BGA Extra: Jets at Titans

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

Welcome to BGA Extra, where I draw a line under the previous weekend’s game by responding to your questions from Bent’s Game Analysis during the week. After the jump, I respond to your questions about the loss to the Titans. 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.

JetFanOverseas
You listed eight plays in which either the Jets were unjustly charged with a phantom penalty, or the Titans got away with one. Since you have never been a homer, I take it that your assessments are accurate. I honestly don’t recall anything going unfairly the other way, except perhaps the non-safety call on Geno. While the Jets have seemingly gotten the short end of the stick by the refs in several games this year, this one seemed particularly egregious. How do you explain it? Were they tougher on the Jets this week because of the rep they got last week? If that is the case, it is blatantly unfair.

Yes, I thought that should be a safety and I’ll also add that the Wilkerson hit definitely should have been roughing the passer, although fining him is taking things a bit far and considering fining Coples is utterly ridiculous. Hopefully cooler heads prevail now that it’s apparent Locker wasn’t seriously hurt.

Anyway, I digress. While the Jets got hosed on several calls, they weren’t the reason the Jets played so poorly. The flags prevented them from building any kind of momentum and getting themselves back into the game, but you can’t make fire without a spark. Although I happened to mention several such plays from this game, I was much more annoyed with the officiating in week two, because that was a close game and it could conceivably have been the difference between the teams. Muhammad Wilkerson getting bearhugged on every other play is one thing, but when the replay booth is overturning calls with no evidence, let alone indisputable video evidence you’re up against it.

I’d like to say things will even out over time, but that’s probably not even true. The Jets will just have to deal with it. It’s the same every season.

JetFanOverseas
Regarding the battles in the trenches, do you have any general explanation as to why the Titans had such success pressuring Geno, while the Bills, who are a good pass-rushing team this year, had very little success? Was it due to a greater % of blitzes, or was it more in the design, with the Jets OL being fooled by stunts and tricky alignments? The Jets seemed to have a lot of trouble with stunts last year against Philly as well, when there were DL busting into the backfield untouched all afternoon. Similarly, on defense, why did the Jets have so much trouble applying pressure against the Titans, while having a field day against Buffalo? Is it simply that the Titans have a much better OL?

I’d actually attribute the additional pressure to something else. Here’s the way I started the offensive line review in last week’s BGA: “Maybe the biggest plus of all from Smith was the fact that he got rid of the ball, throwing it away several times to avoid any mistakes.” The fact that he didn’t do that this week was the main factor in the total amount of pressure. The Jets gave up five sacks, 11 hits and 14 hurries per PFF this week … but how much of that was attributable to the offensive line? NO sacks, six hits and 11 hurries. The Titans – who also had 30 total pressures against the Texans two weeks ago – didn’t blitz that much more than the Bills and weren’t really any more complicated in terms of their pass rush schemes. The Jets didn’t play Philly last year (apart from in preseason). Did you mean San Diego, perhaps?

As for the pass rush, yes, it definitely had a lot to do with the respective strengths of the two teams’ offensive lines and I would say that Locker got rid of the ball more efficiently than Manuel did last week. That’s always the part of offensive line evaluation that is overlooked. Again per PFF, Locker took 2.80 seconds in the pocket per throw, whereas Manuel took 3.16 seconds last week. Going back to Smith, he took 3.11 seconds this week, but 2.95 seconds last week. The lower that number, the more often you’re getting rid of the ball quickly before pressure can arrive.

Jon Presser
Something I could’ve sworn I saw with the naked eye on that long TD pass Cromartie gave up to Nate Washington was what looked like an obvious hold on I think Douzable that enabled Fitzpatrick to get that pass off. I never saw a replay, but it looked in real time like Douzable had beaten I think the right guard and the guard grabbed him with both hands and dragged him down on top of him as the O-lineman was falling down onto his back. Looked like an egregious holding call to me, and just another example sadly of a huge call/non-call going against the Jets. Did my eyes play tricks on me? Did he just trip on his own?

No, it was a hold. The game was over by then, anyway, but I did notice it and elected not to mention it because I didn’t want to sound like I was using the bad calls as an excuse for the poor performance.

JoeMustGo
Where does this team get the stones to underestimate anyone?

From its fanbase. Seriously, guys, there will be ups and downs all year. One loss doesn’t signify the end of the world, just like every win doesn’t automatically make the Jets a Super Bowl contender.

Muheldon Harroples
How badly do we miss Westy? It feels like our one advantage game in and game out has always been specials. Are we the worst in the league right now? It seems like our returners never have a lane. Are the blocking schemes different since Kotwica took over?

