Postseason BGA Extra: Jets at Steelers

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).

It’s time to take a final look back at the AFC Title Game against the Steelers. 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 would like to know about the penalties that weren’t called on Pittsburgh. – Klecko71

Let’s run down some of the more controversial calls:

- James Harrison late hit on Sanchez. No question…that should have been a fifteen yarder.
– James Farrior helmet-to-helmet on Greene. Not a penalty, because Greene is not a “defenseless receiver”…they got that right.
– Eric Smith late hit. Yes, he did slow up, but he still lowered the shoulder and made contact at around the head and neck area. No question…that was a penalty and they got the call right.
– Two coverage penalties on Cromartie. Both appeared to be correct.
– Two coverage penalties on the Steelers. Again, both appeared to be correct.
– Keller’s drop in the endzone – did Clark make contact before the ball? Barely, so they probably were correct not to flag that one.
– False starts – Braylon did flinch, but as the ball was snapped. Ferguson didn’t move a muscle. Both were wrong IMO.
– Holding. Pittsburgh weren’t called for a single hold in this game. I noticed one on Harris (8 yard gain), one on Tevaseu (11 yard gain), one on Scott (7 yard gain), one on DeVito (4 yard scramble), and one on Coleman (5 yard scramble on 3rd and 5) that I thought should have been called. Pittsburgh’s linemen combined for 49 penalties in 18 cames this season, so they average about three per game.

On the whole, I do think the Jets got the rough end of the officiating, but I guess that’s because Pittsburgh earned the homefield advantage and the Jets didn’t.

What about the bad spotting of the ball…3rd play of the game and from what i remember it was a 3rd an 6 and it looked like we stopped them by at least 2 feet…bad calls…bad ball placement…that whole 1st half worked against us from the word GO. – dakar

Yes, and the spotting of the ball. The Jets seemed to lose half a yard each time and the Steeler gained half a yard (at least), just like in the last meeting. Again, that falls under the same category as the penalties.

So I hate to ask but… who was it and how many times did they each miss the tackles? – juunit

Okay, I have three answers for you…pick your favorite:

First of all, this comes from Rich Cimini (hat tip: WOJF) – Here’s an unofficial breakdown of the players that missed tackles and the amount of extra yards that resulted:
LB Bart Scott — 4 for 22 yards (including Mendenhall’s 1-yard TD run)
NT Sione Pouha — 3 for 20 yards
LB David Harris — 1 for 33 yards
S Brodney Pool — 1 for 17 yards (on a pass play)
DT Trevor Pryce — 1 for 6 yards.
S Eric Smith — 1 for 7 yards
Totals: 11 for 105 yards

This was PFF’s breakdown:

Pouha 2, Ellis, Pace, Harris, Scott, Pool, Smith, Scott. Total: 9.

And now for the correct my breakdown:

Pryce 2 (16 yards)
Pouha 2 (13 yards)
Pace 1 (2 yards)
Mauga 1 (1 yard, TD)
Pool 1 (17 yards)
Ellis 1 (2 yards)
Scott 2 (3 yards)
Harris 1 (33 yards)
Smith 1 (2 yards)
Revis 1 (2 yards)
Coleman 1 (in pocket – pass intercepted)
Total – 14 (81 yards)

Notes:
– I define a missed tackle as any tackle where the tackler has the defender lined up and a shot at making the tackle, but either has hold of him and the tackle is broken, or they miss completely.
– Those 14 missed tackles came on 11 plays, because there was one play when three different guys missed a tackle and one where two did. I divided up the yards gained on the play between the players based on where they missed their tackle.
– The biggest difference between my/PFF’s numbers and those of Cimini, who seems to have overlooked the less obvious ones was in his review was the fact that he credited Bart Scott with four. He also said this about Scott:

Bart (Can’t Wait) Scott played one of his worst games as a Jet. Not only did he miss four tackles, but he took a false step on Ben Roethlisberger’s next-to-last completion — the 14-yarder to Heath Miller. Scott came free on a blitz, but bit inside on the play fake, allowing Roethlisberger to break outside to his right. It bought Big Ben an extra second to complete the throw.

Clearly that contradicts what I wrote in BGA and also PFF’s analysis, where they rated him at +2.6, including +2.7 against the run, both of which were 2nd best on the team and a better overall grade than every Pittsburgh linebacker apart from Lamar Woodley. It certainly wasn’t his best game as a Jet, but it was far from his worst – grading out as his 7th best game of the season. It seems Cimini’s analysis doesn’t account for all the positive plays that he made, many of which you can’t appreciate without looking in detail at every snap.

