BGA Extra: Cardinals at Jets

Bent , TheJetsBlog.com

This analysis is based on watching and re-watching TV footage. As such, it is not always possible to accurately determine everything that was going on. However, every effort has been made to ensure that the information below is as complete and correct as possible. For the purposes of BGA Extra (but not BGA, since that is too early in the week), I have also reviewed the coaches film, which was available for every play (whereas last year, it was only available for big plays). Statistics from PFF which are not available to subscribers were used in the completion of this article and we thank them for providing us with exclusive access to these.

Welcome to BGA Extra, where I draw a line under the previous weekend’s game by responding to your questions from BGA during the week. After the jump, I respond to your questions about Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. If you would like your questions answered in future, remember to read my BGA game breakdowns every Monday and leave your question in the comments section.

damion
What’s the Jets record when they rush for over 150 yards? I bet it’s pretty good. What’s that called again? Ground and pound!!!

They are just 2-0 (Colts and Cards games). To add to your point about them giving up that many yards though, they’ve lost four in a row when teams run for 150 yards against them. However, they won their first two games of the year giving up that much yardage (Bills and Dolphins).

a57se
There were two penalties that greatly aided the Jets in the second half – (a) the unneccessary roughness call when McElroy scrambled for a few yards I thought was ticky tack and surprised the Jets got that call; and (b) The PI on the ball McElroy threw up for grabs and was picked off. While the CB did grab Hill for a split second, I thought Hill did a good job of selling that one…two questions for you, What did you think about the calls? And, if Hill wasn’t grabbed by the defender, would the ball still have been a pick?

On the first play, while I’ve seen those not called before, I think most of the time you would get that call. I think the determining factor was not that he was over the sideline, but that he shoved him with force into the sideline area. You nearly always get the call in that situation, rightly or wrongly. Was it “necessary”? I say no, so that’s one I definitely agree with.

As for the Hill penalty, that’s a definite penalty in my view. Without question I think the defender impeded Hill’s progress which by the letter of the law is holding, or even pass interference. I don’t think he “sold it” at all, the stumble was directly caused by the grab from the defender. However, the call on the field was illegal contact, which I disagree with due to the fact that the contact was within five yards. Officials have been getting those mixed up all year, especially when the replacements were in.

Would it have been picked? No way. As you can see, Hill was only a step off when the ball was caught by the defender, so without stumbling, he’d have arrived first and maybe even had a good shot at contesting and coming up with the catch. You can’t fault McElroy on the play because he released the pass at the exact moment the stumble occured, so he’d have thrown it exactly where he intended to. He perhaps could have done a better job of looking off the deep safety though, if you want me to nitpick.

JetsFaninNC
I dunno if anyone will see this, but I wonder how physically well Sanchez has been. Besides that low back thing, I just don’t like the look in his eye… just looks a little “not all there” to me. Maybe I’m imagining it. Anyone with me on that, or am I really imagining it?

I noticed last year that he didn’t seem to be as enthusiastic, so that seems to have carried over. You can tell the weight of the world is on his shoulders. He’s approaching Wayne Hunter territory in terms of irreparable damage.

SackDance99
When McElroy came in, the Jets ran the same counter twice and it seemed to require QB footwork that G-Mac ran to perfection. Did Sanchez also limit what the Jets could do in the running game?

I don’t know if I ever saw Sanchez exhibit poor footwork in terms of handing the ball off, but this was a well designed play, working off a developed tendency. At the time, I had thought that McElroy screwed up the handoff, because he handed it off in such a way that the running back did not have the option to cut to the left. However, on closer inspection, the initial fake is to the fullback up the middle, then he breaks to the outside as a lead blocker and the QB turns to hand the ball off to the running back heading off tackle. Brandon Moore pulled outside and made a kickout block, while everyone else blocked straight ahead with the guys on the right side setting the edge. The Jets have run plenty of these off-tackle runs with two guys pulling, but a FB/RG combination was a different wrinkle. The second play was the same, apart from the fact that the extra tight end was on the left this time, so Austin Howard was the primary edge-setter rather than the extra tight end.

a57se
There was one run by Powell that was blocked as well as any Jets run I’ve seen this season, it was on the first McElroy possesion and it went for 17 yards, they ran the same play later in the drive and Powell got 10 yards down to the Cards 4 yard line. Where has that blocking been?

