BGA Extra: Steelers at Jets

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 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.

Bdarc23
Are the Jets horrible at covering the TE position? It seems like we get killed by every TE the Jets face. Gronk will get healthy for next week after looking at the tape.

They currrently rank 25th in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders. That’s significantly down from last year, when they were 14th. I wouldn’t say every tight end has been killing them, though. In the Bucs, Pats and Titans games, they gave up just four catches for 15 yards. Obviously Chandler, Gonzalez and Miller have produced well, though (21 catches between them).

Muheldon Harroples
On that sideline pass to Hill before the half, if he did get his forearm down to make it a catch, shouldn’t he be down the split second he hits the ground since polamalu hit him? If that’s the case, the clock should have kept running because he was down “in bounds” and we should have run out of time before the half.

The key is that (despite what the announcers said) he didn’t need to get his forearm down for it to be a catch since he had already touched one foot down inbounds. Therefore, a hand or another foot would suffice, neither of which would constitute him being down until a knee, forearm, shoulder, butt or whatever touched the ground. His hand came down inbounds, establishing the catch and his forearm came down out of bounds, establishing that he wasn’t down until he landed out of bounds. For once, the officials got it right.

‘NYCPE’inGermany
Our D played well but everyone will continue to try to throw on us because teams have been having so much success at it. With Brady and Brees on the horizon, any adjustments we can make? More physical play from our DBs at the LOS? More LB chipping?

They have plenty of options open to them (Note: “They” = The Jets, not opposing quarterbacks), but I’d expect them to continue to mix up coverages the way they usually do. The one advantage this team has over those previous teams from the Rex Ryan era is that they can generate pressure without necessarily having to blitz. Physical play at the line is always desired, but unfortunately the one guy they have who is probably better at that than everybody else (Ellis Lankster) isn’t getting playing time for whatever reason.

One nice adjustment they could make which would make a big difference would be to stop screwing up coverages and leaving people wide open. That’s an individual adjustment everyone needs to make though.

Flood868
Why are the corners leaving so much space for shifty receivers like Brown? What happened to being physical and jamming guys at the line are the corners we have not good enough to do that?

I touched on this above, but that is certainly an area where the Jets can improve. Cromartie had improved in leaps and bounds over previous seasons, but I wonder if he’s playing off his man because his recent injuries have caused him to lose confidence in his ability to recover.

They do run certain coverages where the cornerback has no safety coverage over the top (and again, this is something Lankster was able to handle last year and in preseason). This allows them to run certain blitz packages which perhaps they don’t actually need to use. Often that will require the cornerback to play off their man because they can’t afford to get beaten over the top. However, sometimes it’s just been an error by the cornerback involved, as they’ve all been guilty of leaving too much of a cushion at times.

levi
This D seems to do great at first then teams get rolling on them. Does it seem to be fatigue or are the other teams making adjustments? Even the Buffalo game we let them right back in it. I haven’t checked the stats but the opponents seem to be completing passes at an alarming rate for a D line that gets good pressure.

Yes, they’ve been allowing quarterbacks to complete 61.1% of their passes, up from 53.8% last year. However, they allowed 48% over the first three games and 78% over the last three, so this is more of a recent problem.

Fatigue is definitely a factor. Their pass rush has pretty much never been at full strength because Coples clearly isn’t 100% yet based on his snap count and now Barnes is done for the year and they’ve also been limited in the secondary. In the Bills and Falcons game you could perhaps attribute some of it to the fact that they backed off into a softer defense with the lead and allowed the opposition to take what they were given, but that wasn’t the case in the Titans or Steelers games.

Ryan has fixed secondaries in more disarray than this one during previous seasons. Let’s see if he can repeat the feat.

a57se
It seemed like Pittsburgh abandoned the run even sooner then Atlanta. It looks like the way going forward against the Jets Defense is get the ball out of the QB’s hand in less then 2.5 seconds. Seems to me the Jets ought to respond by pressing the receivers really hard at the line to disrupt their routes as much as possible. This is basically what Pittsburgh does to us and did to NE when they upset them a couple years ago. Any thoughts, Bent?

For the record, Atlanta ran the ball 14 times in the first half and eight times in the second half. Pittsburgh ran it nine times in the first half and 17 times in the second half. Of course, much of that was due to the fact that the Falcons had to pass while trailing and the Steelers had the lead and wanted the clock to keep moving even if they weren’t making consistent yardage. I don’t know if you could say they abandoned the run sooner, although I guess they did use it less in the first half (they both passed 19 times in the first half).

In terms of the less-than-2.5-seconds statistic, let’s look into whether that’s the key. Ben Roethlisberger was 17-for-21 when he threw before 2.5 seconds were up and 6-of-9 when he waited longer than that. Matt Ryan was 24-for-30 QB rating on quick passes and 12-for-15 otherwise. In fact, only EJ Manuel saw a significant improvement in his completion percentage when he had more time to throw. Maybe it’s not as crucial as you think.

