BGA Extra: Jets at Redskins

It’s time to take a final look back at Sunday’s win over the Redskins in BGA Extra – now with limited access to coaches film! After the jump, I respond to your questions from the comments in the original BGA post, which you can access here if you missed it.

revisfan:

No way was Smith supposed to be covering Armstrong down the field. That was his blown assignment on the Fred Davis catch I think.

That seems unlikely, because until Davis motioned to the edge of the line, Cromartie was lined up opposite him. That suggests that either he was in man coverage on him or they were in quarters-style zone coverage. Cromartie shifted over so he was opposite Armstrong, but it would be up to Leonhard to tell him whether he was in man coverage on a different guy or still responsible for the outside of the field. As nobody else shifted, this means nobody else’s responsibility changed. Smith can’t have had man to man responsibilities for Davis, because he lined up 15-20 yards away from him.

revisfan:

Does McIntyre butter his arms before every game? He seems to miss one huge tackle a game.

As I pointed out in preseason, he does miss a lot of tackles, but nearly all of them are in the backfield and end up redirecting a runner that otherwise could have had a much bigger gain. This week’s was no different.

I have no clue what he does to his arms, but if he could tighten up his tackling technique, he could start making a few impact plays.

revisfan:

Did you get deja vu when Cromartie almost returned that kick for a TD and the next play Greene runs it in when he should have taken a knee? Not sure what it means but I had a pleasant flashback to the Pats playoff game when that happened.

Yeah, I thought he was going to do the Go-To-Sleep again and was glad he didn’t. Also, for what it’s worth, I agree with Rex that he should have taken a knee – not to save injuries, but to clinch the win. Any time you’re less than TEN ahead and you can run the clock out, scoring is a negative, because although the other team scoring twice with an onside kick in between is highly improbable, losing the ball when taking a knee and then allowing the other team to score and then go on to win the game is far, far more unlikely. By taking a knee, you’re basically increasing your win probability from 95% to 99.9999999%. Doesn’t seem like much, but wait until it costs them a game.

revisfan:

What exactly is Pool’s role? He seems to play deep safety the most effectively of any of our safeties. He’s not great in man to man, but shows good awareness getting to the ball when it’s in the air. Should the jets use him more?

When he is deep, he seems to get confused and blow his assignment more often than anyone else. However, he does have better range and size than the other two. On Sunday, he actually was in man-to-man a few times and had mixed results. Essentially, the Jets don’t have anyone that can cover the elite tight ends in one-on-one matchups, but then hardly any teams do.

On Sunday, he was the third safety, as Leonhard and Smith played every snap. He spent 11 snaps as an in-the-box safety, 19 deep and four matched up with a back or TE in the slot or on the outside. I think the third safety role is probably still best for him. As bad as Smith has been this year, Pool scares me more.

revisfan:

I heard someone after the game, either Lagreca or Buttle on 1050 saying that Maybin was rushing inside on a bunch of plays and the jets were misusing his speed around the edge. How often did he blitz up the middle?

I’m not sure if they were talking about blitzing up the middle or just making an inside move. He did line up effectively as a middle linebacker three times to blitz up the middle, but otherwise he was on the outside and occasionally tried an inside move as he did on the sack. These moves often enable another player to stunt underneath and get pressure, or can open up the outside on a later play, so I wouldn’t say it was wasted. Although speed rushing is definitely his strength, he’d be too predictable if he always did that.

revisfan:

On the play where Grossman [got rid of] the ball and they did not call grounding after he was chased back about 20 yards, the announcers said it was because he was outside the tackle box, but doesn’t the ball have to reach the line of scrimmage regardless?

Not if there’s a receiver in the vicinity. He threw it at the feet of an eligible receiver.

Marvel:

Do you view Greene as a #1 back? Or is he better suited as the sidekick? He’s often injured & lacks elite speed. There was a eight yard run he had in the half & all I could think is “Helu would have gotten 15”, I know the grass is always greener, but the hole was huge.

I’d say he was a number one back. I liked seeing him carry it more than 20 times this week and it showed some toughness that he did that in spite of his rib injury and finished the game strongly. The injuries are a concern, but it’s not like he’s Darren McFadden, who is a more prolific back, but misses a handful of games each year – and earns a load more money.

He hasn’t lived up to the expectations we had for him following the 2009 playoffs, this year or last year, so he’s not an elite back but he is probably going to end up with a thousand yard season if he doesn’t get hurt again. (He’s on pace for 985 yards, but when you factor in that he missed a game and that he only needs to average 65 yards per game to get there, it seems inevitable). That’s not bad.

As for Helu, he looks good (and I liked him in college), but he’s a lot fresher than Greene right now. As we saw with Greene himself in 2009, you can look a lot more dangerous if you don’t start playing until the second half of the year when everyone else is banged up.

revisfan:

On the short flip to Greene on the TD drive, it looked as if they were trying to set up the same play that went to Holmes later. Mark dropped back looking to his left, pumped, but before he could step up was flushed to his right and had to check it down. Was it the same play, and if it was how did the Redskins fall for it, just two plays later?

Holmes ran the same route, but the difference was that the Redskins played zone on the first play, with both corners dropping off short and the safeties picking up their receivers deep. Reed Doughty picked up Holmes and he definitely wasn’t going to be open, even if the pressure didn’t force Sanchez to step up. On the one two plays later, OJ Atogwe was the safety on that side and he dropped off to the middle and left Josh Wilson one-on-one.