Yes, that’s the same one(s). The run blocking has slowly been coming along all year, but on those two plays it was Lex Hilliard who made the key lead block. He’s been particularly inconsistent, so for him that’s a valid question.

tsjc68
I think on the second run there, kudos go to Jason Smith for a nice interior kick-out block (if I’m remembering the play correctly). He’s rounding into shape, perhaps. I’m curious to see if we can bring him back on the cheap, his market has to still be pretty depressed. He’s a great 6th lineman, IMO.

It was actually Moore who made the interior kick out block (both times) but Smith did set the edge really well, turning his guy back to the inside, on the first of those two runs. He’s been pretty inconsistent, but that’s to be expected from a guy coming into and out of the game at irregular intervals. When Hunter and Robert Turner used to have a similar role, they were just as inconsistent. I don’t expect him to get much more than the minimum next season, wherever he goes.

R in CT
Do you sleep?

Not very often.

Dave TN
How about a breakdown of England’s destruction of the All Blacks on Saturday? Too bad it was unable to be watched on this side of the Atlantic due to greed and incompetence.

As a sign of how busy I’ve been, I never got to see it! That was a bizarre performance that seemed to come from nowhere.

Nick
Are you sure it wasn’t watchable on this side of the Atlantic out of, you know, non-existent interest?

Ouch.

Jason Fitzgerald
On Vlad- Check last weeks tape if you can. I thought last week they actually moved into the every 4th series deal but then it was thrown off when Moore went out. I could have sworn he didn’t enter until series 4 against New England.

Last week was completely different, as I noted in BGA – “They had a slightly different rotation for Ducasse this week. He didn’t play at all in the first half, but entered the game on the second possession of the second half at left guard (as the Jets drove down to the one and then failed to punch it in). The starters returned for the next series, but then Ducasse replaced Moore at right guard for the rest of the game, including one of the touchdown drives.”

I had assumed that this was a one-off adjustment in response to how the game was spiraling out of control, but we’ll have to keep an eye on it.

tish
A few quickies: (1) Has the overall quality of Davis shown any real improvement? (2) How can Ellis show any improvement when he is in for a handful of plays? (3) Even though McElroy threw only a few passes, none of them looked like they were thrown with a noodle arm? He obviously lacks the zip of the real gunners, but does Sanchez’ arm strength appear that much stronger? (4) How much of the Jets low sack total is attributable to the scheme rather than a lack of players who generate that special pressure?

(1) As I wrote in BGA, his playing time and performances have been so irregular that he’s hard to evaluate, but he’s shown flashes. He’s always looked good as a pass rusher, looks better than he did in preseason in the running game and while he hasn’t been great in coverage, I’d expect that to be something that improves as he gets more comfortable. He’s still not nearly as good as Bart Scott though, so he needs to ascend more quickly to be ready for next year. (2) I was impressed with Ellis earlier in the year, but right now (especially if he’s still limited by his knee issue), the veterans are more reliable than he is and for a head coach whose continued employment might depend on his end of year record, winning games is a priority over developing youngsters right now. (3) He had adequate zip on each of his throws, but wasn’t really under pressure, so it’s difficult to compare those throws where he steps into the throw or throws it on the run to some of Sanchez’s throws, like his initial interception off his back foot. (4) Part of it is that teams know that pressure is coming, so getting rid of the ball quickly is more of a focus than it would be for a team with a vanilla pass rush that didn’t blitz often. That still means it’s having a positive effect because you can set trap coverages or benefit from the ball being thrown away before a route can develop, but we’d all like to see more sacks and that requires people to win one-on-one matchups when they don’t blitz.

damion
The special teams has been anything but special over the last half a dozen games in fact since Joe McKnight took it to the house on Monday night against the Texans. This unit has been awful. Is it due to Westy being on his victory lap is he doing too much or not enough has he given the reigns over to Kotwica and we are seeing what life is gonna be like without him? Is it practice time, injuries, inexperience, or just plain stupidity?

I think injuries are a key factor, because every unit has a couple of guys that haven’t been with the team all year, so the unit isn’t as well-drilled as Westhoff would like. Some of the breakdowns have definitely been attributable to stupidity, though. I can’t argue with that. In the past, you could take for granted that such breakdowns were an aberration, but this year, it’s happening every single week.