Pressing at the line would be one way to prevent those quick passes being completed at such a high rate.

ihatemarino
In your experience watching Rex Ryan defenses what is the greater equalizer on defense: talent or scheme? I know both are important and realize this is a very general question but I’m wondering what it is based on my perceived lack of talent this secondary has which in turn has lead to poor pass defense. Which lead me to my next question: is my perception accurate? Tennessee was a tough game for the D with all the turnovers but it seemed like Atlanta could pass at will on us especially intermediate passes. I never felt confident we could stop Ben if we needed to like we couldn’t stop Matt Ryan last week though it never got to that point. And let’s be honest, Brady and Freeman had brutal games. They missed the targets consistently even when open. Also Brady had a lot of passes dropped on him. Is my take accurate or am I making to much of what I’ve seen?

Ryan had the number one defense with Drew Coleman, Lito Sheppard and Dwight Lowery playing significant reps at cornerback, so I don’t know if I’d agree that the team is currently hurting for talent. Losing Revis and having Cromartie banged up hasn’t helped (nor have the injuries to the likes of Berry and Milliner), but the Jets have a group of guys that could all probably start somewhere in the NFL, in my opinion.

It’s been a concern, definitely, but if they eradicated all the blown coverages, things would look a lot better.

Bdarc23
For the last 2 years it seems like every time the Jets blitz it gets picked up and it often costs them a 1st down passing play. Are the Jets bad blitzers compared to other top defenses? For example, it seemed like the Titans got to Geno two weeks ago on the blitz anytime they wanted to.

Obviously any blitz comes not without risk. In the Titans game, Tennessee blitzed 18 times, but three of their five sacks actually came when they didn’t blitz. It was more effective though – Geno Smith was actually 16-for-19 when NOT blitzed.

The issue with the Jets is that teams are always anticipating a blitz and ready to get rid of the ball early. That can mean that the passes thrown when they blitz are rushed or ineffective and that’s been the case in previous seasons. In other words, the THREAT of pressure has been more effective than the pressure itself. For that reason, I’m reluctant to dig into how often the blitz will generate pressure because that’s not necessarily a measure of how effective it has been – especially when compared with teams blitzing against the Jets whose quarterbacks have been guilty of holding the ball for too long at times over the past few seasons.

I will share the following stats though. The Jets have blitzed just 64 times all season and only four of their 19 sacks came when blitzing. In 2010, they blitzed 27 times in the season opener alone.

Bdarc23
Are the Jets running the Revis defense with Cromartie in the role of Revis? Is Cro struggling because he is just not good enough be on an island?

They’ve actually been running a lot more zone coverages instead of leaving him in man-to-man coverage and that’s been one area where he’s been involved in a couple of coverage breakdowns. As we know, the book on Cromartie is that he is better in man-to-man than in zone, so the changing up of coverages has been detrimental to his performance. However, he has certainly been burned in man-to-man coverages a lot more than Revis would (or even than Cromartie himself was for the majority of last year). I’d imagine the injuries are a factor in that. He does seem a step slower.

WesleyWalker
Can you please discuss the Jets pass defense big picture? I can’t quite extract from your player-by-player analysis the reason that the Jets have been so vulnerable to the quick passing game for the last two (three?) weeks. Both weeks, and especially this week, it seemed that our opponents were able to consistently move the ball from pretty deep in their own territory into field goal range by throwing lots of small passes. Is it a problem with scheme? Miscommunications? Talent in the backfield? What one or two changes do you think the Jets could make that would help the most help in this regard?

I’ve gone into more detail above, but I definitely think it’s a combination of all the factors you listed. In terms of changes, they might like to try simplifying things rather than switching between coverages because the needle is swinging away from the benefit of confusing the opponent and towards the downside of giving up too many plays due to breakdowns. Also, I’m not going to stop beating the drum for Lankster until he gets an opportunity because his performance last year was better than much of what we’ve seen this year.

Jetsfan29
What are the defensive stats thus far?

That’s a bit of an open-ended question!

The NFL ranks them 17th against the pass and 2nd against the run. Football Outsiders ranks them 16th against the pass and 1st against the run. PFF ranks them 1st against the run, 25th in terms of pass rush and 30th in terms of pass coverage.

Jetsfan29
Did WRs get open? Seems they were covered, but curious if Geno missed throws.

Didn’t see any obvious missed opportunities other than the deep ball he threw to Hill. I wonder if a pump fake to Reuland and then a throw down the middle to Cumberland would have removed the safety from the equation and given him an open receiver at the goal line.

Jetsfan29
How many play action passes did we throw?

Just 10, including only one in the last 20 minutes. Smith completed six for 60 yards but had one interception.

Jetsfan29
Why wasn’t Cumberland utilized more?

He’s been in and out of the gameplan throughout the season, so it’s really not a surprise to see him catch just one short pass in the first half and then have a productive second half with 55 yards on three catches. As the number one tight end for the time being, he will draw more defensive attention, but generally his first half inactivity was merely a product of the playcalling, because they passed just seven times in the first 29 minutes and many of those were quick passes to the outside.

juunit
On the opening kickoff, Trufant ran across the formation, ending up running down the middle of the field and making the play. Was that a break from the norm or have we been doing that on kickoffs with regularity?

