.

Finally a quick look at how the Jets properly used Tim Tebow. On a 3rd and 1 near the goal-line, the Jets lined Tebow up at quarterback with two running backs behind him, a variation of the Pistol formation. Tebow quickly calls for a shift to five wide. Look in the second image at how much confusion it causes on the Colts defense. When they settle, the Jets have 7 blockers in front of Tebow to deal with 8 Colts in the box. The Jets will take this match-up every single day of the week on a 3rd and 1 with Tebow under center. They should literally run this play every single time on 3rd and 2 or less until a defense shows they can stop it.

Other Observations 

Mark Sanchez – He was not asked to do much in this game but played very well in his limited opportunities. In particular, his two touchdown passes were throws into tight windows. On the touchdown to Stephen Hill, he showed terrific chemistry with the young receiver as Hill properly broke the route off, Sanchez recognized it immediately and fired the ball in. Of his seven incompletions, one was a drop by Jeff Cumberland, one was thrown away on a busted screen, and one should have pass interference on the defender covering Chaz Schilens down the sideline. The only bad throw he missed was Jeremy Kerley down the seam on a third down where his timing was off.

Wide Receivers – Chaz Schilens still has a bad rep with some fans because of his injuries over the summer. The reality is that he has been very good for the Jets, catching 12 passes on 16 targets. He is turning into a favorite target of Sanchez on third downs and rightfully so. He runs sharp routes and aggressively attacks the ball in the air. He will be an important player in the Jets passing game moving forward. Stephen Hill also looked good in limited reps. He caught the ball well and did a nice job using his size to shield off defenders when catching a deep stop route and a slant.

Turn On The Jets Offensive Film Breakdown – Sanchez’s 34 Dropbacks

A breakdown of Mark Sanchez’s 34 dropbacks against the Houston Texans. Does he grade out positively or negatively?

This week’s Turn On The Jets offensive film breakdown is going to focus strictly on Mark Sanchez’s 34 dropbacks against the Houston Texans. Each play is going to be graded as either a positive (+) or a negative (-) based on the following criteria: Did Sanchez execute the proper read or decision based on what the defense was giving him? Let’s take a closer look – 

1 – 2nd and 10 at their own 13 (Incompletion to Jeremy Kerley) – The Jets ran a rub route underneath with Jeff Cumberland and Jeremy Kerley. Cumberland ran a poor route, hesitating and sitting too soon. If he takes one more step in his route, Kerley is wide open across the field. Kerley was still open but it was a tight window and Sanchez held the ball a split second too long as the pass rush collapsed around him and was forced to throw it away as he was nearly sacked. Lex Hilliard did a poor job of blitz pickup on this play, although he wasn’t helped by Austin Howard at all. Yes, Sanchez received poor help but he still could have found a way to complete this pass (-)

2 – 3rd and 15 at their own 8 (13 yard completion to Jeremy Kerley) – Sanchez drives a deep out route to Kerley who runs his route about 2 yards short of the marker. Kerley needs to push a little further. However, there was a beautifully formed pocket and Sanchez had Chaz Schilens at the top of the field on an in-cut that was wide open for an easy first down. The blame goes to both Kerley for not running his route deep enough to Sanchez for taking advantage of the extra time to find the open receiver for a bigger gain on the other side of the field. (-)

3- 3rd and 10 at their own 28 (Incompletion to Clyde Gates) – This was a poor route from Gates. He got held up at the top of his route. If he snaps his deep in-cut earlier and at the proper yardage, he would have been wide open. Sanchez threw it to the right spot but was victimized by poor route running. (+)

4 – 1st and 10 at their own 43 (27 yard completion to Clyde Gates) – Gates gets a little redemption here. After Antonio Cromartie’s INT, the Jets called three “go” routes. Houston obliged by putting 7 in the box and playingCover 1. Basically leaving all the Jets receivers in man to man and daring them to throw deep. Sanchez delivered a beautifully thrown ball down the sideline to Gates’ outside shoulder. Gates went up and made an athletic grab over Jonathan Joseph, one of the league’s better corners. (+)

