BGA Extra: Texans at Jets

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 Monday night’s game against the Texans. 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.

Levi•
How much help are they leaving back to help out the offensive line on pass plays? How aggressive was Rex with his blitzing? It seems like he doesnt blitz nearly as much as he used to. I kinda liked seeing them send the house once in a while but not too much of course they did get burned sometimes.

They are, as expected, giving a lot more help by leaving guys in and it’s working. While you could say it gives Sanchez fewer options in the passing game, wasn’t there talk that they were going to simplify the number of available reads for him anyway? The numbers – on Monday, 32 extra blockers stayed in on 35 dropbacks, so almost one per play on average. Under Schottenheimer, less than one every two snaps was the norm. These numbers don’t even account for when a player throws a chip block and then runs a route, which happens a lot more under Sparano.

This was not an aggressive blitzing game by Ryan at all. They blitzed eight times, compared with 21 for Houston. Average pass rushers sent: Less than 4.2 per play. In some of his more aggressive games, this would be around five.

will•
Why is every front 7 we play against able to stop our running game, tip our passes, and put a lot more pressure on our QB?

It may seem like that, but the Jets have just faced arguably the three best defenses in the NFL over the last four weeks. It therefore shouldn’t be like that every week, even if the offensive line doesn’t improve as it starts to gel, which it is showing signs of doing. The pressure from the Texans (13 total pressures) this week was basically the same as what they generate every week on average (14.0). Same with the Steelers (13/12.4) and the 49ers (13/12.3).

damion•
Help me to understand how the Jets are going to beat these so called weaker teams. They in fact are a weaker team to tell the truth. Players keep going down with injuries, they seemly never get a lucky break, the defense can’t stop the run or get to the Qb. What is the recipe for success? They easily could be 1-4 right now, do moral victories get you into the playoffs? Sure they did well in the second half but the jets generally get off to slow starts as a team who or what is to blame?

The Jets – with a couple of key players out – nearly beat the Texans on Monday. Unless that was the final death throes of a team that’s about to collapse, or unless they continue losing key players at the same rate, they can play better than that and they will be facing teams not as good as the Texans pretty much the rest of the way. Wouldn’t you say that’s going to mean they’re likely to be competitive every week?

Sure, they’ll probably blow some winnable games because of the holes in their roster, but if they can hang with the Texans while missing a couple of guys, they should be able to beat some lesser teams when they’re at “full” strength.
You nailed the recipe for success already: They need to get healthy, have some luck and start to play better up front. As for the slow starts, it’s been on the defensive side of the ball this year. Offensively they have scored first quarter touchdowns in three of the first five games – a much better rate than last year – and, as I noted in BGA, Sanchez’s first quarter numbers are excellent (64.5% and 98.0 rating).

a57se•
You stated: “These were some well-designed plays from the league’s best running team, but the Jets did manage to make an adjustment in the second half.” Exactly what adjustments did they make?

I was speaking more in general teams – like, guys were getting to the edge quicker to force runs back inside, or holding their ground a lot better. However, two coaching changes they seemed to make were to drop Pace off the line slightly, so that he had more chance of getting outside to keep contain and also to use some heavy three DB sets against Houston’s run personnel packages.

a57se•
You stated: “Quinton Coples [is] someone else who isn’t being helped by the injuries in the front seven.” Would you please explain HOW Coples play isn’t being helped by the injuries to the front seven? From your write-up it sounds like Coples was not being doubled but was holding his own. I’m not sure how not being doubled means he isn’t being helped.

While Coples wasn’t being doubled, the Texans often had a spare man (or more than one) in pass protection. While the spare man usually ended up picking up Wilkerson, Coples would have benefited a lot more from the nose tackle getting a push to collapse the pocket or from someone providing a threat off the edge that he could run a loop stunt behind. If Po’uha was healthy, they’d have to double team him and Wilkerson a lot of the time, which would create more room for him to go to work. Also, he could get some cleanup sacks when other players create pressure to flush a quarterback his way or make plays in the running game a lot easier if everyone else is standing their ground.

madbacker #57•
How come Scott didn’t get a pressure when he was chasing Schaub out of the pocket?

