BGA: The Final Insult (Jets v Colts)

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 start, I must apologize for the lateness of this article, which was due to illness. Had it been during the season, I might have been able to get the job done, but, alas, the season is over, at least for our Jets. For the Colts, this analysis may or may not shed light on their chances in tomorrow’s big game. Heartwrenching though it was to relive what might have been, I have looked at all the things you wanted me to. Thanks also to those of you who provided suggestions for this column next season.

Onwards…

Offense

What kind of coverage were they using on Braylon and J-CO?

The gameplan for the Colts throughout was essentially for their corners to play several yards off Cotchery and Edwards, essentially surrendering the underneath stuff and allowing an extra safety to stay in the box and also to send some extra pass rushers or run blitzes. Sanchez capitalized on this early with good passes underneath to Cotchery and Edwards for first downs and then threw the long TD to Edwards when the CB bit on a play action fake and obviously had no safety support.

Did sanchez shave directly after the game? Like, did he bring his razor with him in case they lost? I’m pretty sure he was on the podium after the game without his beard…

Apparently so…not that re-watching the game helped me to answer this.

Any evidence to why we tried to run outside/on the corners so much instead of up the gut. [It] seemed the colts were far too fast to keep trying to run outside???

It’s difficult to say, but on runs up the middle the Jets carried five times for minus-4 yards. Maybe that’s why. It did seem like they tried it early (twice on the opening series) and then went away from it.

I’d like to know the ratio between runs to the right and runs to the left side. It seemed like every handoff would see our RB go right, with Faneca pulling to that side for a bulk of them. Not sure if it had to do with scheming against the Colts d-line or scheming for our own o-line.

10 runs went over right tackle and 2 went over left tackle. The announcers did mention that the Jets offensive gameplan involved running the ball when Mathis was in the game and passing when Freeney was out, so perhaps running over the right side was in an effort to overpower Mathis. The Jets apparently had most success (6.3 ypc) running between RG and RT.

How did the offensive line grade out on the running plays? (Were holes open that TJ couldn’t get through or were they not open and/or was the offensive line getting to the second level?)

The Colts were extremely disciplined and their tackling was excellent, especially from the safeties, so I’d like to start by giving credit there. That’s why the Jets were unable to break any really long runs. They were also able to stuff some runs due to apparent poor blocking by the lines, bringing the average down.

Some examples:
– Hunter was driven back by Freeney on a run to the outside, which created the room for Brackett to pursue and make the tackle behind the line.
– Keller completely whiffed on a block at the line, enabling Bethea to stuff a run in the hole.
– Hunter and Richardson both missed blocks on Dwight Freeney on the same play, leading to a tackle in the backfield.
– Mangold was knocked over, leaving the runner nowhere to go and leading to a big loss.
– Mangold was beaten by a defensive tackle shooting the gap and Jones had to break a tackle to get back to the line of scrimmage.

Having said that, there were some examples of good run blocking (and the pass blocking was excellent all day):
– Mangold, Woody and Moore all executed their blocks in synch for a 7 yard gain over the right side.
– The best run of the day saw the Jets set up in a jumbo package with Woody over on the left, creating an unbalanced line and then cross up the Colts by running right behind Mangold, Moore and Hartsock.
– Greene opened up the second half with consecutive 7 yard runs, first behind a pulling Mangold over the right side and then to the outside as Hartsock did a good job sealing the edge.
– Jones had a 12 yard run behind a pulling Faneca, as the line as a whole got a good surge.

Was Thomas Jones as slow getting through the line of scrimmage as he appeared to be or was the Colts’ run defense that good? I saw plenty of runs where Jones’ blockers were more than a yard ahead of him and Greene’s success and Jones’ failure led me to conclude that TJ is not worth his 2010 salary and not an adequate back up for Greene next season.