5 – 3rd and 7 on Houston 27 (27 yard touchdown to Jeff Cumberland) – We get on Jeff Cumberland plenty here but he ran a textbook seam route down the hash here. He beat his guy, stayed skinny on his route and bent in at the perfect time. Sanchez drops in another gorgeous pass, his second in a row. This is why his inconsistency is so frustrating. The talent is clearly there. The past two throws were big boy NFL throws that Tim Tebow simply cannot make. (+)

6 – 3rd and 3 at their own 22 (2 yard completion to Chaz Schilens) – The Jets ran another rub route over the middle. Sanchez does an excellent job of stepping up in the pocket and sliding to avoid the rush. However he has Schilens open basically right at the first down marker but instead of throwing it out in front of him, he throws it high and behind. Schilens has to twist to make a very tough (and impressive) catch but is wrapped immediately and unable to extend the ball. Could the route have been a yard deeper, yes? Regardless if it was a better throw, it is still a first down (-)

7 – 1st and 10 at their own 27 (Incompletion to Konrad Reuland) – A poor play design where basically Reuland is the only option on a bootleg in the flat. Tony Sparano needs to keep this play on ice until Dustin Keller is back. Reuland was blanketed and Sanchez had nowhere else to go with the ball. He threw it low and away and it was deflected. Hard to blame him on this one. We’ll give him neither a (+) or (-)

8 – 2nd and 10 at their own 27 (Incompletion to Bilal Powell) – A well designed play that motioned Powell into the slot and had him run a speed out. The Jets got the coverage they wanted and Powell would have been wide open but he tripped out of his break. He must be hanging out with Shonn Greene too much. Sanchez threw it on point but Powell fell so it was incomplete. (+)

9 – 3rd and 10 at their own 27 (Incompletion to Bilal Powell) – The Jets basically cleared out for Powell underneath who was wide open. Sanchez delivered it on time but the pass was batted down. I am taking a case by case basis with the passes knocked down at the line. In this case, Sanchez had time to slide and give himself a better passing lane. By his fourth season, he needs to recognize the need to do this. (-) 

10 – 3rd and 4 at their own 34 (3 yard completion to Jeremy Kerley) – This play was designed for Kerley all the way. He came in motion to run a speed out from the slot. Honestly, this was just a great tackle by Kareem Jackson. Kerley probably should have pushed it a half yard deeper but it is hard to fault any Jet on this play, certainly not Sanchez who threw the ball out in front of Kerley where it needed to be. (+)

11 – 1st and 10 at their own 39 (Incompletion to Antonio Cromartie) – Cromartie ran a beautiful double move and blew right past the cornerback. This should have been an easy 61 yard touchdown. Unfortunately Sanchez threw the ball too far to the outside, forcing Cromartie out of bounds, where he still made a ridiculous catch. Simply put, Sanchez HAS to hit this throw. Separation like this must lead to a touchdown. (-)

12 – 2nd and 10 at their own 39 (Incompletion to Jeff Cumberland) – The Jets ran a deep back shoulder fade to Cumberland. Sanchez put it in the perfect spot but Cumberland dropped it. This should have been about a 25 yard gain. Missed opportunities. (+)

13 – 3rd and 10 at their own 39 (Incompletion to Bilal Powell) – Nobody was open down the field and the pocket quickly collapsed thanks to Brandon Moore, who had a rough night. Sanchez got rid of the ball before taking a sack. (+)

14 – 2nd and 6 at their own 11 (5 yard completion to Chaz Schilens) – Sanchez is very rarely accurate on passes 5 yards and under so this was encouraging to see. Schilens settles into tight window on an option route and Sanchez fired it in there after waiting for the window to open up in the zone coverage. Well done by both Sanchez and Schilens. (+)

15 – 1st and 10 at their own 18 (Strip Sack by Brooks Reed) –  The Jets went into their heavy package and were looking for the home run to Clyde Gates off play action. They were likely hoping to catch Houston napping, thinking they were just going to run the clock out. Unfortunately Gates was doubled deep as was Jeff Cumberland underneath. Sanchez should have thrown it away but held it a little too long and was sacked from behind by Brooks Reed who beat Jason Smith. Obviously this has been a recurring problem for Sanchez who must have better pocket presence and protect the football. (-)