On the first play, the checkdown was the right decision and on the second one he made the correct throw to Holmes. Had he done the opposite on either, he’d have probably been picked off and everyone would be bashing the playcall, so this is a nice example of where Sanchez read the defense correctly in two different, but directly comparable situations.

revisfan:

I think the jets play far too conservative when they are inside the other teams 40. You can dink and dunk on your own side of the field, but once you get down there, you have to open it up for Mark. Worst that happens, he throws a long pick and it’s like a punt, but those passes are less likely to be picked than short passes over a congested middle of the field anyway. Jets have to start taking more shots in those situations. Four drives in the second half started inside Skins territory and we got three points before the TD. How many times did we see a long run on first down, only to have a second down run go for no gain and then an incomplete pass on third? Isn’t second and short the best time to go play-action down the field?

Sanchez has thrown four interceptions between the 50 and 20, so maybe they are not as conservative as you think inside the 40. Remember the Branch and Weddle picks?

A lot of people are complaining about the conservative offense, but they won the game, whereas not being conservative enough arguably cost them dearly in the Ravens and Broncos games. I’ve seen plenty of times where the Jets have set up deep routes and Sanchez decided, probably correctly, to check down, so it’s not necessarily true that the play call dictates where he throws. On Sunday, Washington played a lot of two-deep coverages, so they were actually taking away the downfield stuff a lot of the time.

Is 2nd and one a good play-action down? I understand why you’d think it would be – because failing still means you have the option to run the ball on 3rd and short. However, don’t you think the defense realizes this and therefore expects it? That reminds me of when Gregg Easterbrook says that a team was dumb for kicking on 4th and one, and should have run a fake punt or fake field goal, not taking into account the fact that the defense is more likely to be ready for it. Also, when the Jets did throw on 2nd and one, everyone killed them for it.

The situation you described never actually happened. Here are the series where the Jets had less than three yards to go on 2nd down:

5:52 to go in first: seven yard run, one yard run, one yard run, one yard run for a first down on 4th and one.

8:12 to go in second: eight yard run, passed for a first down on 2nd down (actually off play action).

6:07 to go in second: eight yard run, followed by a three yard run for a first down on 2nd and short.

9:35 to go in third: eight yard run, one yard run, one yard run for a first down on 3rd and one.

10:30 to go in fourth: nine yard run followed by two incompletions and a punt.

7:46 to go in fourth: eight yard run, but then a penalty on second down. They did get the first down through the air after Sanchez scrambled for a short gain on second down.

This tells me that the playcalling wasn’t actually that bad in these situations, other than that one series in the fourth, where they went to play action on second down like you wanted them to and then threw again on third down. However, they were only four for eight in short yardage situations, so running on third and one wasn’t necessarily a sure thing.

matt:

Maybin seems to be getting pressure or double team…is there stats from him in the game to him not in the game on 3rd down…from this year and also last year? He causes havoc.

It would take me some time to produce that, so you might need to wait until the offseason. However, it’s not just on third down he’s wreaking havoc. He has a sack, two QB hits, two forced fumbles and seven pressures on first and second downs this year.

revisfan:

You said earlier in the season that Pace took over Bryan Thomas’ role. Does that limit how mush he gets to rush and is he still responsible for containing the edge as much as he used to be? It seems like I haven’t seen him as part of the rush in months.

Let’s look at the numbers. Last year, Thomas rushed the QB on 32% of his snaps. Pace did on 45%. This year, Pace has rushed the QB on 40% of his snaps, so there has been a bit of a drop-off. The major difference, though, is that Pace still stays in on passing downs, whereas Thomas didn’t very often. Pace’s snap percentage has increased from 84% to 94% this year, whereas Bryan Thomas only used to be in 57% of the time.

Ultimately, Pace does get to rush a lot and did have several pressures on Sunday – and has been much more productive in that area this year than last. Yes, he’s still vital to their edge-setting.

revisfan:

Was there a different gameplan for the o-line this week than there normally is, or was it just a mix of run and the short pass that kept them off balance? If it was something schematic, is that something that will translate to the 4-3 teams we have coming up on the docket (Hali/Houston, Cole/Babin, Tuck/Osi)?

They already changed up their protections (to good effect) for last week’s game. What was different this week was that they left an extra blocker in about twice as often.

You’ve inadvertently stumbled upon an interesting point…when was the last time they faced a pure 4-3 team? I don’t think they have since Oakland in week three. Yes, the Pats played a lot of 4-3 and many of their other opponents have used it, but the Raiders were the last ones to run it virtually all of the time. Looking back on that game, the Jets did a great job in the first half, but gave up five sacks in the second half, although a few of those would perhaps not have happened with Nick Mangold in rather than Baxter. Hopefully Mangold will be able to help out whenever either tackle gets beaten in these upcoming games.

Although he should be back in time for their game with the Jets, it’s worth noting that Osi Umenyiora has a badly sprained ankle, so it may be Jason Pierre-Paul that they end up facing. Also, the Chiefs have actually been playing 3-4.

revisfan:

One of the weirdest things from this game happened right in the beginning, and I’m surprised no one is talking about it. I wonder if you picked up on it. On the Jets’ first drive, Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts were talking about the Jets gameplan and thay said that Schottenheimer told them before the game that he was going to use the rollout and the screen to limit the rush and I heard Rex tell reporters before the game that they should expect some wildcat. As soon as they said that, Mark rolls out for a short completion, next play was the screen to LT, later on the drive they went wildcat, which didn’t seem to fool the skins. The opening drive is usually scripted and the announcers sounded as if they were reading from the script, why would the jets divulge their exact plan and how much did the Redskins know? Most of the time I appreciate the jets’ candor but they have to stop telling the opponent what they are going to do. It’s almost as if they are so confident you wont be able to stop them anyway that it won’t make a difference. This is why Belichick is who he is, he doesn’t reveal anything and if the media is saying the Patriots will run all over a team, they’ll come out and surprise everyone with ten straight passes till that team commits to stopping it. By the way, I think Mark rolled out once more the rest of the game and they used one more screen pass.