They don’t always do it and it’s not always Trufant – sometimes Lankster does it instead or even in addition to Trufant, but it is nothing new. The reason you won’t have noticed it before is that the TV camera often focuses on the kicker rather than a wide angle shot.

a57se
How many hospital balls has Geno thrown so far? By my count he is up to at least eight as he added three more this game.

Depends how you define hospital balls, but if you’re talking about plays when his receiver got hurt, one of those was the throw to Hill just before halftime which was arguably one of his best throws all day, so I don’t know if that’s a bad thing.

Rayman
It seemed like geno threw behind receivers on multiple occasions. Any validity to this statement and if so, was it mechanics, or confusion on coverage (ie Geno reading zone -sit in the holes, and WRs reading man?)

He has been, at times, throughout the season and you can’t always tell the reason why. Again, I’d say it’s a combination of all those factors you listed.

Prof. Mike
I am curious if you have the numbers for when Geno is in shotgun v. under center. I know a knock on him coming out of college was that he might struggle to adapt from the NFL since he would be transitioning from a shotgun offense to a prostyle (even though WVU ran a prostyle the year before) and I am curious to see if that has been the case thus far.

Some interesting numbers here. First of all, he threw the ball 11 times from under center in game one but that’s easily a season high and he’s only averaged just under six a game since then. Also, he had more success in that game, completing nine of 11 for 85 yards (with one touchdown and one interception). Overall, he is 25-for-40 for 294 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions (61.9 QB rating). That means that when in the shotgun, he’s been 88-for-149 for 1,196 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions (79.1 QB rating). Over the last three games, he’s been an efficient 11-for-16 for 178 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions when under center (87.0 QB rating).

Note: There is one pass that doesn’t count as either because Bilal Powell took the snap and Smith was initially lined up out wide.

GhostofBrowningNagle
I’m sure someone, somewhere, has figured out the record of teams coming off a bye against teams coming in on a short week. Anyone have any idea what that might be? I’m curious how much of an advantage its proven to be historically…or if there is even a large enough sample size. Seems like it happens a few times a season. If we could go back ten years that would have to be a decent number of games i’d think?

This is a couple of weeks out of date, but I found the following from covers.com – “Since 2001, teams coming off the bye week are 201-172-3″. I can’t find any “coming off a short week” stats, sadly.

By-Tor
Looking at guys like VJax they seem pretty huge. Do you think Hill has room to grow into his body some more? I cringe every time he gets hit.

I know what you mean, Hill looks very lean and lanky. I think that’s just the way he’s built, but I’m sure the Jets will look to build him up as much as they can without compromising his athletic gifts.

MaynardFan
Geno usually has a good touch on long throws. Did Hill stutter step after Geno threw the bomb to him in the 2nd qtr or did Geno just get too much on it?

He just got too much on it. Didn’t see any kind of stumble.

a57se
Oh, one other observation, did Troy Polamalu look chubby out there?

No.

Bdarc23
The Jets avg’d 17.6 ppg last year and are now at 17.3 this year. The offense appears just as bad this year as it did last year. The QB play is just as bad. Is it just my disappointment with yesterday’s game or are people giving way too much credit to the genius of MM and the play of Geno?

Well, they are gaining 36.5 yards more per game, but that’s still only good enough to place them 20th in the NFL, so I would agree that they are getting too much credit in some quarters. Injuries have been a factor though, just like last year, where they were statistically one of the worst offenses in the league but wouldn’t have been with everyone healthy.

Jetsfan29
Genos 1st int, do you think that Cumby ran the wrong route or did Geno actually think Reuland would beat double coverage in the end zone? Also, did Cro actually get beat as bad as the replay looks? Or was it a coverage breakdown? Looks like he was getting beat and everytime we play Pitt Cro gives up the long TD.

I know Smith said this was supposed to be a throw away, but having seen the coaches film, it still looks to me like Smith was looking for Cumberland by the pylon. Looking at Cumberland’s route, I think he was always going to break inside, but I think Smith was expecting him to read the coverage and go to the pylon where he would have been open. Two possibilities here. Either the throw-away line was because he didn’t want to blame Cumberland or he saw Cumberland break to the inside but had already started his throwing motion so he tried to put some extra juice on it to throw it away in that direction, but failed to anticipate the safety heading in that direction.

It’s obvious from his reaction that Cromartie was expecting help to the inside, so that excuses him slightly. However, there was no help to his inside and he perhaps should have realized that because the safety was up in the box. While Cromartie was beaten for a touchdown in last year’s meeting, he actually only gave up four catches for 56 yards (no touchdowns) in his previous two encounters against the Steelers with the Jets.

JayM
Do you know the stat of the jets short yardage efficiency? It seems that the Jets have not been doing to well this year.

Offense or defense? Eh, whatever, I’ll give you both.

On offense, their power success per FO is 50%. That’s 23rd in the league and a drop from last year where they were 10th at 67%. On defense, the success rate is 45% which places them 4th.

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That’s it for this week. Thank you for your great questions and comments. Sorry it was a day late. I’ll be back on Sunday to preview the Patriots game.