Why Me
What’s the chance we switch to a 4-3 base D next year? It’s proven difficult for them to find quality 3-4 OLB’s ever since Mangini came to town and continues to be a problem. With the high price of good 3-4 FA OLB’s and a rather high rate for bust on OLB’s by way of the draft why not move on? We look rather loaded with young talent across the DL now and this draft is pretty full of true 4-3 DE’s it seems like the perfect time to make the switch. Davis, Harris and 1 of the current backup LBs should be able to handle the LB duties in a 4-3 while adding some mid round insurance in the upcoming draft.

If Rex stays, there’s no chance whatsoever that the Jets switch to a basic 4-3, because he’s going to run his hybrid defense no matter what. However, there is plenty of flexibility within that to run 4-3 looks (as they already do) and I would agree that the personnel seems better suited to that right now.

FloridaJetFansince67
I thought I saw where Hill was targeted 8 times and we know he caught 5. I don’t remember him dropping any. Can you confirm yeah or nay?

He didn’t drop any – the incompletions were a miscommunication where Hill ran a slant and Sanchez threw a bubble screen and McElroy’s first pass over the top that was incomplete. The other one was a mistake by NFL.com because Sanchez’s very last pass was batted down at the line, but it was clearly intended for Jeremy Kerley. Hill was also targeted on that play where he drew a penalty, but that doesn’t count officially.

metsman
“I don’t know if there will be any more games that I’ll enjoy as much as I did this one” This was a joke right?

Not at all. I just love low-scoring football games plus this had the added bonus of a fun second half comeback.

Marcus
I noticed that Coples seemed to be playing a disproportionately low number of snaps. Any idea why that would be the case? It seemed to me like the Arizona OL would be a good matchup to build up his confidence a little.

As I noted above with reference to Ellis, they’re putting the best guys on the field right now. It actually wasn’t a good game for guys like Coples and McIntyre to build their confidence because Ryan Lindley was getting rid of the ball so prematurely, it was almost impossible to get to him. Had they faced the Cardinals a month ago when their line was giving up bucketloads of pressure, I’d have agreed with you. Coples isn’t disgracing himself out there and shows one or two flashes every week, but it doesn’t look like his rookie year is going to be particularly productive from a statistical standpoint.

His snap count wasn’t really disproportionately low, he was just in on the units that played on passing downs and the Cardinals’ inability to sustain drives limited how many such downs arose.

Phil T.
Has Po’uha had back problems in the past? I’m glad to hear he is producing again and seems to be trending upwards, but it’s disconcerting that we haven’t seen the same consistent level of dominance from him as last year. Especially after he got his new contract.

Po’uha had back issues right at the end of the 2010 season and they definitely affected his play. In fact, with a healthy Po’uha, the Jets would probably have stopped the Steelers’ running game much better in the AFC Title Game and had a much better chance to win. In 2011, he was healthy throughout and was outstanding. It’s clear that the back issue (which I have it on good authority is really limiting him, even though he’s back in the lineup) is the only difference between him being outstanding and run-of-the-mill. The trouble is that back issues can linger and, for a player of Po’uha’s age, you’re taking a risk if you bring him back next year, because he might never be the same again.

a57se
Based on Cimini’s playing time numbers for the Jets defense, they averaged ~ 2.6 defensive linemen per snap…that seems rather low to me. Mo played 47 out of 54 snaps while DeVito played 33 out of 54 and no other linemen had more then 19…I wonder how much this has to do with injuries (Po’uha and Ellis) or just Rex and his crazy schemes?

It’s because Pace and Thomas played a lot of snaps as defensive ends. Most of the time, that was in 4-3 formations, but Thomas did also get some reps in a three man front. I do believe Po’uha and Ellis are having their reps monitored, but it’s just a product of them only having two (and sometimes one) interior linemen out there on a lot of the plays.

a57se
Do you think given the game situation, that Westhoff was too aggressive on the fake punt? The overload formation was an invitation to run to the right side of the offense…

Yes, although that was an insane risk from the Cardinals – 4th and seven at their own 25 in the last minute or so of the half with the scores tied at 0-0? If they fail there, that could easily have been the deciding factor. I guess Westhoff figured they’d never take that risk and decided to go for a block because the Jets had no intention of trying to score on offense in the last minute. However, that was pretty predictable based on what’s happened in similar situations this year and that’s probably why the Cardinals knew they could afford to take that risk.

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BGA will be back on Sunday with a pre-game experiment. Have a good weekend!