Jets fans have been asking all season – especially since the Bengals (and to a lesser extent the Falcons and Titans prior to that) exposed the Jets’ frailties in terms of defending quick passes – why don’t they jam the receivers at the line more often?
My reasoning has been that the guys they had that were most effective at doing that (Darrelle Revis, Aaron Berry and Ellis Lankster) are all not playing for various reasons, so the players that remain might not be able to do it effectively.
Another factor has been Antonio Cromartie’s injured hip, which maybe has an effect upon how readily he can explode forward to jam the receiver and then turn his hips to run with him, so he almost has to play either off coverage or press bail technique to give himself enough of a head start to stay with his man. Cromartie is a particularly interesting study because in the past, the Jets coaches have said that they’ve tried to get him to put his hands on the receiver more often and that when he has, the results have been good. The injury may have scuppered that for this year though.
However, whether it’s a sign that Cromartie is feeling better, a last desperation attempt at something new or even a change in philosophy they hadn’t fully considered until now, Cromartie was in press coverage and jamming the receiver at the line on a regular basis in yesterday’s game. So, how did it go?
You can sum this up in two words: Mixed results. Let’s break down all of the main plays he was involved in:
- Playing off the receiver, closed to make the tackle short of the marker but missed the tackle and allowed the first down
- In press coverage, jammed the receiver at the snap, only to do that a beat early and get called for being offside
- In press coverage, jammed the receiver, delaying his route and causing the throw downfield to be harmlessly incomplete on 3rd and 17
- In press coverage, tried to jam the receiver, didn’t get a clean jam and gave up a first down catch
- Playing off his man with outside technique, the throw down the middle ended up being caught for a 48-yard touchdown as he collided with Ed Reed
- In press coverage, he didn’t jam at the line, but did make contact within five yards. However, the receiver tossed him aside and was wide open for the first down. I’d need to see the coaches film, but I suspect the receiver got away with offensive pass interference there
- Playing off-coverage, he tracked the receiver across the field and the throw to the end zone was low and away, although the receiver wanted a flag
- In press coverage on 4th and five, he didn’t jam at the line, but did make contact within five yards to try and slow the receiver’s route. The fade was still thrown over the top and Cromartie had blanket coverage but didn’t look back for the ball and made contact before it arrived to get hit with a pass interference call
- Finally, he lined up in press coverage, but bailed out and dropped off, then jumped the route and dropped a potential interception
Conclusions? Well, sometimes being in press coverage doesn’t work, Cromartie is equally capable of having successes or failures whether pressing or not and, finally, it probably is a good idea to mix things up, as long as Cromartie is capable of doing so physically.
Other than his ups and downs in coverage, Cromartie also over-pursued on the Reece touchdown run.
The other cornerback, Dee Milliner, responded with easily his best game as a pro. Milliner looked – dare I say – good when targeted and the Jets smartly used Reed to give him plenty of help and dissuade the Raiders from targeting him too often. Three times he was targeted in the end zone and all three were incomplete. He still had a missed tackle and was also guilty of over-pursuit on the Reece touchdown, but Milliner really does seem to have benefited from them forcing as much playing time as possible on him. Let’s hope this isn’t an aberration, because if he’s at last smashed through the rookie wall, this gives them a chance in each of their remaining games.
Reed played his part in Milliner’s solid performance and did intercept a wayward pass, but what will be remembered from this game is probably his collision with Cromartie that led to the Rod Streater touchdown. That was a bizarre play because it looked like the throw was intended for the slot receiver and Cromartie and Reed both jumped that route, only for the throw to by-pass everyone and end up in Steater’s hands on the back end. It was similar to the Jets’ first touchdown in that someone must have run the wrong route there.
Overall Reed is starting to look good. His range is far superior to anything the Jets have had back there in recent seasons and his comfort level is returning. He got there a hair late on two first down throws into zone coverage, but his closing speed was still impressive. The fact that they worked Antonio Allen into more packages so that Reed was only in the game 70% of the time may also have helped.
The other safety, Dawan Landry, made some good contributions in the running game, but again overpursued on the Reece touchdown run. He also gave up a couple of first downs in coverage for the second week in a row.
In Allen’s increased role he made a good play in run support and had a pressure off the edge. He did get beaten for a first down on one play but he was all over the receiver who made the catch.
Kyle Wilson had another quiet day in coverage, which of course is a good thing. He was in good position to make the tackle on a third down pass that was dropped anyway and should have drawn an offensive pass interference flag on a screen pass where he was being blocked with the ball still in the air.
Finally, Josh Bush and Jaiquawn Jarrett played 10 snaps between them and each contributed by helping to break up a pass.
Next up…a special moment for the special teams unit.