BGA Extra: Jets at Chargers

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 the game against the Chargers. If you would like your questions answered in future, remember to read BGA each week and leave your question in the comments section.

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BGA Wrap-up: Jets at Chargers

I’ve been venting about this game all day and I don’t really have much anger left in me. All that’s left is a feeling that this team isn’t going to give us much to look forward to over the rest of the season.

I initially took this performance as a personal affront because they were so badly beaten it makes everything positive I’ve ever written about them look stupid. THANKS FOR NOTHING, GUYS!

You could be forgiven for writing off this upcoming two-game stretch as two inevitable losses. We’ve reached the point where asking for anything more than some brief signs of life seems like it would be wishful thinking. They’re not going to keep these games close the way they’re playing at the moment.

Go ahead and prove me wrong again, Jets. I dare you.

There are links to each BGA article or the option to read the offensive and/or defensive BGA in full after the jump.

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BGA: Nothing special

Special teams had very little effect on yesterday’s result, so it’s tough to pin the result on that unit. However, at the same time, when a team so desperately lacks a spark, you’d like there to be some hope that your special teams might provide that once in a while.

Saalim Hakim is a perfect example. I know he’s fast and the team loves that about him. However, shoehorning him into a kick return role where he shows poor instincts and even worse hands is not helping. Hakim was stuffed at about the 15 yard line three times yesterday, not ideal starting position for a team that can’t get anything going. Obviously all of these were poor decisions and on at least one, he didn’t get a running start because he seemed to misjudge the flight of the ball and didn’t catch in cleanly on the move. On one other kick, he dropped it altogether.

Hakim can make positive contributions and generally does at least one thing every week to help the team. This week, he got downfield well on a punt and drew an illegal block in the back penalty to pin the Chargers deep in their territory. However, any good work goes up in smoke when you make a mistake like headbutting an opponent to give the Chargers 15 free yards and starting position in your half. He’s got to be smarter than that.

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BGA: Identity Crisis

While Antonio Allen was filling in at cornerback, I saw quite a few people suggest that this would serve him well once he returned to his more natural position of safety. Well, with Dee Milliner returning, Allen was back in the starting line-up at the safety position. This would give us an excellent opportunity to assess how this is likely to go. Or would it?

In fact, although Calvin Pryor came off the bench, he only missed a total of eight snaps, with Dawan Landry playing every snap. So, Allen was either a nickel back or a third safety the rest of the time. Allen would ultimately play just 25 snaps, with over half of these seeing him matched up against a player lined up out wide or in the slot. When he did this, he was matching up almost exclusively with Antonio Gates rather than a receiver.

So, how would those coverage skills serve him when he lined up against Gates on the outside of a tight formation in the red zone? Well, Gates gave him about as much of a veteran schooling as you could get on his first touchdown. Allen went in for the jam and Gates deftly knocked his hands away like Bruce Lee deflecting a couple of punches. This rocked Allen and gave Gates the separation he needed to easily break to the outside. Later on, Gates again beat Allen for a score. Gates had one other catch so it’s not like Allen got destroyed all day, but this is probably the best use of Allen in this defense right now, because I don’t think his positional awareness and read/react instincts are good enough to employ him in center field at this time.

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BGA: Piling it on

All season, I’ve been wondering why the Jets haven’t been using Quinton Coples and Jason Babin together in pass rush packages very often. For much of the season, Babin has replaced Coples in pass rushing situations. The Jets had employed them together sparingly with just four plays featuring them both on the field – two of which had ended in sacks and one of which was a run for a loss. The other one was just a three yard gain.

The Jets did, however, finally install some pass rush packages with both Coples and Babin in the game. These didn’t all involve one on either side. One package for example had Coples as a defensive tackle with rookie IK Enemkpali and Babin at the ends. What these seven plays did do is generate a lot of pressure. One was a run for a three yard loss, but on the other six, the Jets generated pressure on four of them, hitting Rivers twice. Of the other two, one was a quick dump-off for a five yard gain and the other was an incomplete deep ball as they left extra guys in to block. On the four plays where he was pressured, Rivers still completed three of them. While one was just another short gain, the other two were touchdown passes.

That just goes to show that generating pressure is only half the battle, but the Jets do seem to have the tools at their disposal to do that in key situations. This might not start to pay dividends until they get past the “playing an elite quarterback every week” portion of their schedule though.

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BGA: Cutting off the nose to spite the face

The Jets got gashed for 162 yards on the ground by a team that was averaging 2.4 yards per carry through four weeks. To some extent, it serves them right.

Backup nose tackle Kenrick Ellis played really well last year, but with his contract up at the end of the season you have to wonder if the team has already made a decision to move on from him. Ellis was inactive for the second straight week and while I can appreciate the forward-thinking nature of trying to figure out the best way to move on without him, he is still on the team and capable of producing while he’s here and it is wasteful not to exploit that.

Unless there’s more to it, there seems to be a stubborn nature to some of these moves. If you’re unwilling to reactivate the guy because it makes last week’s decision look wrong, then you probably need to re-evaluate your priorities. Instead you’re left with an overstretched line, a loss of cohesion and a popular player left out of the mix in his contract year while his trade value and the value of any compensatory pick you might get for him evaporate.

Youngster TJ Barnes struggled badly last week in Ellis’ place, so he was inactive. Fair enough. But to not then activate Ellis and leave yourselves with just four active linemen is bordering on lunacy. I know Rex Ryan has said that he is responsible for on-field decisions about who plays, but surely he can’t have been behind this decision.

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