BGA Extra – Jets at Lions

Disclaimer: All analysis was taken from the TV coverage, so at times it may have been hard to identify players or what was happening, because I was limited by their footage. However, I have tried to be as accurate as possible and apologize for any inaccuracies or omissions (which I am happy to correct).

Before we move on to look ahead to the Browns game, it’s time to take a final look back at the win over Detroit on Sunday. After the jump, I respond to your questions from the comments in the original BGA post, which you can access here if you missed it.

I like the fact that on several good running plays this year [Braylon Edwards] has been throwing some blocks to help spring the runner. Not all wide receivers do that effectively. I’d also like to see more three receiver sets with Keller in at TE. I’d be curious to know how many times we’ve done that and how effective it was when we did it. – LCG

It depends on the opponent. Against New England, they were certainly more successful running the ball from 3-wide sets, but against Buffalo, they ran better with extra tight ends or fullbacks in the game. It’s nice to have an offense with the personnel to do both, especially when some teams have the personnel to do neither.

On Sunday, the 3-wide with Keller at TE was all they ran from 4:26 to go in the fourth until Holmes catch put them in range. That’s 17 plays in a row and included 3 runs for 14 yards and a TD (Sanchez).

Prior to that, they used it 11 times and ran once from the formation, on 2nd and 19 for a 10 yard gain. This was definitely by design, because both fullbacks were effective when they were in the game.

When you guys do BGA, check out the pass plays in the beginning of the game i feel like we didnt throw the ball farther than 5 yard in the whole first quarter it was all slants and screens. I was really hoping for something to stretch the field, I mean we ran the ball up the middle or threw a slant every time both safetys were up but we wouldnt take a shot. – cmonleon

There were actually only six passes thrown by the Jets in the first quarter, because Detroit held the ball for over nine minutes. Sanchez was 3-for-6 for 13 yards. The three incompletions were a comebacker to Edwards 10 yards downfield, a quick slant to Cotchery and a quick out to Edwards about 10 yards downfield.

Although they didn’t throw downfield in the first quarter, that changed over the course of the game, as they threw 15 passes more than ten yards downfield. They obviously decided not to take any chances downfield in the first quarter. I’d liken this to when they used to use a color-code system to reign in Sanchez. Although they don’t use the system any more, Sanchez had either been told that he needed to take care of the ball in the early stages, especially after they fell behind, or made that decision on his own. It looked like an unspoken “red”, but whether that was self-imposed or part of the gameplan is anyone’s guess.

Another factor is that teams are flooding the box to make the short and intermediate routes tougher to read. This means that the cornerbacks can play off their man to take away the long passes as well. What this means is that there are one-on-one matchups to be exploited, but you need to make quick throws to get that going. Eventually, this will set up some downfield stuff later on, as the cornerbacks have to play their man more honestly.

With Keller blocking better this year, wouldn’t a simple base package of two wides, Keller, FB and either Greene/LT in the backfield [be successful?] From this package you can run or in the case of 8-9 in the box release Keller with three in pattern off of the play action with FB for protection and LT/SG releasing as the outlet. Maybe Bent can shed some light on the running game to see if Adding Hartsock or Hunter to the package makes it to predictable or in they pass from that package too limited? – The other Tom B

They used two RB, two WR and one TE formations more than any other, although three WR, one back, one TE formations were close behind, albeit only because they went to the three-wide set 17 times in a row at the end of the game. Other formations only made up 21% of the offense.

The difference between Hartsock/Hunter as compared with Keller is that they will stay in to block much more often than Keller, so when they come into the game, it isn’t necessarily always to run block. On the year, Keller has only stayed in to block 1% of the time and on 2% of pass plays, because he either run blocks or runs a route. With Hunter in, you might be surprised to learn that the Jets actually pass 35% of the time. With Hartsock in, the percentage of passes is slightly lower (31%), but his role is less predictable because he runs a route on 63% of passes and stays in to block on 37%.

