New York Jets – Reviewing the Defense – Week 4

The Jets are officially off to a 1-3 start after losing another close match up against an NFC North opponent. The Lions high octane passing attack seemed to get the best of the Jets defense, although the pressure from the front seven was present. Let’s take a look at the best and worst from week 4 from the defense…

Stand out play of the week: Sheldon Richardson beats double team for a 9 yard sack


The Jets come out (second quarter, 1st play of the drive for the Lions) in a simple look. Antonio Allen, Darrin Walls, and Dawan Landry in off-man coverage. Linebackers David Harris and Demario Davis in the middle in intermediate zones. Calvin Pryor the deep, single high safety. Calvin Pace is spying on the running back, the line is a basic four man rush of Quinton Coples, Damon Harrison, Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson.

Coples is up top in a hybrid between a 5-tech/9 wide alignment (not completely off the tackle, but relatively far). He will take the left tackle outside, which allows Demario Davis to run a free rush on a delay blitz (out of his zone) if he chooses. Damon Harris will command the left guards attention, the center and right guard will double team Richardson, while Muhammad Wilkerson faces the right tackle.

The Jets front sets the edge while the Lions run play action. In order for this to work, the Lions dedicate six blockers vs. the Jets four man rush. The running back cancels out vs. Pace. This leaves three receiving targets vs six Jets in coverage, making separation extremely difficult.

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Sheldon Richardson rips through the right guard and center, while the three receiving options are blanketed between a mix of man and zone coverage:

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Coples bursts off the edge, forcing Stafford to step up. The only target he has that is relatively open is on the bottom right, but Walls has more than enough time to break on the ball if Stafford even sees him. Richardson rips through the double team and finishes for the sack:

The one that got away: Over aggressive Jets get smoked by Tate

It’s 3rd and four in the first quarter and the Jets defense has come out with energy on their first two plays. The first one, they swallowed up Reggie Bush on a run that allowed two yards. The next play was  a quick four yard pass where Darrin Walls made a text book one on one tackle, allowing no yards after the catch. The Lions go five wide:

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Before you say wow, look at that genius scheme by Rex Ryan, slow down. There are some huge flaws here, especially on 3rd and four vs. a five wide set. See the slot “corner” up top? That’s Quinton Coples. Calvin Pryor is the red zone up top all alone, putting a ton of pressure on the rookie safety. Dawan Landry is in the lower slot and will slide into the pink zone.

Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls man the outside, with Walls in man coverage and Allen playing the off deep on the other side (the only smart thing about this scheme). Calvin Pace will drop out into a short zone in the lower slot. The Lions have Eric Ebron run towards the deep middle, commanding Pryor’s attention. Golden Tate trails him, leaving this giant gap in the middle of the field as David Harris clears out to help Coples:


Pace obviously can’t see Tate behind him and even if he did, it’s very unlikely he could keep up with the Lions quick number two wide out. The play resulted for a thirty five yard gain:

 Co-Defensive MVPs of week 4: Sheldon Richardson and Quinton Coples

These two have been impressive through the first quarter of the 2014 season. Coples looks quicker off the edge while Richardson continues to shoot through gaps to find his way in the back field. They seem to do their most impressive work from four man rushes where the secondary has an extra hand in coverage vs. the opposing wide outs.

Dud of week 4: Rex Ryan and the defensive game plan

Golden Tate and Eric Ebron torching David Harris in 1 on 1 coverage? Leaving Calvin Pryor in a single high safety look with multiple responsibilities? I am a Rex Ryan fan, but the over aggressive style in this one back fired for the Jets defense. Hopefully the game plan changes for Philip Rivers and he Chargers’ high octane passing attack in week 5.