BGA Extra: Jets at Steelers

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 big loss to the Steelers. 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.

• Prof. Esq
Do you have the numbers for before and after Sanchez was hit in the head? Before the hit, Sanchez looked good and the offense was clicking. After he was hit, the ball was all over the place and the jets didn’t do very much. There was no mention of a concussion or anything like that, but we have seen in the past that after a big hit Sanchez starts to get happy feet.

Several people asked this. I can confirm that it was on his first pass of the second drive. He was 4-for-5 for 80 yards on the first drive and 6-for-22 for 58 yards thereafter. So, on the face of it, you could definitely pinpoint this as a turning point.

Yes, he misfired to Holmes in the endzone a few moments later. However, he also had he deep throw to Stephen Hill which was an accurate, confident throw. Also, when I watched the footage, Sanchez didn’t seem to be that badly affected by Timmons’ hit. He just raised up onto one knee, took a second to compose himself and then got to his feet. We’ve seen him down for much longer than that on previous plays. A further slow-motion review of the hit shows the his head doesn’t snap back when Timmons’ helmet collides with his – rather it seems to be a glancing blow that turns Sanchez’s head to the side and maybe looks worse than it was because the helmet twisted around slightly while still on his head.

So, yes, Sanchez took the hit and played nowhere near as well as he had before it, but I don’t know that I’m 100% convinced that there was a direct cause and effect. I does seem pretty likely though – and even if Sanchez wasn’t physically rattled, it might have affected him mentally. Can’t blame the offensive line for that, though – on the play, Sanchez rolled out and couldn’t find anyone open and Timmons came up from the secondary to hit him. That was a moment where the decisiveness he displayed in week one deserted him.

• a57se
I don’t think Greene is the right guy for that misdirection toss out of the wildcat, Mcknight would have had a chance to get past Clark on that play because of his speed but Greene is just too slow in that situation…….what do you think?

It’s pretty unlikely any back could have done anything with that, since the Steelers didn’t bite on the redirection and that left Konrad Reuland with two guys to block. Had Tebow kept the ball and ran to the left, the play might have had a chance to be successful. Having said that, on the previous play, the play didn’t look like it was going anywhere and Joe McKnight made a few guys miss and turned it into a nice gain, so maybe it does make sense for someone more elusive to be back there. At this stage of the season, they’re developing tendencies within that package.

• Brendan
When Cromartie did actually press at the line, did he do well? I’m to the point where Rex should sit him if he refuses to press WR’s. It’s so incredibly frustrating watching him play off the LOS when he’s so good playing on it.

Let’s flip your question around and look at the five completions he gave up. On four of them, including the touchdown, he was playing well off his man. On the other, the first completion he gave up, he was in press coverage, but didn’t even attempt to get a jam on Wallace at the line. Wallace came back for the ball to get an 18-yard catch.

I’ve heard it mentioned that Jets coaches have determined that Cromartie has NEVER given up a catch when he gets his hands on his man at the line – a stat which was obviously kept intact here. Clearly that’s something they need to get him to do and it’s not as simple as putting him in press coverage, because he still needs to get his hands up on his man when he is pressing.

• juunit
Can you do a play-by-play analysis for the beginning of the game, leading up to our TD? I know I’m not the only one who was switched onto the game right as we were kicking the extra point, with 4:19 seconds left in the quarter, meaning lots of us completely missed the only good part of the game.

No problem.

