BGA Extra: Jets at Patriots

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), we also review the coaches film. 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 Bent’s Game Analysis during the week. After the jump, I respond to your questions about Thursday night’s game against the Patriots. 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.

Quick question – Kenrick Ellis looked absolutely huge, size wise, out there. Is he bigger this year or are my eyes deceiving me? And have you noticed any ill effects from his back injury (slower play, not staying low, etc.)?

He IS absolutely huge! However, he was absolutely huge last year too. I can’t really notice any difference if I look back to footage from last year. The only effect of his back injury has been his low reps (12 in week one and eight in week two). He’s looked good when he’s played – in fact, he’s grading out even better than Harrison on a per-play basis (and Harrison is currently PFF’s number one rated run stopping DT/NT in the league).

Is Cromartie’s hip contributing to his poor play? It’s weird for the drop off from last year to be so steep for a guy that trains as hard as Cro.

You know, that’s something I hadn’t considered and was perhaps should have done. It could well be part of the reason. As to whether that means he’ll return to how he played last year or is something that will plague him all year, I have no idea.

It looked as though the D was double-teaming Edelman after it was clear he was Brady’s most effective weapon, but it seemed that a LB or a safety was covering Edelman a good chunk of the time – what percentage of the time was Edelman being covered by a CB, and what percentage of the time was he being covered by a LB and/or safety? Also, when was Edelman most effective: when covered by a CB, or when covered by a LB or S?

According to PFF numbers, eight different players were targeted while covering him. He did not have 20 receiving yards against any of them and the only one with more than one incompletion was Antonio Allen (3-for-5 and 13 yards).

A look at the film shows that they covered him with a cornerback whenever he lined up on the outside which was on 29 of 64 snaps. When in the slot, they sometimes had a slot guy (usually Wilson or Allen, but also Landry a couple of times) playing off coverage. Wilson played press coverage on him a few times too. They also used linebackers such as Barnes and Pace to jam him at the line and they played plenty of zone, which meant that the outside corner would have to come up on an out pattern or Davis/Harris would have to pick him up when he ran a crossing route. It’s impossible to put numbers on this because he was often moving from one player’s coverage into that of another, but as a general rule the Jets planned to keep him in front of them and were mostly successful in doing so.

Disgruntled Jets Fan
GIF pretty please!

Since you asked so nicely…

Not sure if this has been mentioned but PFF did a detailed breakdown of the TD. They also concluded that Millner was in the wrong spot, though they said it was because he didn’t realize how many receivers were on the field. From what you wrote, Cro may have been fooled too. Speaking of Cro, why do you think he has struggled so much this year? He was great without Revis in past. Do you think Thurman’s promotion to DC has hurt the overall secondary?

I think Rex and DT are absolutely 100% on the same page and the players love playing for them. However, it’s never easy to transition into a bigger role and then delegate to your subordinates, as Rex himself found when making the jump to head coach. From what I hear, that’s still an adjustment that’s something of a work in progress and maybe that’s a factor…but maybe not.

As for Cromartie, it was neglectful of me not to consider that his hip is bothering him, as flagged up by Led above. Maybe that’s not the reason though. Maybe teams have found some weaknesses in his game, maybe his technique has regressed in terms of jamming at the line (which could be associated with DT taking less of a hands-on approach) or maybe he’s just rested on his laurels and hasn’t worked hard enough this offseason. I don’t know the answer here, but I hope it’s a temporary problem.

I’m sure his agents hope so too, which is the other elephant in the room…

Who is coaching our secondary now that DT is our D-Coordinator? I know his name is Tim McDonald but judging by the CB play so far, he is not doing a very good job! Do you think Pace is getting too many snaps? Hopefully that changes when Coples comes back. Could you tell us how many passes the Pats WR’s dropped last night?