Why don’t they pass to Edwards and Holmes more often? Why not play Holmes more? I like Cotchery but he’s having a terrible year. – Brandon

They’ve already made a move in that direction. On Sunday, Braylon had 65 snaps, Holmes 56 and Cotchery 48. Also, Holmes was thrown to nine times, Edwards seven and Cotchery just five. They mustn’t forget Cotchery altogether though. We know how good he can be and a return to form will galvanize the offense.

Given how many times the running back gets stuffed, the Jets O-line must not be run blocking as well as last year. – Brandon

The running game got stuffed plenty last year too. They were just forced to stick with it because they couldn’t rely on Sanchez and they broke more long runs. On the whole, no, they haven’t blocked as well and the two biggest culprits have been Brandon Moore and Nick Mangold. Moore has been inconistent and Mangold, while good, has been nowhere near as dominant as last year, although that’s at least partially attributable to him working his way through some injuries. Tony Richardson has actually been better, although he is still pretty inconsistent.

Did you notice if when Sanchez holds the ball forever any of his wideouts ever look to bail him out by coming back to him or do they just sit deep? – Jason

You don’t always get a good view of this from the TV footage, but my sense is that with linebackers and safeties playing underneath and cornerbacks often playing off their man, Sanchez is reluctant to throw to anyone with a defender nearby. As for the receivers, you obviously want some of them to go deep to clear some of the defenders out and create room. If everyone comes back to the ball, that doesn’t make life any easier. Holmes has a solid reputation for freelancing once a primary option is covered, but the Jets haven’t exploited that much, although there was one play when Sanchez stepped up and found him over the middle.

Any chance Kyle Wilson is inactive next week? I kind of think they may as well give McKnight a chance to return punts at this point. – Jason

When I saw that Wilson fumbled, I didn’t expect to see him again that day, but they gave him another shot and he even made an appearance on defense (on both occasions showing blitz but then dropping into coverage). Beyond that, I’d be guessing, but that was certainly a thought that went through my mind at the time.

Any chance Santonio will get a chance to return punts? I think he was lobbying for a chance back in camp. – Santon10holmes

Nice idea, but I think they’ll just retain Leonhard in that role for most of the time. If the team punting is backed up, then that’s when they might give him a shot, if they’re prepared to risk it.

It seems as though each game has one receiver that receives most of the targets, especially in the first half. I would think we would move the ball around more. Was Edwards consistently the only open receiver or was there a match up we were determined to try to exploit?
– jmike

The primary option tend to be a guy in single coverage. It seemed like they rolled the safety support over to Edwards’ side after he was targeted five times in the first half. Holmes was then targeted six times in the second half. Another example was last week, where Santonio Holmes was 3-43 in the first half and then shut out the rest of the way (albeit with some drops). Overall, the targets have been pretty evenly spread, so I think any perceived imbalance is a product of the matchups they are looking to attack.

Keller seems to have given up a lot of targets to Holmes return. I wouldn’t have guessed that. I would have thought Cotchery would have lost the most targets but his have seemed to actually have increased with Edwards seemingly staying about the same. Has Holmes return significantly changed our offensive set counts and is Keller a receiving option on less plays or our other teams just doing a better job of taking him away? – jmike

Teams have definitely become more aware of Keller and giving him more attention. Most teams have been using zone packages to counter him, although he was able to exploit one-on-one coverage from Julian Peterson at the end of the game. Keller actually had 15 catches for 226 yards in the first 2.5 games and has 15 catches for 221 in the last 5.5 games. His targets have dropped from 6.5 per game pre-Holmes to 5.3 since he arrived. As noted above, Cotchery’s playing time and looks decreased this week. Prior to that, he had been getting more looks since Holmes arrived, presumably because he is now seeing more single coverage.