16 – 2nd and 3 at their own 25 (Incompletion to Clyde Gates) – Tony Sparano went back to the same vertical play that they hit Gates on earlier for a big gain. Sanchez makes a very good throw but Gates is held by the corner who wasn’t flagged and can’t get to the ball. This was the play Gates’ shoulder popped out. (+)

17 – 3rd and 3 at their own 25 (12 yard completion to Chaz Schilens) – Sanchez bangs a slant route to Schilens who is wide open after coming in motion. Simple pitch and catch on a route Sanchez traditionally throws well. (+)

18 – 1st and 10 at their own 37 (36 yard completion to Jeremy Kerley) – The throw of the night by Sanchez who stands tall in the pocket, takes a huge shot and drops in a beautiful pass between two defenders to Kerley down the seam. Only increases the frustration that he can’t be more consistent because again this a big boy, 1st round draft pick throw. This is why Rex Ryan is keeping Mark Sanchez as his starter. (+)

19 – 1st and 10 at Houston 27 (10 yard completion to Chaz Schilens) – It looked as if Sanchez and Schilens checked to this at the line after they saw a blitz coming. A well timed throw. A good adjustment and an easy 10 yards. (+)

20 – 2nd and 5 at Houston 12 (Interception) – You’ve seen this play 1,000 times by now. Is the deflection Sanchez’s fault? Not really. Yet, he still made the wrong read on this play. Jeremy Kerley was going to take career ending hit if he caught this ball. Sanchez should went to the flat on the opposite side of the field. So we end the end the half with a (-)

FIRST HALF – 20 Dropbacks – 12 Positives, 7 Negatives, 1 Undecided.

21 – 1st and 10 at their own 28 (24 yard completion to Jeff Cumberland) – Good Mark Sanchez is back, dropping in a pretty deep out route to Jeff Cumberland off play action that goes for 24 yards. He does a nice job of putting enough touch on it to get it over the linebacker but enough zip to get it out front of the safety so Cumberland can turn up field. (+)

22 – 2nd and 14 at their own 47 (36 yard completion to Jeremy Kerley) – Jeremy Kerley is turning into a damn good NFL wide receiver. He shakes the corner at the line of scrimmage, forcing him to fall and then holds on as he takes a huge hit from the safety. Sanchez could have put a little more zip on this cover 2 hole shot but that is probably nit-picking. (+) 

23 – 2nd and goal at the Houston 3 (Incompletion to Chaz Schilens) – Damn JJ Watt. This is easy touchdown for the Jets over the middle to Chaz Schilens who ran a slant out of the bunch. Sanchez makes the right read and then Watt makes the type of play that is going to win him Defensive Player of the Year. I am sorry but Sanchez is at no fault here. He did everything right. This was just a tremendous play from Watt. (+)

24 – 3rd and goal at the Houston 3 (Incompletion to Chaz Schilens) – The Jets wanted to go backside to Kerley on a slant-fade route. Basically where Kerley takes three hard steps to the slant and then breaks out to the fade but it was well covered. Sanchez correctly moves to his next read, which is Schilens who appears to be running a deeper slant and then whipping back out along the back line. A tough and bizarre route that is ran very poorly by Schilens from start to finish. Again, this is not on Sanchez but on poor route running and play design. (+) 

25 – 2nd and 18 at their own 46 (19 yard completion to Shonn Greene) – Sanchez did everything fine here. (+) – Let me take a minute to riff on Shonn Greene’s general awfulness. If Greene had one capable NFL running back move this is a 54 yard touchdown. Look how much space he has!

Of course Greene slows down and leans to the inside where there is nothing but green to the outside. Instead of making a move, he then continues to slow down, crouches down and slams head first into the defender, allowing the pursuit to catch up with him.

He will never start another game in the NFL after this season, period.