Special teams have been somewhat disappointing so far, but to put it into perspective, they rank 16th according to PFF and 6th according to Football Outsiders. The Giants, Texans and Jags have all given up more punt return yardage than the Jets. They’ve also had just four special teams penalties (the league average is five) and Nick Folk has been flawless on field goals so far, with 12 touchbacks on 17 kickoffs. In addition, they’ve avoided any turnovers so far.

So it’s not all bad. Last year’s special teams unit had several major breakdowns – kickoff return touchdowns, punts blocked, muffed punts, fumbled kickoff returns and so on – so although the Jets’ special teams unit hasn’t shone that much so far, they’ve been a lot more consistent than last year.

As to Kotwica’s role, that’s something that’s hard to evaluate and probably something that will become more apparent over time. I don’t see any differences in the blocking schemes.

a57se
It seemed to me that Davis ignored the possibility of a pass on the Walker touchdown and was way too far upfield by the time the pass was thrown…I thought he should have been on Walker if Jarrett was covering Mooney like he did right from the start. Are you sure Demario didn’t just misread the play?

I never know for sure what each player’s assignment was on a given play (which is why I said “I believe it was probably Davis’ assignment to meet Mooney in the hole.” However, that belief comes from having seen how the Jets handled the run over the course of the day – and on short yardage situations in general. Although that was his assignment, as I alluded to in the article, that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t responsible for following Mooney if he leaked out into the flat. Davis perhaps tried to get a head-start into that gap and that’s likely what caused him to be caught inside.

So, no, I don’t think Davis would be required to read that it isn’t a run and then drop off to cover the tight end. I think it’s more likely that Jarrett saw Davis caught on the inside and had to switch off into the flat, but Harris failed to read that and cover for Jarrett. You’ll note that Harris – spying the tail back – pretty much ends up in no-man’s-land. If Davis was required to wait to make sure that Walker wasn’t going to leak into the back of the end zone, then that would reduce how explosively he’d be able to attack the lead blocker.

I don’t know that for sure, but that’s what I’d expect based on how they’d normally approach that situation.

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Why do you think we are having such a difficult time generating turnovers? Bad enough the offense is giving it up, but the defense can’t seem to contribute to the TO battle either.

To some extent, whether or not you fumble the ball (and furthermore the extent to which you recover any fumbles) is based on luck. That’s something that could regress to the mean, especially with the pressure that the Jets’ front is capable of generating. If not for the replay booth and misguided challenges, the Jets’ plight might not be as bad as it’s been so far.

In terms of interceptions, I’d suggest that opposing quarterbacks just aren’t taking any chances. Like I said in BGA, teams can afford to play conservatively and wait on the Jets to hand them the advantage via penalties and turnovers of their own. In fact, that approach might reduce the number of fumbles too, if quarterbacks have been told that it’s better to eat the ball or throw it away, even if it leads to a punt, than to try to make a play and risk a turnover.

Formerly Madbacker #57
In your opinion, how well is Davis filling Scott’s shoes? Also does Richardson have a nickname yet?

Richardson = Boss Hogg. That’s been his nickname since high school.

I like Davis so far and his speed definitely adds an element that the front seven was lacking. He’s holding his own so far, but has plenty of room to grow if he wants to have an impact equivalent to that of Scott at his best. Every now and again, there’s a reminder that he’s an inexperienced player, but he’s removed that hesitation from his game that was holding him back last year, so it’s obvious he’s already feeling more comfortable. Hopefully he is going to continue to get better.

For the record, Harris is currently #1 in PFF’s ILB rankings having been 6th-worst last season. Davis deserves some of the credit for that.

Jeff
These penalties are maddening, but seriously is it lack of awareness from the refs that they are just missing blatant calls against our team? I know the coaches and players can’t say anything for they will be fined. Though seriously as a fan, this is absurd! You know its bad when even the commentators cant tell where the missed calls were.

Italian soccer manager Gianluca Vialli was once asked how he felt about a couple of refereeing decisions that had cost his team a crucial win and he simply sighed and said something like, “Listen…football (Note: in that case, he meant soccer) is a beautiful game and if we spend all our time worrying about the decisions of the referees, we risk losing what makes the game so special in the first place.”

I’ve been trying to find the exact quote, but sadly have been unable to do so. That applies here, anyway.

dmike
Obomanu should be released – drops and flags do not warrent a roster spot. How does Obomanu compate with Braylon as a blocker in BGA analysis?

Well, he’s gone. Obviously Rex Ryan reads BGA. Let’s see if he listens to my suggestion of reactivating Ricky Sapp too.