As noted above, the blocking left a lot to be desired in places and the run defense, with eight in the box a lot of the time, did play well. Jones showed great burst hitting the hole on the 12 yard run mentioned in the above section, which was after Greene left the game. For the mostpart, Jones was falling forward and taking what the defense gave him, and although it certainly seemed he was less dynamic than earlier on in the year, it didn’t look like he left a lot of yards on the field. With Greene out, maybe they should have spelled him by using Brad Smith to run the ball a few times. Jones was knocked back by a big hit from Bethea, but that happened to Greene at least once too.

If they bring him back, I won’t be too concerned, because his numbers dipped at the end of the last two years too, but he returned strong at the beginning of the following season. I hope they are able to cut down his workload and then maybe he can be more effective deep into the season.

I would like to know how many off side penalties the Colts defense should have had.

I did look out for offsides and I didn’t spot anyone jumping early, although let’s just say that Mister Freeney likes to play fast and loose with the neutral zone sometimes. That’s hard to read though, because he might just be leaning further forward than his linemates, or they might be slightly off the line.

The two missed kicks: any problems with the snaps/holds or just plain misses?

The first one was a perfect snap, but the kick was sliced. The snap on the second one was low and inside and the kick was sliced again. I couldn’t tell if Clemens (who did get both balls down cleanly) had time to get the laces pointing in the right direction, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t on the second one.

Mark Sanchez’s interception: I want to know how much of it was it his fault.

The throw was high and did appear to get away from him a little bit, but some of the blame unfortunately has to go to Clowney. He came across the field on a crossing route and looked for the ball too late, slowing down as he did so. This meant he had to jump and stretch out for the ball and ended up deflecting it into the air. Maybe the playcall dictated that the throw should be made to the place where Clowney stopped, that’s impossible to tell, but had he kept running, which he would obviously have done if he located the ball a split second sooner, he would have probably had it.

Can you review the pass to Clowney on 1st and 15 in the 3rd quarter when Clowney caught the ball out of bounds? It seemed like he lost track of where he was on field but it wasn’t conclusive – why was Clowney so far out of bounds on that play?

Interestingly, in contrast to the play mentioned above, Clowney was looking up and watching the ball all the way into his hands and, like you say, didn’t appear to have the spatial awareness to stay in bounds. This wasn’t the same as the Wallace Wright play from last week, where the defender bumped Wright over the sideline. In Clowney’s defense, he did make a clean catch out of bounds, but had he tried to stay inbounds, the pass probably wouldn’t have been catchable anyway, especially with the possibility of a forceout if he jumped to make the catch.

Defense

I would like to know if the colts were set on the 12 men on the field play

It did look like they were set…barely.

On the whole, the officiating seemed better this week, even though the Colts were only penalized once in the first three quarters. There was one possible hold I noticed (Wayne on Revis), one debatable illegal contact flag (Collie seemed to lower his shoulder and run into Coleman) and the obvious missed call on the Sanchez late hit, but you expect the officiating to favor the home team and the margin was certainly closer than last week.

I would like a long look at Coleman and Lowery. It seemed like I was always watching the numbers on the back of their jerseys trying to catch up to Garcon & Collie. Were they really bad or was Peyton making such perfect throws (and the receivers good catches) that it didn’t matter who was playing db for us?

Coleman and Lowery basically played the entire game. Coleman sat out just ten plays, the lowest all season and Lowery sat out just four snaps. He had only played in over 50% of the snaps in one game since the bye week. Obviously, the injury to Donald Strickland (who played, guess what, ten snaps) played a big part in Coleman being used so much and Lito’s injury/loss of faith from the coaching staff/whatever it was led to Lowery being thrust into full action.

Early on, Coleman was used as an extra pass rusher and his blitz led to a sack for David Harris. When Strickland went down, Coleman was mostly matched up against Austin Collie, who did most of the damage against him. Coleman gave up six catches for 84 yards in all and also had another potential first down dropped.