There’s a lot of that going on. On the Sunday night game, they showed actual footage of the Saints offensive meeting where they were discussing what they’d do if they got down inside the 10! Sure, they didn’t show it until after they scored their first touchdown, but what if they got down there again?

Ultimately, I guess teams aren’t too scared about revealing some details, because they want the other team to scramble to prepare for those things, which they may not use that much – as you noted yourself, they stopped doing some of these things and perhaps it was all a ploy to get the defense thinking about one thing and then hit them with something else. As a defense, if you think you KNOW what the other team is going to run, that can be dangerous. I’m sure Josh Wilson KNEW the Jets would look for Holmes on a quick slant late in the fourth, and you saw what happened there.

As for Belichick, everybody knows what they’re going to do. They basically do the same thing every week and execute well and get the job done. If he came out and said “Guess what, we’re going to [do all the things we usually do]” I don’t think it would make any difference.

In terms of screen passes, they continue to do a pretty good job with those. They actually ran four for 29 yards (and one other that failed when Greene fell over).

revisfan:

Do you think David Harris deserves to go to the Pro Bowl? I know Rex said so last week and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, but he just doesn’t strike me as a force on the defense, just a real solid tough player. I don’t think he plays to the caliber of Derrick Johnson, Ray Lewis or even Brian Cushing. Is he overrated by Jets fans?

I hesitate to generalize about how overrated he is among Jet fans, because it varies from fan to fan. I actually don’t think he deserves a Pro Bowl on the strength of this year. I still think he’s in that second tier of inside linebackers that are not elite, but still vital members of their team. He’s a fringe Pro Bowler and this hasn’t been his best season, but he’s still critical to their success and performs his role better than the majority of his peers.

I agree with you about Cushing and of course Johnson, who we’ll see this week. I’ve always thought Ray Lewis is a little overrated and, although he’s having a very good year – certainly better than Harris – it’s interesting that the Ravens defense doesn’t seem to have missed a beat with him out.

neal:

Why does Sanchez sail so many throws? Especially ones downfield. Is it mechanics or is he just inaccurate?

Sometimes it is mechanics, especially when he’s pressured. However, that’s not necessarily always the case. For example, on that series where they had 2nd and one but passed twice, he had plenty of time and stepped into his throw with seemingly faultless technique, but his pass still sailed high and might have been picked off if Keller didn’t get a finger on it.

bob:

Can you do a piece on the progress of Vladimir Ducasse?

Now that they’re giving him some reps at tight end, it’s good to see him come on the field, do a solid job and then leave again with no reason to be negative. Yes, they’re easy assignments, and he doesn’t play very often, but that’s got to be a confidence builder and now if he does get called upon to fill in, they won’t be throwing him out there unprepared quite so much. It actually reminds me of how they used Matt Slauson in 2009.

He’s played 28 snaps as an extra tight end since week six and has filled in as a backup on the line on four separate occasions (31 snaps), either due to injuries or in garbage time.

Did anyone see Guy Whimper line up as an eligible extra tight end and catch a pass for 17 yards on Monday Night Football? He even juked Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle out of his socks. Maybe they should run that play for Vlad.

die hard fan:

I know this might be a lot of work but if you could find out Sanchez’s season stats for passes in the 4-5 WR sets on 2nd and 3rd and short. Seems like nothing good ever happens when they go to this set in this situation.

Even on that notorious eight yard run/incompletion/incompletion series in the fourth quarter, they didn’t actually revert to the four WR set. They had a FB and a TE in on second down and two TE’s in on second down.

Again, this is something that might have to wait until the offseason, but Sanchez’s numbers on 3rd and short have been better than you might expect in the past. He was 8 for 12 last year and 9 of 14 as a rookie. This year hasn’t been quite so good (7 for 15), but he is 4 of 5 on second and short.

Jack:

Should we expect Westerman to start on Sunday over McIntyre now and Dixon to start over Ellis if Devito is out again? Is it normal for players like these to be so inconsistent from week-to-week? Westerman had a big impact statistically speaking, but should this do much to dampen my worries that he lacks football instincts?

I still think I’d prefer McIntyre to start because he is more disciplined. Westerman seems like the sort of player that can come off the bench and make plays when the defense isn’t quite so fresh. He was actually totally unblocked on two of the three good plays he made on Sunday.

I’d say it’s definitely common for backups to be inconsistent from week-to-week. In fact, their playing time is also up and down, which can’t help. I still think they’ll start with Tevaseu or Ellis and move Pouha to the nose tackle position, but the likes of Pitoitua and Dixon will still see plenty of playing time regardless of whether DeVito is back.

Jack:

Was Cromartie back to field another kick? What is the deal with Westhoff’s love affair with him? If we lose one of the next few games due to a special teams fumble especially by Cromartie, I will not forgive him. Westhoff seems too rational to make this mistake over and over all season long. In fact, it’s hard to believe that as fans we all fear Cromartie back there but the ST coach is fine despite the past fumble of the KO in Oakland, which led directly to a loss, as well as the muffed punt. I don’t even think he should be on the hands team to pick up the ball and run during an onside kick. He could easily make a bad read and fumble it to the opposing team. Is this a fair criticism of Westhoff?