- After a touchback, Pittsburgh gained eight on a WR screen to Antonio Brown. Heath Miller made a good block on LaRon Landry to spring it.
- Bart Scott exploded into the backfield to blow up the next play – a run left by Isaac Redman – for a seven yard loss. David Harris finished him off.
- On third and nine, Brown picked up a first down on a Jet Sweep to the right side. Eric Smith and Josh Mauga got blocked out on the play and Miller drove Ellis Lankster back at the second level, although it looked like a favorable spot at the marker.
- On first and ten, a run up the middle was blown up by Sione Po’uha for a short gain.
- Wallace then gained 18 on the above mentioned play where Cromartie pressed but didn’t jam.
- On the next play, the ball was dumped to the fullback in the flat and he ran for a 26-yard gain as Garrett McIntyre passed him off to the man behind him, but the man behind him (Kyle Wilson) was occupied by the slot receiver.
- Wallace then gained six on a pass underneath with Cromartie playing off him.
- Kenrick Ellis blew up the next play for a loss in the backfield on a handoff to Redman.
- On third down, Demario Davis pressured Ben Roethlisberger off the edge and McIntyre sacked him when he stepped up, forcing the Steelers to settle for a field goal.
- The Jets next drive started on the 10 after a Bilal Powell hold and began with two Shonn Greene runs and an illegal substitution penalty on 3rd and 4. With confusion in the Steelers defensive backfield, Holmes ran to the sticks and broke off his route where the ball was perfectly timed for a first down to the 21.
- On first down, Sanchez made a playfake and rolled right, but his first option wasn’t there and he hesitated allowing a defensive back to come up and hit him. He span away from the sack and threw the ball away.
- On second down, Sanchez threw an out pattern to Holmes who drew a pass interference flag. It was illegal contact, but not pass interference.
- Sanchez then pump-faked right and threw deep down the seam to Kerley in the left slot. He hit him in stride but he was caught from behind inside the 20 for a 45-yard play.
- Greene was stuffed in the backfield by an unblocked Lawrence Timmons on first down. Matt Slauson blocked the other inside linebacker, which may have been a mistake on his part.
- On second down, they clawed most of the yards back on an out pattern to Clyde Gates despite Austin Howard getting beaten by Lamarr Woodley.
- On third down, a playfake and quick slant to Holmes went for an easy touchdown.

• damion
Can you give me a reason as to why Coples wasn’t out there more?

Maybe the coaches saw him on film last week and didn’t like what they saw, I felt he would have a monster game. The defense that seemed ready to dominate in the preseason, but has yet to find its way(in terms of being DOMINANT) but no Po’uha in week 1 and no Revis in week 2 doesn’t help.

Rex said it was mostly because the bigger linemen match up better with the Steelers, but on the five plays where they ran the ball with him in, he did fare well. Presumably McIntyre’s unexpected good play was a factor too. Hopefully this will only serve to keep Coples hungry.

You make a good point about the defense. People are bashing them, but they haven’t played a game with both of their best two players in at the same time yet. Let’s see if they give us a reason to bash them when they’re at full strength.

• npr jet fan
With Revis in there would have been no touchdown on the right side to Wallace, more man coverage and added more pressure on the qb, we could of rolled our coverage to help someone else, and put our offense on the field a few more times. Playing with a lead could of kept us two dimensional and in the endzone.

Another good point, building on my previous comments. Although, I will add that Cromartie usually played Wallace one-on-one in 2010, so I don’t know that Revis being there would have prevented that.

• ‘NYCPE’inGermany
It seemed to me that the Jets receivers couldn’t handle the Steelers DBs agressive press coverage. How have the Jets WRs who were here last year handled this? Have they always had so much trouble?

Several people asked a version of this too. They wanted to know why nobody other than Holmes (thrown to 16 times on 35 dropbacks) was targeted and wondered if there were open receivers that were not getting seen or receivers failing to get any separation.

My approach to this is to look at each of the 13 throws to Holmes that were NOT completed. Other than those throws, Sanchez was 7-for-16 for 110 yards (with one play negated by a penalty) – obviously not very good, but slightly better than his success rate throwing to Holmes (3-for-11, five plays negated by penalties).

1. This was an all-or-nothing misdirection play – a classic example of an attempted “chunk” play. Holmes ran a deep crossing route as the Jets faked a run to the right out of a three-TE set and Sanchez rolled left. Holmes was the only receiver on that side of the field, but the Steelers were playing zone so the safety remained deep and the corner on the weakside didn’t fall for the playfake and instead rushed Sanchez. Still, Holmes was one-on-one with the safety so could have been an option, but Sanchez had to avoid the rushing defensive back and couldn’t get a clean throw off. Jeff Cumberland leaked out as a secondary option on down the middle, but again Sanchez didn’t have time to hit this.

2. This was the play where Holmes drew the penalty on the quick out, as detailed in the play-by-play above. It was a one-on-one matchup, so Sanchez really didn’t (and probably shouldn’t need to) look anywhere else. Here, it’s worth noting that the Steelers blitzed a safety from Jeremy Kerley’s side and dropped Lawrence Timmons off the line, both clearly moves to discourage the Jets from looking for a quick slant or crossing route from the slot.