The biggest play he gave up was a perfectly placed touch pass that Manning dropped inches over his outstretched hands for a 46 yard gain. He was beaten by a step, although it looked like he might have deflected the pass away if he either went after it with one arm or timed his jump a bit better. He did lose Collie on an inside route for a first down, but he was playing off him as the Jets were in a soft zone late in the first half. There was also a good timing throw to the back shoulder on the outside, as he gave Collie a little too much of a cushion. As mentioned above, the illegal contact penalty appeared harsh, but he was also beaten on the play and got a little lucky when the pass was overthrown. A rough day for Coleman, no doubt, but when a team’s fifth corner ends up playing the entire game at short notice, a lot of teams would probably face similar issues.

Lowery was victimized even more, as he mainly covered Pierre Garcon and gave up a total of 9 catches for 114 yards. However, he did make some good plays and was actually in decent position for several of the completions against him, although he was beaten cleanly quite a few times too, to be fair:
– He covered Reggie Wayne on the first play of the game and gave him too much of a cushion on an out route for the first down.
– The first big play he gave up wasn’t bad coverage, but Manning hit the receiver in the numbers on an inside route. It should have been a 12 yard gain, but Lowery badly missed the tackle and Garcon hurdled for extra yards.
– He had good coverage on Garcon in the endzone, knocking the ball away from the receiver who had two hands on it.
– He also stayed with Garcon deep on a throw down the sideline that fell incomplete.
– He had fine coverage on yet another inside route, but Manning made a perfect pass and Garcon made a low catch.
– On the next play, he had Garcon one-on-one and was beaten on a quick slant. That’s a tough assignment for any corner, especially with an accurate passer like Manning.
– They went after him again on the following play, this time on a fade route to the endzone, as he was maybe preparing for the inside move again. It was a perfect pass and Lowery didn’t get his head round and locate the ball in time, otherwise he might have been able to get a hand up.
– Later on, he was employed in zone coverage against Dwight Dallas Clark, who dropped one right in front of him and then made a catch underneath with Lowery making the stop to force a third down.
– Again, he had good coverage but was beaten by a perfect throw on a crossing route to Garcon.
– Perhaps the roughest play he had saw Garcon throw him off balance with a quick change of direction to the outside, leading to a big completion downfield.

On the whole, having re-watched the game, I feel a little better about Lowery than I did immediately after. He wasn’t great, but he didn’t fare as badly as I thought on first viewing.

The play of our secondary with Strickland and Bart Scott in and the secondary without them… How much did those 2 loses really affect us?

Here’s where it gets a bit gut wrenching. Those losses definitely affected what the Jets could do defensively. I think the Jets were obviously aware Bart Scott would be limited, so the fact that he couldn’t play much (he was in on just 24 snaps), probably didn’t change their gameplan, because I expect their gameplan had already been changed during the week.

I’m actually going to expand on the question and look at the defense as a whole, not just the secondary. Strickland’s absence appears to have just meant that Drew Coleman played in his place, but Scott’s inability to play at full capacity did force the Jets to do some unusual things:
– James Ihedigbo was in on 37 snaps defensively. His highest number of defensive snaps during the regular season? 11. I don’t believe this was a reward for his improved play over the course of the season (which he does deserve credit for), rather that the Jets obviously felt he was a better option than using a backup linebacker (such as Cummings, Fowler or Westerman).
– Ihedigbo was used in a variety of ways. They still had him coming off the edge, which is his usual role on defense anyway. They also used him in Bart Scott’s role, taking on blockers and attacking the line of scrimmage against the run. I will review his performance in more detail later on.
– Calvin Pace was also used in Bart Scott’s role at times.
– 7 DBs were in the game at a time for much of the second half, although Ihedigbo was essentially employed as a linebacker.
– Scott did play all the way into the fourth quarter, but it seemed clear he was limited and they used him solely as an edge rusher during the fourth quarter, which tells me he couldn’t get from sideline to sideline any more, but still wanted to contribute in any way he could.

Scott’s absence/limitedness was a huge loss for the Jets, that I am sure had a big impact on the running game and the passing game. I will look at the run defense in more depth later on.