Yes, it’s Tim McDonald, and – as noted above – he may still be finding his feet in that role. Pace is getting too many snaps to be effective for 16 games, but if his snap count drops once Coples returns then that might make perfect sense as they may be overusing him through necessity right now. According to the strict PFF criteria, you may be surprised to know that both teams dropped just four passes. This is because passes out of the player’s immediate reach that go off their fingertips (Hill, Powell, Edelman) or passes where the ball was knocked away from the receiver (Spadola, Edelman) are not treated as drops. Gates and Dobson had three drops each.

Disgruntled Jets Fan
How far off was that game from the record for most punts in a game? I can’t recall a game where I’ve seen more punts. Both punters must have pretty sore feet today.

The teams combined to punt 20 times. The all-time record is 31, which happened twice on the same date in 1933. The Jets’ record was 14 in the overtime playoff loss to the Browns in 1986.

Dean Barbella
With such a sloppy performance from Robert Malone, can you compare his stats to Zoltan Mesko, the punter that recently lost his job in New England?

I don’t think there’s much point now, but the timing of this comment amused me in light of him losing his job after the game.

Are the NTs commanding double teams or do you think they look so good because Mo is being doubled and they have 1 on 1s?

It’s the latter, no doubt about it. Here are the three plays on which Damon Harrison recorded a tackle and you can clearly see that he was single blocked (red arrow) and Wilkerson was doubled (yellow arrow) on all three.

Eventually, they’re going to need to double Harrison…then what?

Chris R
How is it that Milliner has issues covering? Isn’t an out the same in college as it is in pros? Especially vs young receivers. Is he a bust or just the next Kyle Wilson an average at best cornerback?

Aside from the fact that he’s missed time and is still learning the playbook, getting used to the pace of the NFL game and getting over an injury, Dee went to Alabama. Historically, rookie corners that have played for Nick Saban have struggled to adjust to the NFL because he teaches slightly different techniques. However, they tend to come round eventually, so hopefully that will happen to him too. It’s not just Saban though, corners in general tend to take their time. People may not be aware that even Revis was getting targeted more than any cornerback in the NFL in the first half of his rookie season and was giving up a ton of yardage and catches. It’s too early to call him another Wilson…but I don’t think he should be starting right now.

Some plays I felt like Landry was out of position. Is there an evidence to support that? I initially thought the Dobson touchdown was his fault, but now it’s clear that Milliner botched that one.

One play in particular – this one – caught my eye. What you can see from the TV footage is that Cromartie and Davis both went with Edelman on an out pattern. That left Landry to pick Thompkins up downfield and he obviously didn’t get over in time. (This play actually went for 38 yards which was almost exactly half of what Edelman racked up on 14 catches, so the threat he provided enabling him to be a decoy here was arguably his biggest contribution).

Anyway, what the coaches film shows that the TV footage doesn’t is that Landry isn’t even aware that Thompkins is running down the sideline uncovered until the ball is well on its way. He’s looking into the backfield the whole time and when the throw is made he turns at about the 30 and it’s only at that moment that he realizes he has to chase the receiver down. My take at the time was that this was probably Cromartie’s fault and seeing the coaches film strengthened that opinion. Landry certainly seemed to react like he was expecting the deep sideline route to be covered. However, as the quarterback of the secondary, he presumably must take partial responsibility for letting that happen and failing to diagnose it sooner.

Big Chris
Noticed it again this week. I’m not sure what quarter it was in but we were in the red zone I believe it was a third down. Geno dropped back looked right and stared down a receiver. Stephen Hill had come in motion towards the line on the play and released over the middle for what would have been an easy 6 points. I believe we ended up with a FG. Did you notice this on other plays as well?

It was actually second down – the play immediately before the “touchdown” to Gates.

That particular play was hard to miss because the announcers highlighted it. It was definitely the worst example of the Patriots leaving someone completely uncovered. As a general rule, they kept at least one safety pretty deep, so most of the downfield throws would have had to be completed in a tight window, almost daring Smith to make a mistake. The play was very similar to the play where Sanchez threw an interception to Richard Sherman last year. Just like Sanchez, Smith failed to spot a wide open Hill over the middle, and instead threw a risky pass to the sideline. At least Smith got enough on it that it wasn’t jumped by the defender this time, but that should have been six points and was probably a bigger missed opportunity than the Gates play just afterwards.