3. Again, Holmes was basically in one-on-one coverage, with a safety coming over late. The other three receiving options were on the opposite side. Sanchez threw a quick toss down the sideline and Holmes was held – although this time it was pass interference, not holding, because the ball was clearly in the air. Again, Sanchez didn’t really look to the right, although he did glance at Jeff Cumberland who ran a short route to the sticks (it was 2nd and six). Clyde Gates ran downfield and Konrad Reuland was pretty much open in the right flat, although Gates’ man would have likely prevented a big play.

4. This was the play where Sanchez rolled out and threw high with Holmes open in the end zone. Again, Sanchez made the right choice here. Reuland and Hill were both jammed at the line by a linebacker to slow them up and then picked up by a safety downfield. Holmes was single-covered again and did get open, but the throw sailed on Sanchez.

5. Holmes was a hot read on this play, as once again the Jets had isolated him on one side with three receiving options on the right side. A five man rush, including the safety on Holmes’ side, came and Sanchez got rid of the ball immediately. Holmes initially broke off his route then kept going and Sanchez threw it to the spot where he would have gone if he had not kept going. It was third and long though, so he’d have had to break Ike Taylor’s tackle to get a first down anyway.

6. This pass was ruled incomplete, but Holmes definitely caught it. However, it wouldn’t have counted anyway because of a holding call. Hill was in single coverage this time with the defender backing off him and came back to the ball where he was open downfield, similar to what happened on the flea-flicker against the Bills. You can’t really fault Sanchez though, as he connected with Holmes in a tight window. John Conner would have been a checkdown option underneath.

7. On third and 16, the Jets left two guys in to block and had three receivers bunched over on the left. Gates ran a post pattern, Kerley ran a quick out and Holmes ran to the sticks in between them. This was clearly designed to go to Holmes with the other receivers hopefully creating enough space to get the throw completed. Kerley was all alone in the flat, but had a guy sitting back at the marker and no potential blockers, so would have struggled to make the first down. Gates did draw some attention and Holmes was open, but Sanchez threw high again and Taylor broke it up. A lower throw could have resulted in a successful conversion.

8. The Jets were in a two-TE set with Smith and Reuland. Bilal Powell was in the backfield but motioned out wide left. Clyde Gates ran a go-route from the slot to clear out the outside for Sanchez to throw to Holmes, who again ended up single-covered by Taylor. Reuland was double covered underneath and Smith stayed in to block. Holmes dropped the pass on yet another play where it was clearly set up for him to be the main option.

9. This was the play where Taylor was seemingly called for a phantom pass interference penalty. Sanchez actually connected nicely with an open Holmes on the left side, but Clark’s hit jarred the ball loose. On the play, the Jets left Greene in to block but Reuland (from the fullback position) ran a route to the flat and Cumberland chipped a linebacker on the right side then ran an in-route. Stephen Hill was on the right side, but Sanchez didn’t look his way because his first option was Holmes, who had a step on his man.

10. A couple of plays later, Holmes was hit from behind before the ball arrived but didn’t get the call this time. The ball hit him in the chest. Hill was lined up wide left, but Holmes was obviously the primary option underneath and again was open. Both tight ends ran slower-developing routes and Powell leaked into the left flat, but this was a quick throw. Holmes was showing clear frustration after this play.

11. Here, they had four wideouts with Holmes isolated on the left and the other three on the right. Sanchez pump-faked to Holmes and then threw the ball away without having time to look right. He perhaps didn’t trust his protection on that play with a pass rusher coming off the edge, but Powell picked it up. I think they were looking for some kind of pump-and-go, but Taylor jammed him at the line which messed that up.

12. On this play, the Jets had three receivers on the right side and left two guys in to block. While this was called a target to Holmes – the ball skipped to him as he cut off his route just beyond the marker – it looked like Sanchez was actually looking for Kerley here. Kerley ran a whip route and Sanchez’s throw was just wide of him, maybe because of a bad route or maybe because of a bad throw. Hill ran a deep clear-out route.

13. Finally, Holmes drew another pass interference call downfield as his man was playing outside technique and he ran down the seam. Another well delivered pass by Sanchez, as Hill and Kerley were both jammed at the line. Sanchez could have opted to dump it to Jeff Cumberland, who initially stayed in to block, but then leaked out into the flat and had some room ahead of him.

