The New York Jets are rarely competent in the passing game. However, there were signs of a functional NFL offense against the Minnesota Vikings this past Sunday. Let’s look at two plays that worked, one to Percy Harvin and one to Eric Decker, likely the team’s two starting receivers in 2015.
Harvin Wheel Route
The Jets come out in a shotgun five wide formation. On the bottom of the screen they have a bunch formation, with Jeremy Kerley as the point man, Jeff Cumberland lined up to the inside and TJ Graham on the outside. Frontside, Eric Decker is split out wide with Percy Harvin in the slot. Minnesota is playing with one-high safety, man coverage front side on Decker and Harvin, with the other safety shifted over to play a short zone against the bunch.
There are three key routes on the play. First, Decker releasing immediately inside on a 45 degree angle for a drive route. This clears out space for the second critical route, Harvin’s inside fade route, which he executed to perfection. Watch Harvin sell the route to the inside and then how quickly he sticks his foot in the ground to break to the outside. This front-side wheel concept is a common NFL route combination and pulled off well by the Jets top receivers. Backside, Graham has the final key route. He releases inside and runs a vertical route at a 45 degree angle. This holds the one high safety, ever so briefly but just enough to create a huge window for Geno Smith to drop the ball in for a huge gain. The wheel route may be common but the backside vertical from Graham was a nice extra touch from Marty Mornhinweg.
Decker Slot Out Route
The Jets are in a shotgun four wide formation. Jeremy Kerley is in the near side slot, while Eric Decker is in the far slot tightly aligned to the tackle. TJ Graham is outside of Decker and Harvin is outside of Kerley. Prior to the snap, Kerley motions across the formation and releases into his route just inside of Decker. The Vikings initially show eight in the box, with everybody on the line of scrimmage. However, post-snap they drop three linebackers and another safety into coverage with the initial one-high safety running up into robber coverage frontside.
Kerley runs a short angle route which pulls the safety with him, when he probably should have keyed on Decker since the linebacker is in place to cover Kerley. The corner is taken out of the play by the deep curl route from Graham, meanwhile Decker runs his route to perfect depth right behind the safety and right in front of the corner for an easy third down conversion.