Even before this game, Mike Mayock had been saying that Geno had problems throwing vertical passes. During this game he said the same thing. Presumably, he is not talking about arm strength because Geno seems to have that. Question is do you see any accuracy issues with Geno when throwing down field?

The problem isn’t his arm, because we’ve all seen him throw bullets, it’s his footwork. His interception to Holmes as he threw on the move was an off-balance throw and placed just behind him as a result. When Gates dropped the deep ball off his shoulder, he didn’t step into the throw – perhaps because he saw it late and then rushed it – and it fluttered and gave Arrington a chance to recover as Gates had to slow down under the ball.

A lot of his downfield accuracy issues are underthrows, which again might have been right on the money with better footwork. This is supposed to be David Lee’s specialist area, so hopefully he can fix Smith.

This is less of question and more of an observation and I’m curious if you noticed this too. It seemed to me that Geno Smith stopped trusting his receiver after Gates dropped the long throw to him on 3rd down that would have put the Jets inside the 15. It wasn’t a great throw, but there was no excuse to drop it. He was more tentative and was seemingly waiting for receivers to get open more (though I wonder if he was hoping Winslow was going to get open because he trusts him to make the play).

I did wonder the same thing, but unfortunately it’s impossible to tell whether he threw late because he made the read late. It’s a definite possibility though and we’ve seen it happen before.

I noticed Geno throwing off his back foot on a lot of his throws and not stepping into them. Is his ankle still causing any problems?

Again, that’s something I’ve neglected to consider. The Jets and Smith himself have both said his ankle is fine, but how many times in the past does it seem like injured quarterbacks been sold to the fanbase as completely fine? As with Cromartie, if this is an issue, then the question becomes whether this will plague him all year or is it a positive sign because he’ll improve when his injury does?

I think Geno played pretty well during the first three quarters, but he seemed to try and do too much in the 4th. At least he takes the blame, which counts for something. I’m a little troubled by his accuracy. Do you attribute this to a lack of chemistry with receivers or do you think it’s something to worry about in the future?

As noted, I put most of the blame on his technique and footwork. However, as his chemistry with the receivers improves, along with his understanding of the playbook, then these factors will have a positive effect on his accuracy too.

I would like you to see how many plays Geno left out there. You didn’t mention the play Mayock highlighted where Hill was wide open in the end zone but Geno vacated the pocket too early on and the Jets ended up with a FG. The NFL Network crew showed 3 or 4 plays early on where Geno DIDN’T throw to an open man, then stopped doing that the rest of the game … I would also like you to see if there was anything special the Pats were doing to take away the Jets TE’s as targets for Geno. He didn’t attempt many throws to them which I thought was odd.

Honestly, I didn’t find too many missed opportunities for big plays other than the ones they highlighted (Powell beating Hightower down the sideline, the throw off Gates’ shoulder and Hill open in the end zone). Both his first two interceptions were opportunities for big plays too. As noted above, by having one safety deep, the Patriots ensured that if someone did get beaten deep, the throw would have to be on time and accurate otherwise the safety would be able to get over. As for taking out the tight ends, the Patriots didn’t allow the Jets to run clear-out routes and create space over the middle like the Bucs did. They flooded the shallow intermediates and blitzed just 11 times on 41 dropbacks.

Considering Ivory’s history, think it’s possible he’s on a snap count every game?

I don’t think so. It seems like he was benched for the remainder of the first half after his fumble with nine minutes to go. He carried on the second play of the fourth quarter, but then the Jets went with Powell the rest of the way. I would imagine that they wanted Powell in there for his pass blocking and pass catching while trailing, but I would rather have seen them running Ivory in the fourth quarter, having ground the Patriots down pretty well in the first three quarters. It was only 13-10 after all, but the Jets seem to have a habit of going pass happy late in games when trailing (and that’s Marty Mornhinweg’s reputation too).