Cromartie is McKnight’s backup with Bilal Powell inactive, so he dropped back there when McKnight hurt his elbow. They actually benefited, because the Redskins kicked short to avoid him and Josh Baker made a nice return. I think they will give the job to Cromartie on Sunday unless McKnight can go and I am much less frightened of him fielding a kickoff than I am of him fielding a punt, despite what happened in Oakland.

nick:

Aside from the TD to Holmes, the Jets rarely, if ever, threw downfield. Was this due to good downfield coverage, conservative playcalling, Sanchez not seeing open receivers, or him taking what the defense was giving him?

As regular readers will know, when I get a question in this format, the answer is always that it’s a combination of these factors.

As I noted, until the Holmes touchdown, Sanchez was just one of eight on passes beyond ten yards. However, this means he was 17 for 23 on short passes, so a lot of it was that they were taking away the downfield stuff and Sanchez was actually doing a pretty good job of taking what the defense gave him.

Tamba_Trio:

Why do you think Sanchez is consistently losing accuracy as the game progresses? His accuracy is usually pretty good in the first half (as on Sunday, and at Denver and Buffalo are other examples) but often gets worse after half time. Is this play calling? Taking more shots down field? Or just Sanchez losing confidence?

Say it with me: It’s a combination of these factors.

It’s not that consistent – in the Bills game last week, he went 5 of 15 to start with, then hit 13 of his last 20.

They definitely open the game with more short, safe routes. It’s been a pattern over the course of his career that his percentages are highest at the start of games and his yards per attempt starts off low and gets higher later on.

nick:

It may just be me but I cringe every time I see the Jets come out in shotgun on 3rd and short. I feel like more has to go right for a completion than a two or three yard run and because we never run from the shotgun, we are telling the defense we are going to pass. Either from this game or from the season, do the jets have more success on third and short out of the shotgun or running?

As noted, they were four of eight when they ran in short yardage situations and one for three when they passed, although these were not all from the shotgun. They do sometimes run from the shotgun, although they didn’t this week – not including the Seminole runs of course.

It’s not just you – sometimes I cringe too, and I know it drives many people crazy, although they’ve used the QB draw quite well in that situation and the percentages when they do pass haven’t been that bad over the last three years. I’ve reasoned in the past that perhaps Sanchez sees the field better from a shotgun.

On Sunday, the only time they went to a shotgun formation on third and short was on third and a long three early in the fourth. Sanchez checked down to Conner who was stopped short of the marker.

Matt:

Was the TD to Holmes the Jets longest passing play touchdown of the year? It seems they rarely throw downfield and so the safeties can really cheat up.

Holmes had a 38-yarder against Miami, although this was a crossing route with a lot of yards after the catch.

Maybe they aren’t throwing downfield because the safeties are deep, giving support to the cornerbacks. That seems to be the case more often than not.

Jimmy:

I noticed Sanchez seemed to check down a lot more this week than last week. Any numbers to back up my observation?

He did throw quite a few short passes, but most of these appeared to be designed quick routes or late developing screen passes. In fact, until the game-winning drive where he twice checked down to Greene, I would say only one of his completed passes – a 3rd and nine throw to Kerley coming across the middle – appeared to be dumped off to a secondary option.

Jimmy:

I also noticed Maybin lined up on the inside at least once. What’s the idea of lining up an edge rusher up the middle?

The idea is to try and get pressure up the middle!

Why you might do that against a team like the Redskins is because they have a good blindside protector in Trent Williams, so you match up Maybin opposite a bigger lineman and hope he can use his speed to get a step on him, or maybe try to create some confusion with a stunt. It can also cut out a passing lane over the middle better than if you had a spread out pass rush. Just variation, basically!

WOJF:

Can Leonhard returns kick as well? Have there been any good KO Returns lately? In our discussion earlier in the year I predicted that early season success would even out, seems is has, perhaps its time to stop returning those kicks from the end zone?

Leonhard’s skill set isn’t ideally suited for kickoff returns. It lends itself well to punt returns, because he is small and quick, so he might sneak through a gap and turn a five yard return into a ten yard return, but he doesn’t have the kind of acceleration you’d like your kickoff returner to have.

He could do it, but his main value in returning punts is that they trust him to catch it.

He has done it before and his stats aren’t very impressive – although I have no idea how many of these returns were as an upback rather than a primary return man. He had a 36 yard return on his only return attempt as a rookie and since then, he’s only exceeded 20 yards (and never 30) on three of 11 returns for a career average of just 21.3.

Kick returns have slowed, as you predicted. Sunday was a low point though – prior to that, McKnight had at least a 38 yard return in four straight games.

WOJF:

Where is Pouha rated at NT by PFF? I keyed on him most of the game and he was an exporting beast, moving the pocket or holding he line at worst. even when double teamed. He is playing at pro bowl level, wondering if it shows up in the rankings?

Yes, it does. He’s number one against the run and number two overall.

WOJF:

Copied this from SI article, did not see posted anywhere on this site, would love your response to Schotty’s boast and the writers comparison to Brees;

“Several coaches expressed concern about measuring a quarterback’s effectiveness in touchdowns and interceptions. “As an offensive coordinator and a playcaller, I can make Mark Sanchez throw for 350 yards,” says Schottenheimer. “But is that what’s best for us to win games? I think the answer to that is no.”

Sanchez, Flacco, Ryan and Freeman are on teams whose identity revolves around running the football and playing attacking, physical defense. As rookies they often were put in positions that didn’t require great risk and told not to take chances. Throw the ball away if a play wasn’t there, then come back and fight on the next play or next series. Now people want them to flip a switch and join Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady as elite passers. Will they? Can they?