About our RBs…there are those who say/think LT is slowing down…I dont think so…RBs usually need to be fed the ball to get going in full stride…but over the past 4 games i feel that we’ve been a pass happy team…especially the past 2 games…we have to stick to the run and we will see LT and GREENE light things up…and we’ll be the # 1 rushing team in the league again – dakar

Tomlinson broke 15 tackles in the first five games, then didn’t break another until the fourth quarter in week nine. So, maybe he is slowing down. His yards per carry have dipped too. Whereas Thomas Jones (who this week was 19-32 with a fumble) operates best when averaging 20 carries, it seems Tomlinson’s carries are usually around 15 per game and I don’t think he’d benefit from getting more looks. So, more Shonn Greene is perhaps the answer, but the running game was pretty pedestrian these last two weeks, so I don’t think running more would have helped.

We play a lot better and so does Sanchez when we run the ball 40 times a game rather then throwing it 40 times a game…1st 4 games we ran it equal to or more then passing it and sanchez threw for 8 TDs and no INTs…the past 4 games we threw it more and sanchez has 2 TDs to 5 INTs…we need to go back to what works…and not force sanchez to win games for us – dakar

The game is going to dictate whether or not you can run 40 times. Against Baltimore, they only ran 49 PLAYS because they kept getting stopped. If you’re moving the ball and making long drives, then you can run it a lot, but you need a balanced attack to get to that point. In terms of “going back to what works”, the running game hasn’t been working in the last few weeks (per both Rex and Schottenheimer), so passing to loosen the defensive front and then run the ball would appear to be the smart approach.

[Please look at] the amount of patterns/pass attempts broken down by depth. Without watching the game again, it seemed that the first 3 quarters, with a few exceptions, every pass pattern was run/thrown to within 10 yards. – They Chose Me

As noted above, they seemed to use the short passing to set up some downfield stuff later on, which the breakdown will show was successful. (Remember, Sanchez was 0-7 on 20+ yarders a few weeks ago).

Behind the line of scrimmage – 4-5-13 yards
0-9 yards – 9-16-63 yards
10-19 yards – 6-10-130 yards
20+ yards – 3-5-130 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception
Other (ie Spike, thrown away, batted down) – 0-3-0 yards

When there are 12 players on the field in the endzone, why don’t they run out of the BACK of the endzone, instead of all the way across the field? – They Chose Me

I can answer this one:

From the NFL rules:

Players leaving the game must be out of bounds on their own side, clearing the field between the end lines, before a snap or free kick. If player crosses end line leaving field, it is delay of game (five-yard penalty). (Note: the end line is not the goal-line, it’s the back of the endzone.)

Blockhead play of the day — Leonhard. Culprit on one of those two burned TOs. You’re right near the goal line and need to come out. Leonhard is supposed to be so heady. Instead of running right out the end zone (and then circling back around to the bench) or running right along the yard stripe to get out of bounds with time running out, Leonhard decides to run just outside the hash marks then turn and start running on an angle upfield, IN BOUNDS, towards the bench!!!! Get out of bounds, you fool! In football, like in life, Jim, the shortest distance between two points is A STRAIGHT LINE!! That TO burned was squarely on JL’s head. – miketaliaferro

Yep, someone wasn’t paying attention in trigonometry class.

What specifically led to Coleman being burned throughout the game. Was he getting beat physically, athletically or was there nothing he could do because Burleson just had a great game? And after evaluating the film, do you think Coleman could be our nickel CB going forward or should Lowery return to the role? – Nick

A little of everything. As noted in BGA, I felt two of the plays were offensive pass interference, but that suggests a lack of physicality. Had those been called, he would have only been responsible for about 4 catches and 50 yards, which is actually acceptable. He gave up a cushion for a couple of quick slants, but other than that, he didn’t look as bad as he did at the end of last year. Lowery, Wilson and Cole could all challenge for reps. At least they have options.

The running game has been subpar the last few weeks. What do you think is chiefly responsible for this? Everyone is saying that teams are just putting eight or nine men in the box, but I think teams did that early in the year as well and it didn’t stop the running game then. – MEL31602

Yes, since the Denver game, teams have been stacking the box and daring Sanchez to throw into the teeth of their zone packages. Last year’s running game was very boom or bust, especially at the start of the year, where they were routinely getting stuffed in the first half, but kept winning games because Sanchez was good on third downs. I’m hoping that the balance will shift to more Shonn Greene later on in the season, because that will be better suited towards wearing down the defense and getting some big plays later on in games. The cohesiveness of the line is a factor too, as touched upon higher up.