26 – 2nd and 10 at Houston 35 (Incompletion to Shonn Greene) – Sanchez opted to check down to Greene, which based on the coverage was not a poor decision. His primary reads were all well covered. Sanchez threw the ball a little to Greene’s right to move him away from the linebacker but Greene dropped a ball that him in both hands. (+)

27 – 3rd and 10 at Houston 35 (Sacked) – Sanchez had Jeremy Kerley down the seam for a big play and he stepped up into the pocket to make the throw. However, JJ Watt made another ridiculous play, beating Brandon Moore and taking Sanchez’s legs out. Initially I thought this play would be on Sanchez for taking a sack in a bad spot but after watching the film, I’m not sure what else he could have done here considering the play Watt made. We’ll give him an undecided here.

28 – 2nd and 2 at their own 24 (Incomplete pass to Antonio Cromartie) – A poorly designed play that was rushed because of unnecessary substitutions that shouldn’t be occurring in a 2 minute drill. The swing screen was deflected by Conner Barwin but even if Cromartie caught it, he wasn’t going anywhere. Another undecided.

29 – 3rd and 2 at their own 24 (6 yard completion to Jeremy Kerley) – Excellent patience by Sanchez who waited for Kerley to get all the way across the set on a drag route and then fired in an accurate pass to move the chains on 3rd down. (+)

30 – 1st and 10 at their own 30 (10 yard yard completion to Jason Hill) – Sanchez went back to his bread and butter, the slant route. Hill stumbles a bit at the top of the route but Sanchez gets it to him anyway. At this point, it felt like the Jets were actually putting something together on their final drive. (+)

31 – 1st and 10 at their own 40 (Incompletion to Jeremey Kerley) – Sanchez was looking for Kerley on a 10 yard out route from the slot but simply missed the throw, putting it too low and to the outside. There is no reason this shouldn’t have been a 10-15 yard gain. (-)

32 – 2nd and 10 at their own 40 (Sack) – The Texans dialed up a blitz off the edge that the Jets completely failed to pick up (looking at you Bilal Powell). However, Sanchez should have recognized the pressure was going to come off the left side and move Powell there before the snap to make his job easier and the blitz easier to recognize here. Sanchez double clutched and probably could have got rid of the ball to an underneath receiver. Tough play with the blitz? Yes. Still you cannot take a sack here. (-)

33 – 3rd and 18 at their own 32 (Interception) – For some reason the Jets rushed to get this play off right before the two minute warning. They should have taken their time and went to the sideline to regroup after the sack. Sanchez made the right read. Jeff Cumberland was the primary read, he was open on about a 12 yard out route. Sanchez makes a good, not great throw that bounces off Cumberland hands for a game ending interception. Yes, Cumberland should have caught the ball. But why rush to the line in this situation? (-)

34 – 1st and 10 at their own 9 (Incompletion to Jeremy Kerley) – The Jets last second desperation play. You’d like to find a way to complete this so you at least have a chance to lateral. (-)

SECOND HALF – 14 Dropbacks – 8 Positives, 4 Negatives, 2 Undecided

TOTAL – 34 Dropacks, 20 Positives, 11 Negatives, 3 Undecided

Overall Analysis – It is fair to say that Mark Sanchez played better than his stat line indicated. However, that doesn’t absolve him of the inconsistencies he demonstrated. What is frustrating about re-watching this game tape is that this game was there for the Jets to win. They weren’t blown off the field by Houston. They weren’t outclassed. In a way that is encouraging for the rest of the season. If they cut back on the missed opportunities and mistakes, they are going to win football games. You can’t miss on a 61 yard touchdown to Antonio Cromartie. You can’t drop 25 yard completions. You can’t make the wrong read near the end-zone. However, you also won’t be dealing with JJ Watt and the Houston Texans every week. Sanchez was much better against Houston than he was against San Francisco and even Miami. It would not be surprising to see him put up a solid stat line against a Colts defense that is a major step down from Houston. Beyond that, everybody now has another game of experience in the offense and Dustin Keller should be back.