The Chargers gave up on Brees after a terrible third season (second as the full-time starter) and made a draft-day trade for quarterback Philip Rivers. Brees, who was playing in the same offense as Sanchez, responded with a Pro Bowl season in Year 4 and has been one of the game’s best passers since, particularly after signing with New Orleans in 2006.”

I can sort of see his point. Sanchez did throw for 350 in the loss to Oakland and nearly 350 in the near-loss to Dallas. Could he achieve this every week by throwing downfield? Perhaps, but it would likely come at the cost of a worse TD:INT ratio. I sometimes feel like some fans would rather see him go 23 for 52 with 360 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions and lose 38-24, but you know me by now – I want to win 13-10 every week.

Maybe he’ll be an elite passer one day and maybe he’ll never get close to that, but both options are still on the table and anyone who says they know what will happen is lying, guessing or being foolish. Better QBs than Sanchez at this stage of his career have ended up as flops, whereas there are QBs he has had a similar start to his career to that have gone on to be really good.

WOJF:

Had Sanchez and Schotty left 58 seconds on the clock for Rodgers how much criticism would they be taking? How did the Giants not run the ball on first and second down with 1st and goal from the 2 yd line and GB having one TO remaining? I have not seen a single mention of this, anywhere, if it was the Jets it would be a cover page story.

Good point.

joeyboy79:

The jets don’t seem stout against the run, which was their strong point for the last two seasons. What do you think is the reason for this?

They had the number three run defense last year and were down to 15th entering the Redskins game, so it certainly seems like a drop-off. However, 15th is misleading, because opposing teams have carried the ball way more this year. Yards per carry is a better indicator and they were 8th. For what it’s worth – they were also 8th in PFF’s rankings.

The drop off is easily explained. I attribute it to the fact that they took a couple of games to adjust to the loss of Bryan Thomas, a key edge setter. As you’ll recall, they had problems setting the edge over the next few weeks, but that’s been fixed now for the most part. In the Raiders game, the failure to set the edge led to several huge plays, including a 70-yarder. Hardly emblematic of their weekly performances. Omit that from the numbers as an obvious outlier and it basically accounts for the entire drop off.

On Sunday, they had a bit of a setback, which I attribute to the fact that DeVito wasn’t playing. However, even then, the Redskins only had 40 yards on their last 14 carries, so they figured it out.

joeyboy79:

I am high on Maybin, but I still think we need an every down pass rusher that teams have to game plan for. It is not just about sacks but constant pressure to the QB and a player that a QB has to fear. I don’t see Maybin as this type of player, just situational. Do you think his play satisfies our true need for a natural pass rush?

The Jets desperately needed a situational pass rusher and Maybin has proven to be better at this than Westerman – who himself seems to have picked up his game since Maybin’s (re-) arrival. One step at a time, I say. I’d leave it up to the team to determine whether to go an impact edge rusher in the offseason, or whether they can develop Maybin to become just that.

elite:

What’s the jets longest play from scrimmage this season? They don’t seem to ever bust a play for long yardage in either the run or pass?

Tomlinson had a 70+ yard gain on a screen pass against the Raiders, but I believe that’s the only play over 40 yards they’ve had.

Chris r:

How can a WR and RB DROP so many punts? How is it we have to have a safety catch punt returns? No need to answer I just am mind boggled by how terrible Kerley and McKnight have been.

Catching punts at the NFL level is not easy. Still, Mike Westhoff of all people should know this, so I still can’t get over the fact they have one of the rare few that never seems to screw up – remember, Leon even muffed a few in his time here – but they keep trotting other guys out there.

Ironically, Kerley probably doesn’t lose his fumble if Leonhard – lined up just in front of him – doesn’t get trucked.

pound4pound:

Do you have any ideas on why Sanchez tends to be so inconsistent and mediocre for the first 3.5 quarters, and then consistently turns it on late? Do you think it’s a rhythm thing? Does he maybe do better when he has less time to think before each play, and just does it? Or is there a shift in the Jets’ playcalling late in games that Sanchez feels more comfortable with?

Altogether now: It’s a combination of all these factors.

Does he consistently turn it on late though, or is this a myth brought about by several fourth quarter comebacks, in some of which he didn’t even play that well?

His fourth quarter completion percentage drops to less than 53%, although he does have eight TDs and only one interception. After his first 20 attempts, his completion percentage is just 52%. Last year, his completion percentage in the fourth quarter was just 46% and his passer rating just 55.5 though.

Having said that, he’s likely to be passing more, so you can live with a lower completion percentage as long as you’re still moving the chains once every three throws. One other factor might just be that when teams are trailing, they sit back in a softer zone that he finds easier to exploit than a base defense.

wunky:

Seeing Sanchez adjust his shoulder a couple times on the sideline still makes me uncomfortable (even tho all QBs do that) — he still looks like he might be in a little pain in his elbow or shoulder from either the Jacksonville hit or another one where he was worked out on the sideline. They are so protective of announcing his injuries (they didn’t say how bad his shoulder was last year vs Pitts, the whole concussion thing week 1, the elbow bruise week 2, the broken nose week 3…) So once again, I’m still leading the conspiracy theory that Sanchez is more injured than he is letting on (come join me!). As I’ve said before, it’s more of a hunch than knowing any facts, and I’m sure we’ve all noticed his deep balls are more affected than anything else.

I know I’m nearly alone on this (then again I was nearly alone in 2008 with Favre’s injury), but is there ANYTHING you notice from the video that would indicate any type of injury compensation, especially on the longer throws? Back in 2008, that’s what I had noticed about Favre — that he was no longer throwing deep (even though they were still winning) and he was short-arming everything.

