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.

New York Jets Week 2 – Film Room Thoughts On Steelers

After breaking down week 1 film, thoughts on the Jets/Steelers match-up

A couple of quick thoughts after watching Steelers/Broncos on the All-22 tape and re-watching Jets/Bills

– The Blitz Beater – We talked earlier in the week about how Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller could hurt the Jets in this match-up. Their ability to hurt them goes beyond potential coverage issues with Kyle Wilson, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell. Ben Roethlisberger loves to use both players and particularly Miller as blitz beaters whenever opposing defenses aggressively come after him. Here is a first quarter 13 yard completion to Sanders. See how Roethlisberger and Sanders recognize the blitz pre-snap and he quickly delivers the ball down the seam to an open Sanders in the slot at the bottom of the screen –

Later in the game the Steelers convert a similar play for a 15 yard gain to Miller. After recognizing the blitz, Miller releases and turns to the outside, wide open, Roethlisberger quickly gets the ball out so Miller has space to run and pick up a big chunk of yardage.

Rex Ryan must do a good job of disguising his blitzes and the Jets linebackers and safeties need to quickly cover ground when left exposed in man coverage.

– Keenan Lewis – Keenan Lewis is the Steelers starting cornerback opposite Ike Taylor. The Jets would be wise to attack him early and often, particularly if he gets matched up with Santonio Holmes. Last week Lewis frequently found himself on Eric Decker, who plays the same position that Holmes plays in the Jets offense. Peyton Manning took advantage of the exceptionally large cushion Lewis was playing with in the two plays below, which went for 13 yards and 17 yards respectively. In the first play Decker and Lewis are at the bottom of the screen and on the second play, they are at the top –

– Back To The Well – We detailed here how the Jets took advantage of the wide receiver screen last week. They would be wise to keep it in the game plan after how Pittsburgh defended this 71 yard touchdown by Demaryius Thomas. Again, Peyton Manning took advantage of an excessive cushion and safety Ryan Mundy looks clueless on this play. It should be noted however that Ryan Clark will be back in the lineup instead of Mundy and it is doubtful the Steelers corners will consistently play with such a deep cushion against Mark Sanchez.

 

New York Jets Defensive Film Breakdown: Week 1

Chris Gross breaks down the New York Jets defensive film against the Buffalo Bills

To complement our new series of offensive film breakdown from Joe Caporoso each week, this column will provide a similar insight into each week’s game from the other side of the ball. Each position will be evaluated, with a primary focus on the defensive line. For this week, let’s take a look at what the eye in the sky told us about the Jets’ week 1 defensive performance against Buffalo,and what needs to be improved upon heading into the coming weeks.

The New York Jets defensive play this past Sunday was, for the most part, a very impressive, and dominating performance. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted three times, once returned for a touchdown, all within the first 3 quarters of play. While there is certainly an abundance of reasons to be excited about the way the Jets played, defensively,there is still room for a vast amount of improvement. The ceiling for this defense is limitless, but in order to reach its’ full potential, improvements need to be made all across the board, particularly up front.

First, let’s look at each part of the defense, and evaluate based on position group. Since this series will have a primary focus on the defensive line, each player who received playing time will be evaluated individually,while the remaining defensive groups will be evaluated as a whole. We will then look at some of Buffalo’s most positive offensive plays and break down exactly what went wrong.

Defensive Line:

Muhammed Wilkerson – After a full film evaluation, there is little doubt that Buffalo game planned around the second year pro out of Temple. Wilkerson was accounted for on every single play, as he was double teamed on the majority of run plays, while the protection on passing plays was shifted to him, nearly 100% of the time. With Sione Pouha out, Buffalo recognized Wilkerson as the Jets best defensive lineman, and drew up a nice protection scheme to keep him in check, which is why he had a relatively quiet day. However, in the small sample of plays that Wilkerson saw one on one protection, he was a clear mismatch to whoever was attempting to block him, whether it was a tight end or tackle.

One particular flaw that Wilkerson displayed, however, was a tendency to peak his head inside when he was lined up outside of the tackle or tight end as the edge player. He needs to trust that his teammates will execute their assignments properly, and worry about his job on each particular play. Nothing too negative came out of this during Sunday’s game, but teams could take notice of this and attack the outside on Wilkerson, which would become a problem if this tendency persists. Still, it is obvious that Wilkerson is beginning to command respect from opposing offensive lines. The return of Pouha will likely lead to more double teams on him, and less on Wilkerson, allowing the talented defensive end to make more plays.