There’s so many conclusions to draw about these plays, not all of them negative. Clearly the Jets designed a lot of plays where Holmes was the first option and although the Steelers anticipated a couple of these or got lucky with the defense they were playing, they mostly seemed to be well-designed plays that could have worked if the receiver or passer did a better job.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise – after all, the Dolphins targeted Brandon Marshall a ton over the last few years, so Tony Sparano’s philosophy is obviously to put his main guy in a position to make plays. He achieved that, although Holmes’ hands let him down on this occasion (as was often the case with Marshall too). The positive part of this is that it simplifies things for Sanchez. The obvious negative is that it becomes too predictable. The Jets need to have faith in some of their other receivers to be the guy they put in a position to make some of these plays. Of course, Dustin Keller would usually be one of the primary options on a lot of plays too.

While Holmes clearly started to get frustrated towards the end of the game, it’s difficult to fault his ability to get separation when single-covered and the Jets engineered those situations, while the Steelers seemed content to take their chances. It was a bit like a basketball game where you don’t bother to double-team the best scorer and instead focus your efforts on keeping everyone else quiet.

Due to the way these plays are designed, we can’t learn too much from them about how the likes of Hill and Kerley fared in terms of their efforts to get open. Hardly any of them were situations where Sanchez had to throw to Holmes because nobody else was open – it was more the case that they chose to make him the first option and threw it his way because he was open. However, in the few examples where they were potential options, Hill and Kerley did seem capable of getting open. I’d also add that the other receivers saw plenty of attention in terms of safety support and getting jammed at the line, so the Steelers perhaps smartly assumed the Jets would be focused on ball security and baited Sanchez into making the offense one-dimensional. In Sanchez’s defense, his decision making and accuracy on these 13 throws wasn’t that bad either.

I don’t think the Jets should go away from this philosophy, but they do need a better Plan B going forward. I’d start by designing some plays to get more different players involved.

• __fense
So what’s up with the tackling? Is this a league-wide thing, where no one can tackle? I heard someone on TV say it has to do with the limited number of contact practices. Do you think there’s any validity to that?

I’m sure there is. My previous research indicated that approximately 75% of the league usually averages between four and six missed tackles per game. The Jets have missed 19 in two games – which is challenging last year’s Bucs team (almost 11 per game) for futility. PFF pointed out during the week that the Jets missed only 14 in their first four games last year.

So, is it a league wide thing? Well, only one team has had more missed tackles than the Jets – Carolina has 29 in two games! – but so far 15 teams are averaging more than six missed tackles per game, which is more than usual. Clearly there are quite a few teams off to a bad start in this area. This is especially relevant, considering the fact that missed tackles usually increase once it starts to get cold. It doesn’t apply everywhere though. Houston has only missed four tackles so far in two games.

• JBK
How did Vlad look at LG? Do you think Slauson can play RG as Moore’s replacement or are we better bring Moore back for less money … What’s going on with Conner? If he can’t go, it will be time to cut or IR two players from the 53 man roster … Maybe 87 (Reuland) becomes an h-back

Reuland can line up in the backfield. He did in preseason with San Francisco and has done it six times with the Jets already.

I don’t know yet who the starters will be at guard yet – ask me again nearer the end of the season. I think there’s a good chance Vlad is one. The other might come down to money. Slauson will probably do well at RG because it’s typically easier to play there.

• patd
Missed tackles…uuugghh

I think this is my “comment that bears repeating but doesn’t need any further insight from me” of the week.

• JetsFaninNC
I’m wondering… you talked a little about the use of Tebow in Part 1. Do you think that this limited usage is all that they have in mind? I would have thought that he’d be more heavily used yesterday, in order to throw the defense off a bit. They seemed to know what was coming, and we didn’t throw in too many wrinkles. Maybe the personnel wouldn’t have changed with him in the game, but you’d think at least keeping him on the field (maybe for Connor as a FB after he went down) would give the Steelers some pause as to what’s coming.

I’ll boil it down – my question is, based on what you saw, do you think that just keeping Tebow on the field (with Sanchez) could have given our offense a little more breathing room?

PS – I do NOT want to see Sanchez benched in favor of Tebow. I just thought that he’d be used more as a swiss army knife, along WITH Sanchez.

I’ve yet to see any evidence that Tebow can be a capable blocker. I’m sure the coaches are evaluating and developing him in that area and might apply him there if he’s ready. I think the Tebow package is still being revealed. A lot of what they’re doing presumably sets up some big plays when they start adding some wrinkles later on. Any time the defense looks like it knows what’s coming, that is in play. Then once they have success with a more creative variation, it should make the base package more effective (in theory).

I know he was working with the scout team playing Roethlisberger’s role this week, so maybe that ate into his preparation time for working with the wildcat packages.