I was right with you on Favre. I knew he was hurt, because pretty much every time someone ran a crossing route, he threw it behind them. I haven’t seen any similarly alarming patterns develop with Sanchez, but I don’t doubt he’s banged up and it’s affecting him. The lack of long bombs is certainly curious.

Justin:

Was the offensive game plan much different in your view? I was dumbfounded by some of the calls. It seemed, on 1st downs, we had a bunch of 7-8 yd gains to put us in a 2nd and short situation. The ensuing plays (2nd and 3rd downs) all seemed like five step drops/shotgun with Sanchez trying to go deep instead of just pounding the ball for a first down or going with quick reads/slants. It didn’t seem like a usual Schotty called game.

Your last comment surprises me, because I thought throwing too much on third down was something everyone says Schottenheimer does. As I outlined above, this hardly happened – it’s just one of those things people hate so much that as soon as they see it happen, it tends to stick in the memory.

They did have a lot of designed short passes and not much downfield, but on the whole – other than the Seminole plays – there wasn’t a dramatic difference from the usual take-what-the-defense-gives-you philosophy.

Justin:

LB’s definitely shined in this game, Scott had a nice break up of a would be TD, and Harris had some good hits. But can we catch the damn ball? It seems like we drop 1 or 2 picks a game.

Actually, a few weeks ago, the Jets were leading the league in interceptions by linebackers (and may well still be), so that’s perhaps slightly unfair.

njdpelc:

I have something very important for you to look at here. On one of Ducasse’s plays it appeared he got so lost he couldn’t even find his spot in the huddle. On that play did he seem to know his assignment or just didn’t screw anything up?

Haha, yes, I saw it. He actually did a great job on that play, which was a fourth and one FB dive play to Conner. Had they handed the ball to Greene, Ducasse had driven his guy – Ryan Kerrigan – off the line and turned him to the outside, while Wayne Hunter turned his guy to the inside, creating a huge hole. That might even have been a 16 yard touchdown. However, both their blocks were inconsequential, because Conner plowed ahead up the middle.

john:

I thought Sanchez played very well the first half…he was 11 for 14 albeit for only 98 yards but he took what the D gave him. They had two scoring drives which is more than they usually have and 0 turnovers (on offense). I got the sense but really couldn’t tell watching the game with no sound (Sports bar in Houston so the Texans game was the background) that Washington made some adjustments at halftime taking away what worked in the first half and that it took our playcaller until halfway through the fourth Quarter to catch up. The whole offense was out of sync from halftime not just Sanchez…did you see anything in Washington’s approach that may account for this?

It’s difficult to pinpoint anything specific. They mixed up their coverages a lot in the second half, dropping guys back into zone, sometimes having a safety up on Keller, sometimes having both deep, occasionally having the corners play zone coverage and so on. There was only a couple of times that Sanchez failed to hit an open guy, so I guess the defense deserves some credit. It’s not like they were only rushing four all the time, either.

Rich:

I think the reason Sanchez plays better at the end is that the faster tempo forces him to release the ball quicker than usual. Anyway to determine this? Compared to Brees (who does everything fast) or Brady (who seems to flick it like Marino did), it seems like it takes Sanchez longer to wind up and get rid of the rock, and that’s why he gets a lot of balls batted down and gives the safety time to adjust. Eli seems to have a long windup too, but much better arm than Sanchez. Any thoughts?

I’ve always thought Sanchez was (a) streaky and (b) at his best when being decisive. Therefore, the urgency of an end of game situation might mean he HAS to be decisive and also that he can get into a rhythm easier due to the fact that every play has that same urgency. I’m not sure we have the technology to analyze release speeds, but I’m sure it must have been covered on Sports Science at some point. What you’re saying seems to make sense.

dgray:

My question revolves around Sanchez. Many people feel he has regressed this year – that the game seems harder for him and that he looks lost at times. Thank heaven he still has some fourth quarter magic in his body or I don’t know what we’d do.

When I think about assessing a QB, there are three areas I look at:

1 – Reading – the ability to understand the defensive set up, to diagnose the holes and favorable match-ups, and to understand defensive tendencies and masks

2 – Tempo & Awareness – the ability to create momentum and capitalize on it, to avoid big negative plays (sacks, fumbles, ints, etc), and to utilize the clock well

3 – Execution – the ability to consistently throw the ball with the right pace, in the right place, to the right receiver

When I go through that list, there are so many problems with Sanchez, it’s infuriating. While he has his brilliant moments, the negatives seem disproportionately large compared to league leading QBs. In the end Sanchez feels like a league average QB with (at times) some good intangibles.

How would you comment on Sanchez across those three criteria?

I disagree that he’s regressed. Everyone seems to be forgetting all about some of his worse games from last year – even some of those in which he provided late game heroics. However, I do think the lockout has stymied his progress and he is still way too inconsistent.

What I will say is that some of his mistakes are still terrible. I’d have hoped to see him eradicate some of those by now – especially when he kept repeating the same thing in terms of not seeing a defender come off their man to jump his route.

He’s inconsistent in all three areas you identified and he still isn’t playing as well as he did earlier in the year, even with these two wins.

I’d agree, his intangibles are all that separate him from any other middle-of-the-road QB right now, although I still consider that he has plenty of potential.

Eamon418:

Does Maybin ever drop back in coverage? I’m wondering if he has the skills to cover some of the tight ends we’ve been having trouble with. He matches up in terms of size with guys like Gronkowski and Hernandez but staying with them in open field might be a lot different than speed rushing against an OT.