Quinton Coples – Coples looked very much like a rookie in his NFL debut. He did some things great, while making some mistakes that are a clear sign of inexperience. The best play he made all game was his tackle for loss on Bills running back CJ Spiller in the 2nd Quarter. Coples was lined up as a 5 technique on the outside shade of the tackle, who down blocked in an effort to get to the second level on Linebacker David Harris. Not only was Coples quick enough in his steps and reaction time to prevent the Tight End from getting down on him, but he chipped the tackle’s shoulder just enough to prevent him from getting to Harris, allowing the linebacker to go unblocked. Even if Coples had missed the tackle in the backfield, Harris was waiting right behind him to make the play, a direct result of excellent hand work by Coples. This play in particular was a textbook defense of the down block.

While this was certainly an excellent display of instinct and technique by the Jets first round draft pick, there are still a number of things he showed he needs work on if he ever wants to achieve his full potential. One aspect, in particular, is his ability to take on the double team. Coples was repeatedly lined up on the interior, either as a 3 technique on the outside shade of the guard, or as a 5 technique, with a tight end to his side. He faced a great amount of double teams when he was lined up in these positions, and did not necessarily fare too well. He needs to realize, that if he is going to be shifted all around the line, he is certainly going to see a great number of these schemes on the interior, so he needs to do a better job of expecting and preparing for it.

While Coples is superbly talented in terms of athleticism and strength, he does tend to get locked up with his blockers at times. He too often took on the entire man this past Sunday, rather than working a shade and attacking half the man. Regardless of who you are or how strong you may be, it is nearly impossible to go directly through a 300 lb man, especially in the NFL, where the game speed is at an all time high. If he can work these kinks out, Coples’ natural abilities will allow him to develop nicely.

Calvin Pace – Pace was easily the most technically sound player in the front seven this past week. He was the veteran of the bunch, and it certainly showed through flawless foot and hand work, as well as an overall instinct and feel for the game. No one on the team showed the ability to set the edge better, and Pace actually displayed the greatest arsenal of pass rush moves as well. The problem is, he is just a step too slow at this point in his career to capitalize on his excellent technique and record multiple sacks, otherwise his annual sack total would be much higher than what it has been over the past couple of seasons.

Kenrick Ellis – Ellis played very well filling in for an injured Sione Pouha. He proved to be a very immovable force as both a two gap and one gap assignment player, as he was constantly in the backfield, and could not be driven off the ball, even when double teamed. Ellis also displayed excellent lateral quickness for a player his size, something that is vital to the position he plays. When Pouha returns, the Jets are going to have a very good rotation at the Nose Tackle position.

Mike DeVito – DeVito played how anyone who has watched the Jets for the past few seasons would expect him to play. He is extremely tough and smart, and he works very hard, while hardly ever making mental mistakes. DeVito, like Ellis, could not be moved off of the ball on run plays this past week. Although he did not split double teams and gain penetration like Ellis, he did a very good job of occupying two blockers and not allowing either of them to get to the linebackers on the second level.

Marcus Dixon – Dixon did not play particularly well this past week, which could just be a sign of rust since we was just recently resigned to the team following his release at the end of the preseason. Dixon did not show any type of explosion on Sunday, and struggled mightily against the double team. Many times, particularly on some of the big runs by Buffalo, Dixon would end up 8-10 yards down the field. This cannot happen on the defensive line, and if he wants to continue to get reps, Dixon is going to have to play like he has in the past, not like he did on Sunday.

Aaron Maybin – Maybin generally played how one would have expected him to play. He is extremely fast off the ball, and relentless in his pursuit, however his lack of body control caused him to get bumped around and knocked off balance too often. Maybin can be a very effective pass rusher, as we saw last year, however if he does not get his body under control, he is going to remain as a guy who will get 4-6 sporadic sacks per seasons, rather than the 10-12 that he has the potential for.