Turn On The Jets “Offensive” Film Breakdown – Jets vs. 49ers

A breakdown of the “offensive” game film from Jets vs. 49ers

The New York Jets didn’t play much, if any at all, NFL offense this past Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. However, that didn’t stop us from subjecting ourselves to the offensive game film. Make sure to check back later for when Chris Gross breaks down the defensive game film. Also check out our latest deal from Night Out at Tammany Hall Tavern. Make sure to take advantage for when you are watching the games this weekend –

Mark Sanchez – Without question, this was the worst game Mark Sanchez has played this season and maybe in his NFL career and he has had some bad ones. The problems started right on the first drive when the Jets had already passed the 50 by virtue of Jim Harbaugh not challenging a long completion to Chaz Schilens when Sanchez was across the line of scrimmage. Harbaugh probably knew he could afford to give up those yards with the offense he was facing all day. On a 3rd and 2, Tony Sparano makes a terrific play call that gets Santonio Holmes wide open over the middle of the field. Wide open. Open enough that if he catches it, he probably has the Jets down around the 20 yard line because of all the space behind him.

For some reason, Sanchez doesn’t even turn his head to look at Holmes, who is the primary option on the play. He holds the ball excessively long waiting for Jeff Cumberland out to the left to break open and then steps up in the pocket, still has time to get it to an open Holmes and then takes a sack. This play set the tone for the whole day for Sanchez who was skittish and not on the same page with his receivers.

Later in the half, with the Jets again driving Sanchez faced another third down. This time, the play call and the routes were not great. San Francisco had every Jets every blanketed. Sanchez has enough time to recognize this and either throw the ball away or dive forward for a short gain to set up a field goal.

We all know what happens. He shows no ball security by not tucking it away and is hit from behind for a fumble. This is a rookie level mistake and completely inexcusable. Sanchez came out in the second half and actually made his best throw of the day, a 14 yard deep out route to Chaz Schilens. This was the only time he looked like a NFL quarterback on Sunday, executing a play-action and delivering a perfectly timed bullet to him.

Tony Sparano followed this play up with a well-timed screen pass to Shonn Greene. This play was wide open and set up perfectly. Even the NFL’s slowest back, Greene, could have picked up 20-25 yards here. However, with a pass rusher in his face Mark Sanchez fades away and doesn’t put enough air under the ball. In this situation, he needs to either slide away to get Greene the football or stand tall, take the hit and get more air under it.

Of course we know he didn’t and from this point on, Sanchez was completely checked out of the game. He could not buy a completion and wasn’t even really looking down the field at all.

Receivers – The only positive praise you will see in this article is for Chaz Schilens. I mentioned this last week and it showed again, Schilens runs sharp routes and plays with confidence. He looks like a NFL receiver out there, which is saying something on this Jets offense. He can be a productive number two or number three, although he unfortunately might be stretched too thin with Santonio Holmes now hurt.

The Jets don’t ask Jeremy Kerley to do enough. He can bring more to the offense than running 4 yard option routes. He needs to be sent down the field more and worked into there Wildcat package as a runner. Patrick Turner, who is now cut, looked how you would expect him to look after not being on the roster the past few weeks.

The tight end issues remain the same. Jeff Cumberland, to his credit, caught the ball well and broke a few tackles. However, remains utterly incompetent when it comes to blocking. His route running is also inconsistent and frequently throws off the timing and rhythm of the passing game.

Running Back – Different week. Same story. There was less room than ever for the Jets running backs this week but they continued to leave yards on the field. Shonn Greene might need 500 carries this season to crack 1,000 yards. This was a disappointing game for Bilal Powell who left more yards on the field than he has in previous weeks. The Jets have signed Lex Hilliard this week and he should be starting over John Conner by this Monday night.

Offensive Line – This was the poorest effort of the season from this unit. Nick Mangold had maybe his worst game as a pro. He was thrown around the field way more than we’ve ever seen. Matt Slauson and Vlad Ducasse are basically splitting reps at this point but both are way too inconsistent and give up pressure routinely. This was a decent game for both of the Jets tackles, considering the defense they went against, it is hard to get down on Austin Howard.