Does this game count as the type you enjoy most? I felt like it was more offensive incompetence than it was a well played defensive game. But, the score was low in the end.

I did enjoy some of the defensive play, but there were a lot of missed opportunities for both teams. Moreover, I generally hate it when the Jets play the Patriots because they always seem to make individual mistakes in execution and it’s always frustrating. Also, their offense bores me. So, while elements of it were enjoyable for me, it didn’t tick all the boxes.

About Geno: A lot of scout reports talked about him having a strong arm but do you see that evident from the previous 2 games? From the the 2 interceptions last Thursday it seemed he under threw them, was it because of an inaccurate throw or lack of arm? Even the 37 odd yards completion to Hill felt like the ball looped a little. But I could be wrong, what is your opinion?

I think I’ve covered this above. I think it’s his footwork that tends to cause the underthrows. I thought he put the Hill throw where he meant to and it was more of a touch pass. Had he led Hill with the pass, McCourty probably would have gotten over.

Could you further breakdown the running game? I was telling anyone who would listen that the Jets needed to go to a power run game. It seemed that they were happy to run out of the shotgun but the power runs from under center were much more effective. Do you have the stats on how many runs came from under center vs from shotgun and the ypc of them? I would like to see the Jets run more pistol. It seems to me it would be a good compromise of shotgun while still allowing your RB to get the ball coming down hill.

On shotgun runs, they went 13-52, but this included a 16-yard scramble by Smith. Therefore, they averaged 4.0 yards on conventional runs from under center and 3.0 yards on conventional runs from out of the shotgun.

Phil T.
How much of the improved running game was a result of the Jets throwing more and aligning in passing formations?

They did run a lot of draw plays. I’ve observed in the past that the Jets have seemed to have more success running out of three-wide sets against teams like New England (and certainly the Patriots themselves), so I thought this might be part of the plan. As noted above, they had less success when running out of the shotgun, though.

Were the Pats doing anything to take away the short passing game?

Yes, as noted, they dropped plenty of guys into coverage, flooded the middle of the field and left a safety deep over the middle to try and force Smith to beat them in tight windows.

Lam Jones
How can we possibly evaluate the Malone move without knowing what his ANPP was?

Question of the week, right here. ANPP is the system I developed for evaluating punter performance, which produces results on a sliding scale from 60 (in jeopardy of losing your job) to 70 (elite) by expressing the average net punt as a percentage of an expected maximum.

Sure enough, Malone’s ANPP was 61% on Thursday night, right in that “job in jeopardy” zone. However, over the first two games, he was at 64% which is only slightly below average. If you remove his best and worst punt as if they were outliers, this drops below 62% though.

I heard Westhoff on the radio say that on one of the times the Jets went for the blocked punt that a Jet broke free for a block and was tackled and nothing was called when you do your BGA Extra can you tell me if you see anything.

He’s probably referring to the first time. Dane Fletcher grabbed Darrin Walls by the neck and hauled him to the ground. Walls had half a step and was clearly appealing to the officials after the kick. They collapsed the pile on the other two as well, but there was nothing as clear-cut as the transgression on Walls.

Joe in Orlando
Suggestion for BGA Extra: Compare Kyle Wilson’s return average to the “return average” of having no one back there. You could calculate the net yardage of good/bad bounces when we had no returner. Maybe call it “Wilson the return man versus Wilson the Football”.

One of them bounced on the 22 and went straight up so it was downed there. Another bounced and rolled 14 yards. The last one bounced on the 20 and then rolled backwards to the 29. So, in terms of not having a return man there, they lost a net five yards on three plays (-1.7 average). Wilson fielded four punts and gained seven yards (+1.8 average). So, he was 3.5 yards better than air (although who knows how the four punts he fielded might have bounced). He also left yards on the field by fair catching a ball when he had about 10 yards to run and by not fair catching a punt at the 11 which rolled down to the six.

Hurry back, Jeremy…not that his decision making is much better.


Thanks for your questions! I’ll be back with the BGA Preview for the Bills game on Sunday and to BGA the game itself on Monday.