Scott did this a couple of times and while it does represent a positive contribution, it wouldn’t be counted as a pressure unless he (a) actually got to the quarterback so that he was under pressure as he threw or (b) flushed the quarterback out of the pocket himself by beating his man. On these instances, Schaub was unable to find anyone downfield and just rolled out to keep the play alive for a bit longer rather than being pressured into doing so directly. There are sometimes good (and bad) plays in pass protection which don’t give rise to a pressure statistic (another example is when someone gets beat but the ball is thrown or someone else makes the sack before they get there) and I do mention these when relevant.

LMP23•
In BGA extra can you discuss the possibility that Sanchez’s throwing shoulder may be hurt? I seem to remember at the end of last season or the beginning of preseason. Sanchez said his shoulder was hurt. During the second or third preseason game they showed Sanchez on the sideline with his shoulder wrapped. I’ve said it on here before, but noone has acknowledged it. Is this a possibility for the accuracy issues this year?

I had a mini-rant about this in the comments earlier this week. EVERY season, Sanchez hits a slump and everyone seems to ask this question. It’s a good question, because if the injury is the only reason he’s been inaccurate then that suggests that a healthy Sanchez is capable of much better. HOWEVER, I grow tired of answering this question every year because even if the injury is to blame, if he’s going to have an injury excuse every year, then when is he actually going to be healthy? Yes, it could be hurt and that could be the only thing holding him back, but should the Jets really be paying him $10m a year when history tells us that he will probably get hurt every year and continue to play like this … or – if the injury isn’t a viable excuse – play like this anyway?

bradysucks•
If McElroy was to start and the Jets got rid of Tebow and Sanchez then how much money would that free up for Tannenbaum to go grocery shopping? That would be enough money to go out and get another good lineman, running back, and receiver correct?

Sure, in theory. They’d need to trade Sanchez to get off the hook for his 2013 salary (or wait until after next year to make this move) for this to be viable. There’s no guarantee that McElroy will be as good as Sanchez (and unless things really go south, we probably won’t get enough of a look at him to determine whether that’s even a remote possibility), but I do agree that if Sanchez plays like this all year, they could easily get someone cheaper to replicate his performance and improve the team elsewhere, if that’s the route they decided to go down.

Droseatwork (via e-mail)•
Have you noticed how far off the line Ellis plays? He’s a solid yard off the ball. Pouha is a lot closer to the ball. Do you think this is why Ellis is pushed off the ball so much?

I have noticed this at times, but it looks like this is part of the way they line up. They usually have one of the two defensive tackles just off the line and it depends which one is shading a lineman and which one is directly opposite. If you look back over footage from earlier in the year, you’ll notice DeVito doing the same thing. As for Ellis getting pushed off the ball, it hasn’t happened *that* much and during this week’s game he made a few decent plays from that slightly-back-off-the-line position, so I don’t think that prevents him from being effective.

Private Jet•
Worst QB evah?

How about this guy?

By the way, if you do a google image search for “Worst QB ever” you get three Tebows, a Grossman, a Leaf and a Namath.

Nick11•
Do you believe Tebow should get a series to try and kickstart the running game? I just feel we have better personnel than the weapons he had in Denver and refuse to believe we cant run.

I agree with you – and I was a guy that used to say BRAD SMITH should get a whole series. However, the downside is apparent, when Sanchez gets booed back onto the field every time he goes out there after Tebow makes a play. With his apparently fragile psyche at the moment, that could be risky. Of course, if they stick with Tebow for the whole drive and commit to that, then they needn’t worry about Sanchez re-entering.

damion•
What will it take for Mark Sanchez to get benched? Outside of week one tell me the last time he had a good game, and not a good game in terms of what a good game by Sanchez standards is, I mean a game where you can say he was on his game and he looked like the better QB on the field that day?

He was great in the 2008 Rose Bowl!

I don’t think they’ll bench him outright any time soon, but I could see them phasing Tebow in gradually (which maybe was the plan all along). However, I don’t really expect Tebow to play well enough to win the job outright either.

‘NYCPE’inGermany•
It looked to me like the tipped pass/INT at the end of the 1st half was going to be behind Kerley anyway – what do you think? And WTF is with the team’s pathetic use of Tebow? 4th and inches – even though they converted it, think it might have a better chance with Tebow running the sneak? I hope they’re holding back some Tebow plays for later in the season. The only way I see Tebow starting is if Sanchez gets hurt.

Tebow isn’t that comfortable under center, but I still think the “shotgun sneak” is a high percentage play. Maybe that’s one of the ones they’re holding back. As for the throw to Kerley, maybe it was slightly behind him, but it still would have been a touchdown, barring a bad drop from Kerley. Obviously he couldn’t lead the receiver any more than he did, because Watt already got a fingertip to the ball, so it would have been even closer to him.