The question is probably moot now, but here’s what I said about Obo’s blocking in my BGA on him “As shown by a couple of the plays from 2012 linked to above, Obomanu has the ability to make some good blocks. It doesn’t always hold true but often when a receiver plays a lot of special teams, they also fare well as a blocker because they’re more used to physical play and hard work. He isn’t perfect as a blocker, but is certainly willing and seems to do a good job of finding a man in space and sustaining his block by typical wide receiver standards.” As for Braylon, I did a BGA on his blocking that tried to resolve the apparent contradiction between Rex Ryan saying what a good blocker he is and PFF grading him as one of the worst in the league. That’s well worth a read if you missed it (or just go to my conclusion if it’s too long).

Phil T.
Was it pass interference on Holmes during the second INT?

What do you think?

It actually could have been illegal contact, holding or pass interference. Take your pick.

1/12/69-OrangeBowl
What can we ascertain about Hill’s route running? He seems to “round things off” on all the TV replays. He is not sharp in cutting and seems to fool nobody. What do you think?

Hill does a good job of getting separation. If there’s anything he needs to improve, it’s maybe being more physical in and out of his breaks rather than taking short cuts. While he doesn’t have the sharp cuts of a Chad Johnson or Reggie Wayne, that’s true of most receivers of Hill’s type – tall, speedy guys. You tend to see those guys so used to being able to just run away from the player covering them that they don’t maximize their separation, which can allow their man to recover on a slightly underthrown ball.

Considering how we were told over and over again that he’d be raw as a receiver and wouldn’t be able to get open, I don’t think that’s ever really been an issue for him.

Phil T.
No BGA on Mangold’s performance? Tired of repeating the same thing over and over?

That was my error. I think I threw myself off by starting with the guards. Anyway, I felt Mangold looked a lot better this week. He won more individual battles than he lost, driving or turning his man out of the play effectively on several runs. There was only one occasion where he gave up penetration that led to a run being stuffed, but otherwise none of the failures were down to him. He did give up a couple of pressures late – one as he failed to pick up a stunt and another one that was avoidable, but Smith took too long to make the throw.

A typical example of Mangold getting an assignment which another center wouldn’t even be given because they wouldn’t be able to do it came on the 4th down run where Mangold moved laterally to get to the right defensive tackle’s outside shoulder and then turned him back to the inside. Had Michael Griffin not read the play so well or Derrick Morgan pinched in a bit more for the potential fullback run, this would have created plenty of room for Green to pick up the first down, but unfortunately the play was doomed to fail once Green cut back inside so Mangold gets no props for carrying out this difficult assignment.

kgbspy
Could you screenshot the 2nd interception? It looked from my perspective that Holmes was tangled with the DB the entire time and that it should have at least been a defensive holding call (or that could just be homerism). It’s not that it matters much, but it’ll at least make the 2nd interception easier to swallow if it indeed looks like something that should have been called.

Look up!

Muheldon Harroples
On Alex Green’s first outside run, it looked like he was running through quicksand with ankle weights. How is it possible to have a running back this slow?

He actually ran a 4.45 at the combine and if you’ve ever seen his college highlights, he has some good open field speed once he gets going. Maybe that’s the problem, his initial burst and acceleration is lacking. For example, Bilal Powell ran just a 4.51 at his pro day, but his 10-yard split was 0.03 faster.

a57se
Who has performed worse in your opinion…Ducasse or Geno?

I don’t think it’s possible to compare two players from different positions and I don’t really like to focus on the negative slant of how badly someone is playing, preferring to look at ways they can improve or reasons why they might be struggling.

In Vlad’s defense, his pass protection numbers would look better if Smith would get rid of the ball on a more consistent basis. Also, he’s faced an elite tackle every single week and three of his six penalties were dubious calls. On the other hand, although they’re both first-year starters, Ducasse earned the job by outperforming all the other potential starters, whereas Smith won his job almost by default due to the Sanchez and Garrard injuries and is arguably playing before he’s ready. They’ve both had their ups and downs, but these were more expected for Smith whereas Ducasse was obviously being relied upon to be more consistent off the bat – which has not happened over the last two games.

__fense
Do you know what the rules say about forward progress stopping for QBs dropping back? I’ve seen it called a few times (notably on a Sanchez play that became a safety when he was able to get the throw off before being sacked), but don’t you need to start making forward progress before anyone can stop it? I got the impression that they use it to say that defenders can’t push the QB into the end zone for a safety, but I don’t know if that’s true, and the Sanchez Safety (it was in the Giants game on Christmas two years ago) would go against that.

I guess it’s a combination of these two rules:

“Officials are to blow the play dead as soon as the quarterback is clearly in the grasp and control of any tackler…” and “An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended … when a runner is held or otherwise restrained so that his forward progress ends”. I’d say that the forward progress – even though he wasn’t moving forwards at the time – is measured by the point at which the play was blown dead.