When Strickland was in the game, he mainly matched up with Dwight Clark and even smartly broke up a pass. He was hurt making a stop on the big play where Lowery missed a tackle on Garcon. After he left, Coleman became the de facto nickelback. As discussed above, he had a rough day.

I’d like to know how the D-line graded out. We’re all speculating that we need to draft D-line. Do the numbers bear that out?

Maybe they need to keep adding to the defensive line, since Pouha, Ellis and Douglas are all getting up there in age, although I don’t know that whoever they would get would be able to contribute any better than DeVito, Pouha and even Pitoitua seem ready to next season. The fact that the defensive line held up as well as it did without Jenkins was a huge surprise, but does seem to indicate pretty decent depth. If they can get another body (or two) to develop, then that would be smart and based on what they’ve done with the three guys mentioned above, it may not even have to be a high pick. I don’t think they are desperate for an immediate contributor.

Anyway, that was a general comment based on the play of the linemen over the course of the season. In this particular game, the defensive line was okay, but not as outstanding as it has been in the last month or so:
– Nobody on the line played that much. With all the DB’s in the game, the Jets often only had two defensive linemen in (with Thomas or Pace playing at defensive end). As a result, out of a total of 68 plays, Ellis played 40, Devito 20, Douglas 31 and Pouha 30. Green and Pitoitua were inactive.
– Pouha held up well, shedding a block to make one stop and driving back the pocket to get some pressure on Manning.
– There was one play where DeVito was driven back, but he and Pouha stonewalled Manning’s QB sneak on third and goal, essentially saving four points early on.
– Ellis missed a tackle in the backfield after a screen pass on a play in which Jim Leonhard also missed a tackle, leading to a decent gain. Of course, each has a cast on their hand, so couldn’t wrap up.

What type of game did Kerry Rhodes have… I think people are dissapointed with his lack of playmaking sunday but last time we played Indy he was deep all game

It was a different gameplan for Rhodes this time. He was mainly used in deep coverage and giving some help to Revis on Wayne in Week 16, but this time, he was used in a variety of ways. He was mainly in coverage, but sometimes with one-on-one or zone assignments rather than just over the top help. It was a non-descript performance really, as he did his job, but didn’t make any big plays, although he didn’t make many mistakes or miss any opportunities to create turnovers either, because the Colts mostly stayed away from him.

Let’s look at some of the plays he was involved in:
– On the first play, an out pattern to Wayne, he was in coverage support to the inside. He actually closed on Wayne faster than Lowery, who was on his heels, and made the tackle.
– He made a tackle in the flat after a short catch by Clark for five yards. This was the only catch he gave up all day.
– He stretched a run to the outside and made a good tackle at the sideline for no gain.
– Along with Leonhard, he made a saving tackle at the goalline on a first half drive where the Colts had to settle for a field goal.
– He also made a saving tackle after the long completion over the top against Coleman
– He was matched up one-on-one in coverage with Clark on several occasions. On one occasion he stayed with him and Manning looked that way decided to throw the other way and on another occasion, he did throw the pass, but Rhodes was in tight coverage and the pass sailed out of bounds.

What I will say is this – Rhodes has, for most of the season, been used in a role which, in my opinion, not many other safeties in the league could handle. However, in the last couple of games, they have reverted to a more versatile system (perhaps partly by necessity), which has seen more zone coverages, mix n’ match and one-on-one coverage assignments for the safeties. While I have been saying that the Jets should definitely bring back Rhodes (provided his attitude is right), because of what he allows this defense to do, they have shown, at times, that they can be successful doing some other things, things which there are more safeties around that can handle. Credit to Revis, who has proven that he can still play press coverage even without Rhodes giving him support over the top. If Rhodes does leave, I expect to see them do more of this kind of thing, hopefully with more success than they enjoyed on this day. If he stays, though, in the right frame of mind, this should give the defense an added dimension.