It seems that the hurry-up allowed Sanchez to find his rhythm late in the game. Is there any evidence that it also stopped the Lions from making substitutions, thereby allowing us more flexibility in our O? – Ben Nevis

Detroit doesn’t make a lot of substitutions, other than rotating their linemen. At one point, two lineman ran over to the sideline to get a breather, but only one replacement made it onto the field, so Corey Williams had to hustle back into position. So, they were able to substitute, but it did have a minor effect. Since the Jets were not substituting either, and kept the same formation, the defense was already aligned correctly to match up with them.

It seems that when opposing Ds stack the box against us to stop the run, the no-huddle might be an effective counter, forcing that D to keep one set of personnel on the field, and allowing us to throw off their game plan—what are your thoughts on this, Bent? – Ben Nevis

That’s fine if they’re driving, but what if they just go three-and-out? I did think that Sanchez seemed comfortable and the offense found a rhythm, so that would be the reason I’d use it at some point.

Before the season began, I said on these threads that the one hole in our D was at safety—that we needed a solid cover safety to replace Rhodes. Given the problems Leonhard has had in coverage and the rather unexceptional season Pool has had thus far, have you seen evidence that safety is a problem for us in terms of coverage? – Ben Nevis

Yes, I suggested the same thing all season and was told that Rhodes was terrible and that I should stop making excuses for him. (Apology accepted!) In a slightly different role with the Cards, Rhodes has made a lot more big plays, but tons of bad errors, too. It seems he was being used in the most efficient way after all. That’s Pool’s role now and he has been – as you say – unexceptional. But that’s fine for this defense. Leonhard has struggled in coverage, but has tackled more often and with much greater consistency too. The safeties are not as good as last year, but they might be better value for money.

Coleman stunk it up big time against the Lions. He seemed unable to get his head around, or to stay with his man. Sometimes he just looked lost out there, as on the TD he gave up. Has Coleman been significantly and consistently better than this in previous games? And if so, any idea why he played so poorly against the Lions? – Ben Nevis

Yes, Coleman had a few good games earlier in the year. Burleson is not a good matchup for him, obviously.

I know there was post-game talk about how the game plan was ‘ground & Pound’ for the first 3 3/4 quarters, but was it? … Does the play breakdown indicate a balance, or a tilt to running in that period? I didn’t keep count, but it still seemed that the Jets lack confidence in their running game. – Mark

They passed 42 times and ran 34 times, but until they went into their no-huddle it was 29 runs and 28 passes.

Every now and then Brodney Pool flashes with a big play but, I haven’t noticed him much, this season. Is he soft or is he just silently doing his job? – Harvlis

He’s pretty much silently doing his job. Maybe he is “soft” but that shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise because he’s been that way his whole career. I still have no idea where that “unnamed GM” that said he was a big hitter was coming from.

Who was the culprit on the 12 men penalties? Rex downplays it, but it seems to happen on a weekly basis. Losing timeouts is going to hurt us if it continues. – johnsec125

The problem is that the goalline package includes several backups. Guys like Ihedigbo and the offensive linemen are coming in and guys that hardly ever leave the field like Bart Scott and Antonio Cromartie are coming out. Someone screwed up, but the coaches must take part of the blame. It’s Leonhard’s job, I believe, to count heads.

WHY can’t this team get to the quaterback? Although Stafford was sacked twice, on most plays he had enough time for a sandwich. – johnsec125

A couple of reasons:-

- Teams are leaving extra guys in to block
- They didn’t send as many blitzes this week
- Quarterbacks are getting rid of the ball quickly
- The defensive linemen don’t win one-on-one matchups

Even so, they have 18 sacks, 25 hits and 78 pressures. Way more than their opponents and pretty much exactly on course to match last year’s numbers (34, 50, 130).

Who’s Gholston? – johnsec125

Maybe I need to update my thoughts on that. He did flash this week and I wonder if that will earn him more reps once they review the film.