Maybin was a DE in college and when he was with the Bills he rushed the passer on literally 99% of pass plays. When he has dropped into coverage, it’s literally just been dropping back and standing in an area just in case the ball is thrown that way. I’ve never seen him given an assignment where he has to cover someone like Calvin Pace sometimes does. Maybe he has the athletic ability to do so, but I’m almost certain he has hardly ever practiced it.

jet4lif:

I think a lot of three & outs happened yesterday due to passing from shotgun in the 3rd down and short situation. Are there stats around the success of these plays? I’d rather have a QB rollout or at least a RB in the back even if there are passes made.

Hopefully I’ve covered this adequately already. They did have four three and outs, although one ended with a field goal attempt rather than a punt. However, only one of them saw them pass from the shotgun on third and a long three. Another saw them pass on third and one, but not from the shotgun.

jet4lif:

Would the success of Fred Davis be the same reason that Patriots TE’s succeeded too? Maybe this is an alarming concern.

Davis is (was – he was just suspended) having a great season and many teams would struggle to stop him. One difference is that they were without Pool the last time they played New England, so they tried him on Davis, although he didn’t have much success, giving up a first down catch. In fact, they tried a variety of people – he was targeted 12 times with eight different defensive players covering him and six of them gave up one catch each. Donald Strickland had the most success, holding him to one catch on four targets, but the one he did give up was a 30-yarder and I wouldn’t trust him to cover Gronkowski.

Per Football Outsiders, the Jets rank 27th against tight ends, so it is a concern, although they’ve faced a murderer’s row of them this season.

The NYC Parking Expert (comments presented by Aflac):

You wrote “He’d better buck his ideas up from now on, though, otherwise he could be the reason they don’t make it.” Never heard “He’d better buck his ideas up from now on…” before. You make that one up?

Sigh. Every now and then I let my Britishness slip. (The last time was when I suggested Nick Mangold was “back to full fitness”). I’d like to say I did it deliberately but, alas, no.

The NYC Parking Expert (comments presented by Aflac):

After Smith’s fumble recovery, it looked like he didn’t go down until about the 20 yard line, but after the challenge the ball was spotted at the 29. Was that because of the whistle being blown when the referee thought that the ground caused the fumble?

Yes, the whistle went, but the Jets recovered it immediately in the action following the whistle, similar to what happened with Cromartie’s muff last week. You get the ball at the point of the recovery, but the play is over, so the return yardage is lost, by rule. Again, the officials cost us there, because Nick Folk might not have missed the go-ahead field goal from 10 yards closer. You can’t actually return a muff, so it wouldn’t have mattered last week anyway.

The amount of times the Jets have been screwed this year is ridiculous. I’m not being a homer in saying that, am I?

PSuLking:

Is there a stat that shows approximate percentage of away fans at games? When we were tailgating and in the stands, it seemed like Jets fans made up about 35-40% of the crowd. I’ve been to my fair share of away games, but have never seen anything like what I saw on Sunday. Made me so proud to be a Jet fan!

I don’t believe they keep those stats, but I’d imagine the Steelers lead the league, closely followed by the Cowboys. Again, this week’s road fans did a great job.

Antwan:

Can we have Tim Tebow vs Mark Sanchez’s QBR (or stats) with 5 min or less to go in a game (career)? And also, how many times was Mark’s 1st or 2nd downfield option covered?

That’s another one that perhaps should go in a file for after the season. By then we’ll have a more realistic sample size for Tebow, anyway. As noted above, I only had him down for three completed checkdowns – the rest of the short passes were by design. Obviously he threw a few into coverage too, so I guess they also count.

Steve L:

In the 4th quarter, Greene rushed for nine yards on first down, but they passed the next two plays and had to punt. What would be the justification for ignoring the need for a first down?

I don’t think they were ignoring the need for a first down. Having had four short yardage runs stuffed over the course of the game, they perhaps felt they could surprise the defense by passing. Bad call each time, but at least they made up for it on their next possession.

SackDance99:

What were your thoughts about the Wildcat? I have two observations. First, I think Rex wants the Wildcat to inject some dynamism into the running game. Because I don’t think the 2011 Jets run enough (like on 3rd and 1!?!), I was okay with the Wildcat, in small doses. Second, the “QBs” that are good in the Wildcat tend to be bigger than the average RB. Brad Smith, Ronnie Brown and Tebow are the best at the Wildcat that I’ve seen over the years and they are all 6-0 or taller. So, IMO, Kerley is too short and slight, while Greene has the right bulk, but maybe not enough height. So, if I had to choose who I’d like to see run the Wildcat, it would be Greene because he’d be the hardest to bring down, if he chooses to run. But, here’s an idea. Josh Baker ran the Wildcat in college and, at 6-3, 244 lbs., he’d have the height and bulk that, IMO, a Wildcat QB needs in the NFL. Any thoughts?

Based on PFF’s research, the list of QB’s that are good in the Wildcat looks like this:

Brad Smith.

Anyway, Seminole plays are always fun for me to review because there are so many different variations and the fact that they used a variety of different guys was an interesting wrinkle.

Baker is an interesting idea, but I will say that I thought Kerley did a good job with it in preseason. I liked his slippery quickness. Having said that, he made an awful read/pitch on Sunday and has already been a bit fumble prone.

I don’t mind it in small doses, either, I think it adds a dynamic edge to the running game, although I don’t expect to see any great successes with it now that Brad Smith is a Bill.

ShriekMan:

A couple of Sanchez questions.