• justwinbaby
How do you like Mulligan catching touchdown passes in St Louis? I think Mulligan was one of the least liked jets last year, so I’m glad he found somewhere he could be happy.

Mulligan blocked a punt and caught the winning touchdown for the Rams on Sunday, but we’ll have to wait and see if mistakes creep back into his game and start limiting his effectiveness. Don’t look now, but the other contender for that least like Jet crown from last year – Wayne Hunter – gave up just one pressure in 54 snaps protecting the blind side, so it seems likely he is going to play better without as much expectation placed upon him. Obviously, you’ll get an update in Expendables at the bye week.

• jon in bk
Something I’d be interested to see in BGA Extra (if possible): The party line seems to be that it was just 3rd down performance that made the difference. Are numbers available on what the average 3rd down distance was, though?

They will probably be skewed by a couple of 3rd and-forevers for the Steelers, but it seemed like the Jets were behind the sticks a lot on offense, and not great on D either.

Steelers were 9-for-16 including conversions via penalty. The average distance required was 6.3 yards on the ones they made and just under ten yards on the ones they missed. This was skewed by a 3rd and 32 though. Remove that and the other ones they missed were just under six yards to go. The Jets were 5-for-13 after starting off 4-for-4. The average distance required was 3.4 yards on the ones they made and 9.5 yards on the ones they missed.

The dirty little secret of the Jets defense is that for all their talk about aggressiveness, their gameplan is usually to ensure they stop the run and put the other team into passing downs, then rely on their secondary to keep the quarterbacks to a low success rate in those situations. Phase one of that plan went pretty well on Sunday…

• reprocity
How many snaps did Coples and Maybin have? Did McIntyre really have the game of his career?

Coples had 16 and Maybin 14. As for McIntyre, it was obviously his most productive game but his first sack came because Roethlisberger had to step up due to pressure from Demario Davis and his big hit in the backfield came as he was completely unblocked. He also had two costly breakdowns in coverage, so it wasn’t a flawless performance by any means. I do like McIntyre though and he gives the Jets good depth at a position where their starters are aging.

• WW85
Do you have stats on end of half laydowns? I don’t agree. when I see top 10 offenses with about a minute to go with timeouts, I see them go for it. I don’t doubt weak offenses don’t go for it.

This is something that can’t really be accurately measured statistically. A lot of teams just ran out the clock, but they had either less time or worse field position than the Jets. Then again, most of the teams that tried to score got the ball with better field position and/or more time. The closest comparison was the Lions who got the ball with the same amount of time remaining but at their 9-yard line or Miami who got the ball (also down three) with slightly less time remaining and slightly worse field position (20-yard line, 46 seconds). They both chose to run the clock out. Then there’s the Giants, who got it with 53 seconds to go on their 25-yard line and ended up throwing a pick-six, so that’s hardly a good argument for going for it.

You make a good point about the top offenses going for it in those situations, but the Jets offense is not a top offense – and being more aggressive in those situations wouldn’t immediately turn them into one.

• Greg Drohan
Glad to see you mention McKnight. I thought he naturally showed more shiftiness than Greene or Powell possess, but also seemed he had nice patience on that run. I swear the Jets just hate small fast RBs and if a Ray Rice was on the team, he’d be lucky to get 5 touches a week. Do you think it’s mainly about the fear factor? His past with fumbles? If so, then Powell should be starting over Greene after last week.

The main reason he’s not seeing the field is that Powell is a better pass blocker than him. I think McKnight has the potential to be good in that role and figured that the weight he added would help him to improve, but right now Powell is doing a good job and McKnight is getting a lot of special teams work (where he is an asset). He made a nice run on Sunday for sure, so I hope they do give him some more chances to give them a spark.

• Greg Drohan
Wondering what you think about [Maybin's] weight? I thought he was probably playing unusually fast as he was 20 lbs (or more?) under weight last season. Now that he bulked up has he lost a step or three?

I commented in preseason that he seemed to have lost a step in terms of getting off the initial block and bursting back to the quarterback, which was how he picked up five of his six sacks last year. I wonder if they’re better off letting him shed the weight and just using him in a one-dimensional role, because their attempts to turn him into a three-down player have just made him worse in the role he used to have.

Having said that, after I made those comments in preseason, he had eight pressures in two games, so hopefully he is just trying to find his feet.

I’ll be back on Monday to break down the Miami game.