Disgruntled Jets Fan•
You’ve always been pretty diplomatic, but it sounds like you’ve run out of patience with Mark. What do you think is a reasonable plan at QB going forward?

Last year, I often tried to suggest that Sanchez was holding the offense back and it wasn’t a popular point of view. Having said that, I haven’t totally lost patience with him. I still think he should start and that he can play better. He obviously HAS to play better and I think the coaching staff could do a better job of putting him in a position to succeed. I didn’t particularly like the decision to extend him, although I can see why they did it – to show faith in him and build up his confidence, while also perhaps encouraging him to work as hard as ever. Maybe the Tebow trade undid a lot of that, or maybe it was doomed not to work out anyway. I’ve seen worse 25-year old quarterbacks go on to become good players, so all is not lost for Sanchez. However, with the crowd’s patience waning and New York’s cutthroat attitude towards its franchise players, time is definitely running out for him.

jet4lif•
What are the stats on Sanchez’s passes being batted down before this game? How does it compare with any other short QB, let’s say Brees.

Since you wrote this question, you’ll no doubt have seen Bassett’s post about tipped passes that contained the numbers. Essentially, he had 15 in 2010 (first in the league) and 15 in 2011 (third), so clearly it is an issue for him. However, he only had five in 2009 and this year, he only had one entering the Texans game (where he had four more). Now, you’ll probably say there’s no way that he only had one entering this week and that he had way more than four on Monday. However, it’s important to note that the numbers used there are “Batted Passes” from PFF. Batted passes occur when you rush the passer. If you drop into coverage and deflect a pass, as JJ Watt did a couple of times, that’s a pass defensed and gets grouped with downfield pass breakups rather than classified with the rest of the passes knocked down at the line.

Essentially, what I’m saying is that the numbers are pretty bad, but the reality is perhaps even worse. The low number in 2009 is likely because they rolled him out a lot more that year. I’d suggest that’s something they should do with him more often this year too.

Finally, you asked for a comparison with Brees. Bearing in mind the limitations of the stat mentioned above, he was 3rd in 2008, 5th in 2009, 11th in 2010 and 22nd in 2011. That shows a clear improvement year on year. Having said that, he leads the league with seven so far this year!

jcohen3139•
It is really all coming into focus this year. Mark Sanchez is the #1 problem on this team. They do have a number of pretty big issues to deal with, but over last season and so far this year, I think it is fair to say that Sanchez was responsible for at least 4 losses. In other words, with any other average NFL QB, there would have likely been a different outcome in these games. Even during his first 2 years, he caused a few losses, but he was growing and we all saw the progression. Last year and this year have been really scary. Put together his regression, Sparano’s arrival, and Tebow’s arrival…makes for a really lethal combination. At this point do you see any realistic way for Sanchez to turn it around?

Sure. He’s making a lot of boneheaded mistakes and struggling to get into a good rhythm. If he cuts out the boneheaded mistakes and gets into a better rhythm, he’ll play better. That will help his confidence and will also force defenses to drop back, perhaps opening up room for the running game, which will make his play-action fakes more effective, which will… Well, you get the idea. Keller and Hill’s return, plus more in-synch play from the run blockers and facing some weaker opponents will all help his confidence too.

a57se•
Could you break down the throw to Cro that has caused so much consternation this week. I would like to know where Cro was in relation to the CB when Sanchez started to throw the ball. I got the impression watching the TV replay that Cro had not gotten the separation yet when Sanchez started his throw so he may have been anticipating the CB being tight to Cro with inside leverage hence the throw was more of an attempt at a back shoulder fade, sort of like the play against the Colts in the playoffs to Edwards.

Did it? I hadn’t noticed.

Sanchez released the pass as Cromartie drew even with Joseph, but it should have been apparent to Sanchez that Cromartie was moving at full speed and Joseph had been frozen by his pump fake. Rewatching the footage, it’s brutally apparent that Cromartie had to slow down to catch the ball and it was probably underthrown by a good 10-15 yards. Being as objective as I possibly can, maybe he underestimated Cromartie’s speed (which was really impressive on that play).

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Looks like BGA will be back with a scouting report on the new DT Daniel Muir, hopefully on Friday. Check back here then.