1) Vision. Sanchez seems to be having problems with vision identifying defenders by looking over the OL and the DL. Won’t dropping back like Brees does, help Sanchez? It also seems to help the Saints protect Brees better because of how deep he drops back. The inside rush is all but eliminated by dropping back that far back. I am surprised that Schotty has not suggested it to Sanchez considering that he worked with Brees before.

2) Trajectory. I’ve noticed that Sanchez tries to throw the ball really hard and flat on mid to long yardage throws. I think this is why he has a lot of tipped balls and interceptions not to mention he misses receivers a lot on long throws. Would he not do better to “drop the ball in the bucket”, I’ve heard it called “down the chimney” on long throws, with more touch? This seems too obvious for nobody to have mentioned it to him.

It may be that he does a job better that I think he does on these two aspects. But, I’d like to hear what you see when breaking down film.

I think you make two good points. Maybe they don’t drop him back often purely because that would make the throw longer and therefore hang in the air for longer and they don’t trust his arm strength or ability to not turn it over. As for the trajectory, I just don’t think he has the same touch or accuracy as some of the elite quarterbacks in the league. However, the ball he threw to Holmes was a beauty. Had he zipped that one low and allowed Wilson to jump up and get a fingertip on it, that would have been a missed opportunity.

Oddly enough, when he goes deep, I often think he puts too much air under the ball.

JetFanOverseas:

As several others have alluded to, the Jets never throw long. Can you check how many passes of 40-plus yards Sanchez has attempted this year (it must be last in the league, by my estimation). From analyzing the tapes, has this not led to opposing defenses playing closer, which just leads to more crowded throwing lanes for Sanchez, more risk-taking by DB’s to undercut short routes (and thus pick-sixes), and less rushing yardage? It would seem that by “protecting” Sanchez and not letting him throw deep, Schotty has actually contributed to his inability to find open receivers and increased his interceptions (esp. pick-sixes).

We don’t know for certain that the reason he isn’t throwing deep is the playcalling though, do we? I’ve seen many attempts to send a guy deep that have ended with Sanchez deciding to check down, or having to escape pressure so the opportunity evaporates. Off the top of my head there was one in the Bills game and one in the Chargers game where the latter happened. Sanchez deciding to check down could be because he sees that the receiver didn’t get open. That could be a product of the fact that the running game hasn’t been good enough for the play action to be effective until recently, because that’s how they got people deep over the last few seasons. Or maybe he doesn’t trust his arm because he’s hurt. We don’t know.

Sanchez is actually 0 for 3 on 40+ yard throws per ESPN. He’s 1 for 5 on passes more than 30 yards downfield.

Last year, he was 1 for 13 on 40+ yard throws with one interception. His only completion was a 74 yard TD to Braylon Edwards. He was 4 for 16 on 30+ yard throws, with no touchdowns and two picked off. Statistically, they don’t seem to be losing too much, but – as you say – there could be a knock-on effect on how well the rest of the offense works.

JetFanOverseas:

Do the Jets script their first 15 plays, like so many teams do? If so, shouldn’t we assume that the offense’s slow starts (esp. from Sanchez) are due at least in part to lousy and unimaginative playcalling from Schotty?

Yes, apparently they do, although it was reported that all the plays are discussed with Sanchez beforehand and he has the right to veto any that he doesn’t like. I’m sure the whole coaching staff is involved in the scripting of plays, anyway.

As I’ve observed in the past, when drives stall early in games, it’s nearly always due to an individual mistake.

JetsImpact414:

Do you think that Sanchez had his “career saving moment” on that 3rd and 4 play to Greene? Without that play that he made with his feet to step up into the pocket the Jets have to settle for a FG and may not win the game. BTW, that TD pass to Holmes was a thing of beauty and that is why Mark is still our QB.

It was a great play and the touchdown pass was great too, but I think we’re a long way off from Sanchez’s career being on the line. If they lost on Sunday, I’m sure Rex would have immediately said how “He’s our guy” and confirmed that he’ll be leading the Jets next year. It would be pretty harsh to dump Sanchez for not making the playoffs when he would only be two for three.

blood clot rasta:

I call plays for a Texas HS football team. As a general rule, it’s tough to live by the short stuff (all stops, slants etc) because if your first target isn’t open the coverage will tighten up and essentially nobody will be open by the time the QB is ready to hit his next read. It seems like Sanchez is being told to deliver the ball quickly, only the defense expects this and sits on all the short routes. Watching on TV, it looks like: A. most of the plays are designed to be thrown inside a 10 yard box and B. ‘nobody is ever open’. Is the Jets offense really that amateurish, or have we all just been conditioned to believe so by questionable playcalling/execution?

I’d agree that, on Sunday at least, a lot of the short passes were by design. The Denver game was similar. In both, Sanchez only had three incompletions in the first half and they missed opportunities to build a decent lead. However, I’m not sure that this is so much a choice they’ve decided upon as much as it’s a reaction to the Redskins (and Broncos) safeties playing deep to dissuade downfield throws. In both games, the opposing team was not much of a threat offensively, so perhaps a conservative gameplan was appropriate.

However, it’s clear they aren’t throwing downfield as much this year and that’s an ongoing pattern. I went into the possible reasons why above – and, yes, questionable playcalling/execution is one. That doesn’t really explain why they did it a lot last year, but not this year, though.

mikebe1:

What position needs a veteran free agent and what position needs a youthful rookie on the jets overall?

I’d say getting a veteran safety would be better than a rookie, due to the complexity of the Jets’ system. Would you want a rookie starting back there? I wouldn’t.

As a general rule, I feel that wide receivers often don’t make an immediate impact as rookies, but pass rushers and inside linebackers do.

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