The New York Jets are not far removed from the Wildcat, double reverse passes of red zone hell. Yet, currently they have the fourth best red zone offense in the NFL, averaging 5.73 points per trip inside the 20 yard line. What has changed and why are the New York Jets suddenly winning in the red zone?
The BeastBrandon Marshall (3 touchdowns) is a great wide receiver and can win the overwhelming majority of his one on one match-ups. Chan Gailey has not over complicated things with Marshall near the end-zone and Ryan Fitzpatrick has recognized when he is isolated and reacted accordingly.
On his first touchdown the of the season, the Jets lost Nick Mangold to an injury the play prior. Following the injury, they switched their personnel, bringing Marshall on the field and likely moving away from an inside run call due to Mangold’s absence, The Browns reaction was to put ten in the box and leave Joe Haden on Marshall, which allowed the Jets to go directly to him on the fade route. Easy money.
Against the Colts, Fitzpatrick checked the play at the line after seeing Indianapolis with nine in the box and one high safety. He shifted his protection and went to the fade route again, allowing Marshall to again win one on one. More easy money.
Eric Decker (3 touchdowns) has always been a productive red zone receiver but didn’t receive enough opportunities last season. This year, the Jets have lined him up in the slot consistently, particularly in the red zone to allow him to exploit mismatches. Below, he wasn’t in the slot but was motioned tighter to the formation to take advantage of the Colts man coverage by running a rub route off Jeff Cumberland’s hip on his outside release. Decker’s timing was perfect here and his quick feet allowed him to easily create enough space for the score.
The presence of Marshall has allowed Decker to receive consistently favorable match-ups. Against Miami, he is singled up against safety Walt Aikens (#35), who he easily beats to the inside on a slot post route. The Jets will take Decker on a safety every day of the week.
We see a similar situation against the Browns, with Decker running the same route just from further out. This time he victimizes K’Waun Williams (#36), a reserve corner for the Browns….again a match-up the Jets will take every day.
Chris Ivory (3 touchdowns) is one of the hardest to tackle running backs in the NFL so it would logically make sense to feed him near the end-zone. Here the Jets run a man blocking scheme behind Nick Mangold and James Carpenter with Ivory receiving a hole big enough to drive a truck through.
Later in the same game the blocking breaks down when the Jets attempt to go the other way but Ivory has enough foot speed to bounce outside and make something out of nothing.
Finally, against Miami the Jets go back to running behind Mangold and Carpenter, resulting in another short touchdown for Ivory.
Overall: The Jets are focusing on funneling the ball to their three best skill position players in the red zone (what a revolutionary concept!) and have done a good job of not over complicating getting the football into their hands.