Linebackers – David Harris played as well as he normally does. He was very disciplined and seemed to have a great feel for what was coming from Buffalo on every play. A few times, he was hindered by a defensive lineman getting blocked into him, which blocked his line of vision, thus preventing him from making a play. Harris generally did a good job of shedding his blocks, but did allow the offensive lineman to get into him a few times,before he could get separation with his hands, obviously something that he needs to be more consistent with. Still, Harris was very effective, and remains one of the best players on the defense.

Bart Scott was very up and down. He certainly brought the tenacity of the Bart Scott of old that Jets fans have grown accustomed to. However, on several plays, he was a step too slow in his run angles and pursuit, which allowed the guard or tackle to get just enough of him to prevent him from making a play, which further allowed the running back to spring into the second level. Although, on other plays, Scott did beat the lineman across his face, taking him right to the play. His play was certainly decent, but needs to improve.

Secondary – The corners played the best out of any unit on the defense, as displayed by the interceptions obtained by Darrelle Revis, Kyle Wilson, and Antonio Cromartie.

The Safeties played excellent against the run. Both LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell were extremely fast to come up and fill on run plays, the primary reason as to why they were involved in so many tackles. They still need to gel in coverage a bit, however. Landry did a great job of engaging the tight end on several plays, but would more often than not allow him to get a step ahead, which is why there were some plays of Scott Chandler reeling in a catchand being tackled immediately. Of the two, Landry saw much more time in the box, while Bell occupied more of a true free safety role. Once the coverage timing gets down between the two of these new additions, the Jets secondary could strike vast fear into opposing offensive coordinators and quarterbacks.

The Big Plays Allowed – The two biggest red flags from Sunday clearly came from CJ Spiller’s two runs of 40+ yards. These plays were caused by a number of things including missed assignments, mental breakdowns, and some defensive lineman just getting flat out beat. On Spiller’s first long touchdown run of 56 yards, the defensive line in the game consisted of Dixon, DeVito, and Coles. Dixon was double teamed and blown nearly ten yards off the ball, while DeVito,who was lined up at NT on the play, got blocked into David Harris’s line of sight, which caused the linebacker to vacate his gap in an attempt to regain his vision and make a play. Spiller did a great job of recognizing this as he hit the gap where Harris was supposed to be for a clear path to the end zone.

On the second of Spiller’s two long runs, there was seemingly a bad communication error. Buffalo ran a counter type play, with the back side guard pulling to kick out Garrett McIntyre, who was lined up at defensive end. McIntyre executed a spill technique, meaning he attacked the pulling guard’s inside shoulder with his outside shoulder, in an attempt to jam anything in the middle,and force the back to the outside. Normally, this technique is used in a cover 2 scheme, where the cornerback would remain in the flats, thus accounting for any leakage on the outside caused by a spill, or in defense where a linebacker is responsible for outside contain. Unfortunately for McIntyre, neither of the two were out there, so once Spiller hit the outside, he was alone with plenty of daylight ahead.

On the same play, Kenrick Ellis got excellent penetration in the backfield, but was tackled to the ground by the guard just before making the play, a call missed by the referee that was standing right there. Marcus Dixon was again doubled teamed, struggling mightily.

Overall this was a very solid effort by the defense. Outside of a few week 1 mistakes in technique and assignment, this unit put together a very impressive performance. Sione Pouha’s return will certainly help, as it will allow for a solid two man rotation at the nose, as well as freeing Mike DeVito from seeing time there, something he is clearly undersized to do. There is a lot to work on for the Jets defense as the season progresses, but there is also much to be excited about.

Turn On The Jets Film Breakdown – Jets vs. Bills

Turn On The Jets breaks down the game tape from Jets/Bills, answering your questions and giving other observations

Every week in this column we will break down the offensive game tape, both offering our observations and answering your questions submitted on Twitter. Tomorrow, our resident defensive lineman, Chris Gross, will provide a film breakdown of the other side of the ball. Thank you to everybody who sent in this week’s questions, which were aggregated into the following as many were on the same topic – 

1. How effective was Mark Sanchez at going through his progressions and making the proper reads?

The short answer is very effective and this question led me to spend most of my time breaking down the Jets passing game, which was without question the biggest surprise of the week. Tony Sparano and Mark Sanchez both did a terrific job with a game plan that was built to feature Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Jeff Cumberland while using Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller primarily as decoys.