Another key rule is that for there to be a safety, the player with the ball has to provide impetus. If the defensive player pushes the player with the ball into the end zone, then the defensive player has provided the impetus, not the ball carrier.

JetFanOverseas
Why in the world has MM not called a single 3-step drop and quick 7-yd. slant pass to Tone or Kerley, like the Montana/Young-to-Rice slants that seemed to be almost every other play in Bill Walsh’s WCO? Doing so would have several big benefits: a) Getting Geno used to releasing the ball quickly and avoiding sacks; b) Eliminating his locking eyes on the WR and causing the DB to jump the route; and c) Greatly decreasing the number of TO’s. I am all for a number of long passes a game, to stretch the field and get some quick scores, but having Geno look at least 15-20 yds. Downfield on every single pass is just way too risky and begging for TO’s. It seems like MM still thinks his WR’s are Desean Jackson, Maclin, Avant and Celek.

That’s certainly a play that the Jets used to lean on when Sanchez was struggling. To some extent, while you’d think it was a low risk route, if defenders are dropping off into the passing lane and Smith isn’t seeing them, then maybe they don’t trust him to do it too often. Although neither of them were on quick slants (one was a square in and one was a quick out), the Kiko Alonso interception last week and the Justin Tuck interception in preseason were examples of this. Still, this is a play that should be a west coast offense’s staple and perhaps will open up as Smith establishes his downfield game.

At least not many of Smith’s interceptions so far have led to long returns, so there’s one advantage to throwing downfield.

BrooklynDude99
Geno is still throwing the ball too high to his receivers over the middle of the field and exposing them to big hits. The one to Hill was underthrown and just a cheap shot by the safety to the head with his helmet. Will MM scale back the number of times the Jets throw the ball until Geno is ready for prime time, or will he keep slinging it no matter what?

I think scaling it back is something they should consider, but they haven’t even discussed it (openly) yet. How often did we have to hear about things like color code systems and special wristbands during the Schottenheimer era? It doesn’t seem like shackling the quarterback is a consideration. (Yet?) (EDIT: Just before I posted this, I see that Rex referenced the color code system just today, so maybe it’s coming after all).

R ic CT (via e-mail)
I was wondering about Clyde Gates — has he shown anything that makes you think he’s part of the solution for this team’s wide receivers? Like, is he constantly getting open and not being seen, or is he a terrific blocker?

I’ve seen flashes of good blocking from Gates in the past, but not much since he joined the Jets. One thing worth pointing out is that if a guy drops a lot of passes, that means he’s getting open which was the case in the Patriots game where his hands let him down. Also, there were two plays I had highlighted in the Bucs game where he was wide open. Gates had kind of a breakout game against Miami last year with seven catches for 82 yards, but then kept getting hurt and fell back down the depth chart. He has terrific speed, but is a raw route runner, doesn’t contest bad throws well and hasn’t displayed good hands or vision on kick returns so far this year. I think most Jets fans have seen enough – I wonder how much rope he has left with the coaches. With three receivers hurt, he might get one last chance to prove he belongs.

Stanleybostitch
What can be done about our secondary? It seems we cannot defend against the short pass, and they frequently break out for big plays. Is this the fault of the LB’s, the safeties, the CB’s or someone else? And what can we do about it? I should add, this has seemed to always be a problem for us. Is it scheme, players, coaching, or all of it?

The secondary has been victim to some individual struggles for Kyle Wilson (second half of last week) and Darrin Walls (first half of this week). Even Cromartie struggled in week two and Dee Milliner obviously struggled in the first couple of games. However, all of them have played well at times too, so maybe it’s just a matter of going with the hot hand until the pecking order establishes itself.

There have been some breakdowns, but I think that’s a by-product of the way the Jets mix and disguise their coverages, which I would suggest provides enough positives to outweigh the occasional error. Their linebackers and safeties have more range this year, so I’d expect them to be less susceptible to yardage after the catch in the long run.

Personnel-wise I still think Lankster should have a bigger role.

iJets
Can you provide what the distribution of penalties are by individuals on offensive unit? At what point do you think the Jets defense will start to get exposed, if not already, by the increased amount of time on the field?

As noted in BGA, time of possession isn’t an issue (they’re actually 7th in the NFL). It’s turnovers and field position that are killing them.

Offensive penalties: Ducasse (6), Colon (5), Ferguson (4), Smith, Winslow (3), Holmes (2). Five others have one each and Kerley and Powell are the only starters without one. Approximately four of them were good calls (just kidding).

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Thanks for all the great questions this week, everyone. I’ll be back on Monday to preview the Falcons game.