Outside of the TD catch, seemed as though we shut down Dallas Clark. Who/what were we doing with him…did that leave Garcon/Collie in more single coverage?

As mentioned above, Rhodes and Strickland both did quite well on him. Revis took him a few times, when he split out as a wide receiver and Scott was covering him early in the game. He seemed to enjoy success against zone coverage and also may have been less involved in the passing game because he sometimes stayed in to block. With Garcon and Collie, at least one of them would have been single covered each time, usually Collie, by the look of it.

As a guess, how often did revis line up on wayne in single coverage?

I’d guess about 80% of the time. There wasn’t a lot of safety support and, although he covered Garcon and Clark during the first series, giving the impression he would move from player to player like in the Chargers game, he was nearly always lined up opposite Wayne. He did play off him from time to time, but was usually in press coverage. They did put him on Garcon a few times in the second half, but not much.

On the TD’s/big plays – were there any real breakdowns in coverage? Peyton seemed to pick apart the middle of the field behind the LB’s

- On the first TD, Collie ran right by Eric Smith and Leonhard could not get over in time. On the play, Rhodes was in between the outside receiver and the slot receiver and was apparently covering the area around the goalline if the outside receiver ran an inside route or Collie ran a quick out. Manning looked over at the outside receiver to freeze Rhodes so that he wasn’t able to bail Smith out and Leonhard, covering the opposite side of the field, was just too far away. The announcers told us that Rex Ryan said (at halftime) this was a communication breakdown in the secondary, which may be Leonhard’s responsibility as the defensive signal caller, but this did seem to be on Smith, who ended up covering thin air while the middle of the field was completely open. Unbelieveably, Manning almost overthrew the receiver, who made a tough leaping grab.
– On the second TD, Lowery was beaten in one-on-one coverage, as described above.
– On the third TD, Rhodes was again in position to cover the outside receiver if he ran an inside route. The receiver ran a post-corner route, so Rhodes initially took a step in that direction, when he initially cut to the inside. Clark ran straight upfield and turned and caught the ball at the goalline. Even without the step in the other direction, which Rhodes has to make, he wouldn’t have been able to prevent Clark from catching the pass, because Clark ran right by Ihedigbo, who – perhaps fooled by the playfake – initially started to attack the line of scrimmage and then backpedalled into no-man’s land for some reason. This time it was David Harris who tried to bail him out but was too far away to get there.
– As for the other big plays, I’ve discussed them in my analysis of the offending DB’s.

I’d like to know what you thought of Ihedigbo. he was playing a lot close to the LOS replacing Bart Scott. Digs has grown on me a bunch this year – I could see him getting more snaps in that hybrid safety / LB role or playing in the 46 look.

I think it’s a little unfair to even attempt to judge Digs’ future based on this game. If he does contribute to the Jets in the future, it will be, like you say, in the hybrid safety/LB role, which he has wrestled away from Eric Smith over the last few weeks and as a situational pass rusher, which he does well (not to mention his solid special teams play). Is he a full-time inside linebacker though? No.

Credit must go to Ihedigbo, who stepped into an unfamiliar role and did his best while playing out of position, but unfortunately, he did make some rudimentary errors, not including the Clark TD mentioned above:
– Playing the Bart Scott role, he missed a tackle badly in the hole, on second and five, giving up a big run.
– He made a hit behind the line on 2nd and 2, but the RB just drove him for the first down.
– He bit on completely the wrong route on a quick slant, when he would have been in position to limit the gain to about 10 yards and the play eventually went for 21 down to the five.
– His awareness in coverage seemed poor, as he let a guy run right by him on a crossing pattern while supposedly playing zone.
– He did have a costly facemask penalty called against him in the second half, which set up the clinching score.

The best thing Ihedigbo did was get a couple of pressures off the edge in his familiar role. That’s probably how he can help the Jets best next season. He could be a liability if they have to rely on him to cover, although this is admittedly a small sample size.