Turn On The Jets Offensive Film Breakdown – Jets vs. Dolphins

Turn On The Jets offensive film breakdown from the Jets week 3 win against the Miami Dolphins

A collection of observations after watching the New York Jets offensive game film against the Miami Dolphins. We will focus on a handful of plays before breaking down key individual position group’s performance. Make sure to check back later in the day for Chris Gross defensive film breakdown –

Operation Clusterf*** – The second interception thrown on the day by Mark Sanchez which came in the end-zone during the third quarter was a complete disaster from start to finish, beginning with the play call and ending with a horrid throw. With the ball on the 7 yard line, Tony Sparano called for a smash/fan combination to the right side of the formation. Jeff Cumberland was lined up at split end and Stephen Hill was in the slot.

A smash/fan is one of the most basic route combinations in football and one of the easiest reads for a quarterback. Basically the outside receiver will run 5-7 yards and hitch back to the quarterback. The slot receiver runs a post-corner route. If the outside corner squats on the hitch route, the quarterback throws to the post corner, if the cornerback bails at all, the quarterback throws to the hitch route.

The problem with the play call on the 7 yard line is that it limits the space between the two routes, making it easier for the outside corner to play both routes at once. What is also a problem is that they had Cumberland, who isn’t accustomed to lining up at receiver, running the outside route. His inexperience would shine through on this play by pushing his route way too far into the end-zone. Basically he ran a 9 yard route instead of a 5-7 yard route, which made the outside corner’s job that much easier. In the slot, Stephen Hill rounded off his route and didn’t make a sharp plant and cut to shake his coverage. In a tight space, making a hard sell to the inside is that much more important. Hill could get away with routes like this at Georgia Tech but not in the NFL.

On to Sanchez, who showed no patience and put way too much air under his pass. Basically Sanchez pre-determined in the huddle he was throwing to Hill at the back pylon. He takes three steps and releases the ball immediately, despite having excellent protection. If he would have waited an extra half second, he would have seen how deep Cumberland pushed his route at which point he could have either threw it on a line to Hill instead of floating it or could have put more air under it and got the ball to the back pylon, where it would have been caught by Hill or went out of bounds. Finally, he also could have saw how poor the route combination broke and turned back side to a wide open Santonio Holmes, who probably catches the ball at the 2 yard line and walks into the end-zone.

Sanchez – Overall it wasn’t a pretty day for Sanchez. The positives? He showed good pocket presence, repeatedly stepping up and delivering the ball down the field. He heated up late in the game and showed terrific chemistry with Santonio Holmes…finally. What is so frustrating is that throughout this game Sanchez made every throw necessary in a NFL playbook. He hit the deep dig route, he hit the comeback route outside the numbers, he hit the deep ball in stride down the numbers. However, there is no consistency. He repeatedly missed open receivers down the field and showed a lack of patience. On his first interception of the game, he needs to recognize how poor of a route Clyde Gates ran and how Richard Marshall is ready to jump it. Beyond that, if he is going to throw it, it must be more up the field. He will make throws like this and then make textbook throws like he did on Jeremy Kerley’s 66 yard catch (we’ll get to that later). The inconsistency is incredibly frustrating.

The Wide Receivers – Santonio Holmes did a complete 180 from last week. He ran sharp, aggressive routes and did a good job working back to the football when it came to him. Richard Marshall was unable to handle Holmes from the opening snap. He has the skill set to beat up on weaker corners like him. Holmes also handled rolled coverage very well, showing patience and finding the necessary windows.

Stephen Hill was a disaster out there. He had his leg rolled up early in the game and wasn’t the same after. Hill ran tentative routes and was shoved all over the field by Sean Smith. In the end-zone, he dropped a perfectly thrown fade ball and also had a long pass down the middle of the field bounce off his hands. It is doubtful Hill will play this week because of a hamstring injury but when he returns, he should be splitting reps with Chaz Schilens. Seeing his most extended work of the season, Schilens put together an impressive game. He ran crisp routes and should have a 69 yard touchdown if Mark Sanchez didn’t throw overthrow him on a beautifully executed double move. Schilens carries himself like a confident NFL receiver. Hill gets his confidence shaken too easily.