The first two pass plays were designed for Stephen Hill who was open on both and caught the second one on a crucial early third down. The third play was for Cumberland who was also wide open and moved the chains on a 13 yard gain. After that completion, Sanchez alternated making poor decisions/throws with terrific ones before settling down and playing a great overall game.

First, came the interception which occurred because Buffalo quickly took away his first and second read. Simply put, he should have ran out of bounds for a 3 yard gain or threw it away, as he did later in the game when the Jets tried a similar play that was defended well. He then followed up with a beautiful strike to Jeremy Kerley on a third down, where he was the first read and beat his guy immediately. Sanchez then missed a cover 2 hole shot to Holmes that could have been a touchdown, although Holmes could have got a cleaner release to help him out. Sanchez was then bailed out when he went to Hill on a 3rd and 5 and he drew pass interference, when he should have went to Holmes on a deeper out behind Hill.

Keep this play in mind because Sanchez learned from his mistake later in the game. The following pass was the Jeremy Kerley touchdown which was a well designed play by Sparano. It was meant to look like a wide receiver screen to Santonio Holmes. As Holmes works back to the ball, Kerley appears to be going to block the corner causing a slight hesitation from the man who is covering him, he then jets to the back of the end-zone and Sanchez delivered a perfectly thrown pass.

Sanchez was pretty locked in for the rest of the game from this point. He hit Holmes in a tight window to convert a third down, the Stephen Hill touchdown on his double move was an easy read and a good throw. Throughout the rest of the game, he made only three throws that weren’t on point. First he slightly overthrew Jeremy Kerley on a quick out, which was caught but forced him to extend and stumble, ending up short of the first down. Second, he just missed Holmes on a quick post, although you could argue Holmes should have made the catch. Finally, he again missed the hole shot to Holmes at the end of the half which was nearly a touchdown. This is a tough throw and they nearly executed it but missed by about an inch.

One particular play later in the game that was encouraging from Sanchez was a 3rd and 9, when instead of throwing it immediately to an open Dustin Keller in the flat (a play he absolutely would have made last year), he was patient and waited for his primary option, Jeff Cumberland (who is on the 20 yard line in this screen shot), to run his 9 yard hook route before delivering a spot on pass to convert a third down.

Finally, remember the Kerley touchdown? Tony Sparano smartly came back to the wide receiver screen to Holmes, knowing that the defense would be hesitant to jump it after getting beat earlier in the game. This was executed to perfection, thanks to a great block from Dustin Keller and went for a 17 yard gain.

A few final observations on passing game – It was striking just how often Hill, Kerley or Cumberland were the first read on passing plays. It showed immense confidence in three unproven players and all three answered the bell. The plan worked well because Buffalo was keying on Holmes and Keller, which helped get the three of them consistently open. Ironically enough it appeared the receiver Sanchez had the least chemistry with was Holmes. They just missed on three completions that all could have been big gains (two of which should have been touchdowns). If they get rolling on the same page, the Jets passing offense could be that much more effective.

2. Austin Howard/Mario Williams

Howard’s game was as good as advertised. He spend the majority of the dropbacks singled up on Mario Williams and consistently stonewalled his pass rush. Williams continually tried to bull rush him and use his power but could not get through, which gave Sanchez time to go through all the progressions outlined above. Howard showed surprising quickness and the times WIlliams looked to adjust to more of a speed rush he looked a step slow. His complaints about illegal hands to the face certainly didn’t show on the film as there were not blatant penalties missed by the officials on Howard.

3. Shonn Greene

Shonn Greene did finish with 94 yards, unfortunately it took him 27 carries to get there. Yes, there were times Greene ran very well in-between the tackles and he pushed the pile. However, the Jets need another option when running to the edge. This play below serves as a perfect example of why Greene needs a complimentary speed back with him. This play only went for 6 yards and look how well it is blocked up. Greene, again inexplicably stumbles when he receives the handoff, a recurring problem for him.

After the stumble, he gets temporarily held up behind the line here yet still there is space for a run that should net more than 6 yards. However, he simply doesn’t have enough burst to hit the seam. This is why the Jets may need to consider giving more outside handoffs to both Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight.

Check back tomorrow for Chris Gross’ film breakdown of the defense, primarily focusing on the defensive line.