Was there any pressure at all after we went up 17-6 and Manning figured us out?

There probably wasn’t much less pressure than there had been earlier in the game. Although the Jets got two sacks early on, one came on an exotic blitz where the running back made a poor decision and blocked Coleman, leaving Harris free and the other was practically a coverage sack as Manning looked to throw to Wayne, but Revis was all over him so he decided to eat the ball. The rest of the time, Manning mainly slowed the pass rush down by going to max protect or throwing a quick pass, a lot like in the first meeting.

Another problem was the fact that they didn’t get as many third and long situations after that point, which is where they like to send pressure. They were usually sending five, although one or two of them would be delayed blitzes. With the issues in coverage, the quick passing got the Colts into a nice rhythm, so they stuck with that. Also, Bart Scott being unavailable to attack the line was a factor. Finally, the offensive line did a solid job of not losing any one-on-one matchups, although Ihedigbo and Thomas each nearly got to Manning on a couple of occasions.

Why was Indianapolis able to run the ball efficiently against us? Was it the line’s poor play or the linebacker’s poor play? Any individual scapegoats for the poor run defense?

I think the line held up pretty well considering. 7 DB’s being in the game definitely meant the Colts were able to run the ball better, but with Manning and all those weapons, that’s a necessary evil. One big issue was poor tackling. The Jets unofficially had 9 missed tackles, 3 of them by David Harris. One in particular, saw Joseph Addai fake him out of his socks. However, Harris had a much tougher task than usual without Bart Scott being able to take on blockers for him.

To me, Scott’s injury was the primary reason that the Colts were able to run the ball better than other teams have, because even when he was in, he was limited. On one play, Scott was pursuing to the outside, where Dwight Lowery should have had outside contain. Ryan Diem blocked Lowery, who basically tripped Scott over, enabling the runner to get to the outside. If fully fit, I expect Scott would have negotiated that traffic and stopped the run on the edge. On another play, the Jets were lined up in a pass defense and the Colts ran for 17 up the middle. On the play, it was apparent how noticeably slow Scott was to turn and pursue the runner, who was easily able to go past him. This was not happening thoughout the season.

I want to see how Lito Shephard played.

Answer: Not very much. He was only in for 14 plays and gave up two long passes to Garcon. It was the same issue he has had over the last few weeks, a really slow first step, which makes me think he probably is injured. He did make one good play to make a stop on a third down screen, but the runner almost got free on that play too and he only brought him down at the second attempt.

How did Bryan Thomas look, is it time to replace him?

It was a very quiet game for Thomas, although he did get close to Manning a couple of times. He is not really an impact player and had low sack numbers during the year. However, he is dependable and the only reason to release him would be financially oriented, which is obviously a moot point with an uncapped year. To give him his due, he was second on the team with 21 pressures and unofficially only missed two tackles all season.

I would like to know how bad Eric Smith did in the game.

Smith was limited to 13 plays and barely played at all in the second half, which adds weight to the theory that the communication breakdown on Collie’s TD was his fault. The only time I did see him in the second half, he completely missed the jam at the line against Dallas Clark, who ran a crossing route for an easy first down with Smith trailing a few steps behind. Like Ihedigbo, Smith can contribute for this team in a few areas, but pass coverage is not really one of them. The Jets might be best served by not tendering the RFA Smith and then, if he gets signed by another team he will count as a UFA loss that they can set off against a UFA acquisition.

Tell me what happened when rex had 12 men on defense on that penalty at the end of the 1st half. Nobody seems 2 mention it but that was the turning point and it was 4TH DOWN. Then they scored.

I’m not sure who was at fault, but it was Bart Scott that failed to get off the field in time. Even there you could see how he seemed to be laboring to get over there. Any other player might have made it off. Bear in mind that Scott usually plays every snap, so he has not been used to substituting out over the course of the season and may have missed a signal.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do BGA again next year for EVERY game, including preseason, but I can’t make any promises.