Jeremy Kerley deserves more playing time. He continued to demonstrate his big play ability, most notably on his 66 yard catch and run which was a thing of beauty from start to finish. The play was designed to clear out the middle of the field for Kerley, who drove his route hard up the field, snapped it back and then broke to the outside on a perfectly thrown ball from Sanchez who threw it away from the corner breaking to Kerley’s inside shoulder.

Kerley then shook both the corner and safety and was off to the races. When you see plays like this, it makes the inconsistency of the Jets offense that much more frustrating. The other receiver to play major reps was Clyde Gates, who simply put doesn’t merit any playing time. He rounds off every route and has no answer for physical coverage.

Offensive Line/Tight Ends – The protection in the passing game was very impressive, particularly in the second half. Austin Howard has very quietly put together a strong start to the season. Sanchez had a well formed pocket to throw from during most of the game. The run blocking wasn’t awful but has room for improvement. There are too many instances when Matt Slauson or Brandon Moore are knocked off the ball, clogging up running lanes. There were enough lanes to average more than 2 yards per carry as Shonn Greene did but that doesn’t mean the offensive line can’t perform at a higher level.

The fact that Jeff Cumberland is starting games at tight end is an embarrassment and a direct reflection on the poor job Mike Tannenbaum did this off-season building depth. He can’t block. He shows a lack of understanding of the offense and runs generally poor routes. Konrad Reuland is a better all around player than him by a sizable margin. Reuland shows a willingness to block and clearly understands his assignment on every play.

Running Backs – I won’t beat a dead horse. When a play is blocked like this, it needs to be more than a 2 yard gain –

Turn On The Jets Offensive Film Breakdown – Jets vs. Steelers

Breaking down the offensive game film from Jets/Steelers

Turn On The Jets broke down the offensive game film from the New York Jets week two loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. A big thank you to everybody who sent in their questions on Twitter on what they specifically wanted to see broken down from the film. Make sure to check back tomorrow when Chris Gross will go through the defensive game tape –

Let’s start with something positive, since the bulk of this article is going to be a negative review of Santonio Holmes, Shonn Greene, Mark Sanchez, and Jeff Cumberland. The New York Jets opening drive on offense was a thing of beauty. Mark Sanchez was accurate and aggressive, hitting Jeremy Kerley on a 45 yard completion on a well-designed play by Tony Sparano and a beautiful, shifty route from Kerley. The touchdown to Santonio Holmes took advantage of the Jets being so run heavy in their three tight end look that Sanchez’s well-executed play action held up both linebackers and brought the free safety towards the line to stop the run. This opened a huge window to Holmes for an easy touchdown. Great tendency breaking play-call by Tony Sparano.

Unfortunately after a strong start from Holmes, he grew impatient with Pittsburgh’s aggressive, physical coverage. He showed no ability to respond to it and terrible releases and overall route-running technique. On a key third down early in the game, Sanchez was keying on him to run a whip route (similar to an out, but when you run a slant, plant your inside foot and work back to the outside), however as Sanchez rolled right, Holmes slammed into a linebacker and falls over instead of releasing to the outside. With Holmes on the ground, Sanchez ended up taking a huge shot from Lawrence Timmons after throwing it away.

Later in the game, Holmes and Sanchez again struggled to connect on a third down. Last week on a nearly identical play, we praised Sanchez for being patient and hitting Jeff Cumberland on a 3rd and 9 instead of hitting Dustin Keller in the flat. However, here on 3rd and 16 and considering the Jets field position and complete lack of offensive productivity (this play took place midway through the 3rd quarter), he should have taken Kerley in the flat. Why? It either sets up a long field goal attempt, gives you a chance to go for it on 4th and roughly 6 or maybe Kerley makes a guy miss and gets a first down.

Regardless, Sanchez decides to wait for Holmes to reach the first down marker. Unfortunately, Holmes rounds off the top of his route. Instead of driving off Ike Taylor by threatening him deep, he rounds it off too early and doesn’t make a sharp cut back to the quarterback. This doesn’t move Taylor at all who squatted on the route and easily knocked the ball down.

Later in the game, Sanchez went to Holmes on a 2nd and 10 on a hitch route. Again, instead of driving his defender off, Holmes just slams into him and looks to push off. This disrupts the timing and it is why when he turned around, he wasn’t prepared to catch the ball which he dropped.

What I have seen through two games of Santonio Holmes this season is lazy route running, poor communication with his quarterback and endless complaining to the official to bail out his poor play. I have defended Holmes time and time again on this site, however so far this season he looks like a player who received a big contract and stopped working on the little things that make wide receivers great. When you watch players like Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz in the early game and then watch Holmes, the dropoff is enormous. Here is Holmes staring down an official after he dropped yet another pass (and there was no pass interference) while childishly trapping Ike Taylor’s feet between his legs. Taylor flipped out screaming at Holmes after this play for how long he held him there.

Moving on to Shonn Greene and the problems in the Jets running game. Here we see a well-blocked play and instead of Greene hitting the hole at full speed, he comes to a complete stop behind the of scrimmage and squats extremely low to the point of stumbling…again. This went for 3 yards and easily could have been a 7-9 yard again.

Later in the game, Greene had a monster hole on a well designed play by Tony Sparano. The Jets came out in a wishbone look and gave Greene a delayed draw. He literally goes untouched for 8 yards through the Pittsburgh defense, as you can see from both angles here. He has one person to beat, safety Ryan Mundy who steps up to fill. This is where it is a running back’s job to make the safety miss and score a touchdown.

What does Greene do? He squats as low as he can, starts stumbling and basically gives himself a concussion by getting smacked by Mundy for exactly a 9 yard gain. So basically Greene didn’t receive any contact until 8 yards down the field and finished with a 9 yard gain…not good enough.

There was a clear contrast between Bilal Powell and Greene in this game. Simply put, Powell looked quicker, more explosive and showed more of an ability to make people miss. On this play, Lawrence Timmons shoots through the gap unblocked and has a clear shot at Powell. If this is Greene, it is without question a 3 yard loss. However, Powell was fast enough to beat him through the hole and turn this into a 5 yard gain.

Later in the game, Powell should have had a 34 yard touchdown run. This play was well blocked up front and Powell made a great cutback. All it took was Jeff Cumberland sealing his man and he would have been off to the races. Unfortunately, Cumberland whiffed and the run only went for 10 yards. This is what happens when you have limited depth at tight end and don’t have a player who can block at the position.

Cumberland also showed no awareness on a hot route in the second quarter. If he read the defense properly, the Jets easily convert a 3rd down and don’t have to settle for a field goal.

A few other observations –

  • Austin Howard and the pass protection held up relatively well in this game. He did allow one sack but could have received more help from Shonn Greene on a chip block. Greene struggled in pass protection throughout this entire game.
  • Tony Sparano called a terrific first half. The Jets should have had an easy touchdown to Santonio Holmes in the end-zone to take a 14-6 lead. They rolled Sanchez out, got the coverage they wanted, Santonio Holmes ran a beautiful double move but Sanchez threw it high and behind him instead of out in front. Rob detailed this play here yesterday and it was a killer miss by Sanchez.
  • The deep ball to Stephen was another clever play call and a beautiful throw from Sanchez. Ultimately, it was just played very well by Ryan Clark. It is hard to put blame on anybody on this play. Hill probably could have ran a crisper route and he did struggle to get off press coverage all day…leading to Sanchez not looking his way very often.
  • Sparano got a little too conservative in the second half but his receivers weren’t helping the cause by getting pushed around so easily.
  • The 12 yard run by Joe McKnight was very impressive. There was nothing there and he broke a tackle, made two guys miss and showed good acceleration. It is time for more McKnight, Powell and yes Tebow running the ball. Shonn Greene doesn’t merit more than 15 carries per game at this point.