In terms of the four missed tackles that Cimini counted, let’s address those plays:

- Scott beat his man on the outside, forcing the runner back to the inside. He did get a hand on him, so I assume Cimini has counted this as a missed tackle. However, it seems like he carried out his assignment there. The play would have gone for no gain, but Trevor Pryce missed a tackle at the line, which Cimini seems to have missed. So, if Scott does get a missed tackle there – and if we were counting based on such harsh criteria, there would have been way more than 11 – Pryce should get one too and be credited with the eight yards.
– Scott shed a block and almost made a tackle in the backfield, but the runner escaped. However, he didn’t make any additional yardage (which is why PFF apparently didn’t count this one) and lost two overall. Again, it seems harsh to count this as a negative play against Bart, because he – along with Shaun Ellis – blew up the play.
– On Mendenhall’s touchdown, Scott met the runner on the edge and he was able to break the plane with his second effort. Cimini counts this as a missed tackle, but Scott never let go of him. This was really just yards after contact and again there would be way more missed tackles in total if we counted one every time a runner moved the pile an extra yard. Cimini is also missing the fact that Josh Mauga had him wrapped up and Mendenhall actually did break that tackle as he drove for the line. Scott held the runner up long enough that a defensive back should have been able to assist him, but both Brodney Pool and James Ihedigbo allowed themselves to get driven back by blockers and got there a split-second too late.
– The last one went for a 7 yard gain, as both Ellis and Scott missed tackles on the play. This was the one where Doug Legursky blatantly held him. I don’t know if many linebackers could have secured that tackle while being dragged back by the waist with a handful of jersey.

I assume they were the four plays he counted as missed tackles, unless he found a phantom one, but I stand by my assertion that Scott was solid on closer inspection – even in the first half – and that any mistakes he did make were nothing like as costly as those made by some of his teammates.

Is it me or do you think Calvin Pace has been underwhelming the last two seasons? Maybe I’m being too harsh but it seems to me that he has not been the impact player we were hoping for. - BobP

Pace was kind of inconsistent this year and nowhere near as productive as a pass rusher, even though his sack numbers were similar. He had six pressures all year – and 35 last year! However, much of that was down to the fact that he was often used as a DE in just a three or even two man rush, as the Jets employed more guys in coverage this year.

He grades out pretty good against the run, but had a poor finish to the year in that area and had particularly rough games against Cleveland and this week. Last year, he made a really slow start after missing the first four games and this year, although he started faster, I wonder if the foot injury continued to plague him through the year, because I noticed him looking tired and not playing to the whistle and foot/toe injuries can drain your energy, even if they don’t slow you down.

Due to his contract situation, I think the Jets will retain him for one more year and hope that his production improves if he gets through camp healthy and if they line another good pass rusher up across from him. Overall, he has been a slight disappointment, but not a complete bust.

I am wondering where the Devito to NG talk is coming from. He is developing into a solid DE why are people talking about NG. I cant remember seeing him line up at NG very often this year. I can remember Ellis, Gholston, Pryce, Tevaseu and of course Pouha at NG at various points – but not Devito. Am I missing something? - Brian311

After the first game of the season, I had spoken to an analyst from PFF that happens to be a Ravens fan and was familiar with how Rex develops his schemes. He predicted that the Jets might eventually look to use DeVito as a nose tackle, because he felt DeVito’s skillset and build were similar to that of Kelly Gregg.

Sure enough, the Jets tried him out as a more or less full-time nose tackle in the final game of the regular season against the Bills and he had a great game. They then continued to use him in that role at times throughout the postseason (usually with Trevor Pryce and/or Shaun Ellis rushing from the DE position, but Kris Jenkins or Ropati Pitoitua would look good in the same role). The results were again encouraging, so I do expect to see more of that this season.

They didn’t do it as much on Sunday, but there was a heavier front being employed, with both Pouha and DeVito playing over 75% of the snaps.

The 3 LT runs netting 4 yards and costing 1:23 during the Jets last drive will drive me nuts until Schotty is fired. There was no reason to run, the Jets had to hurry up and, after the first no gain, why keep going to the well? Presumably, Schotty didn’t run 4 times at the goal line because of the Steelers stout run defense, so why test it when you’re trying to conserve time and time outs? I can throw out all the other mistakes because Keller and Sanchez should’ve had a TD on the goal line…that’s lack of execution. Running LT 3 times up the middle against the NFL’s best run defense in the hurry up? That’s just idiotic play-calling. Did anyone really expect LT to pop a quick hitter for 10 yards? – Sackdance99

Actually, I believe they were trying to score a touchdown or at least get big chunks of yardage on these plays – well, two of them at least – because they ran the “Blast” play, which historically has been the one which can break the runner out into the second level. It failed both times because there was no surge from the right side of the line. The other run failed because Robert Turner got owned by Casey Hampton and Tomlinson tripped over him. I do agree that they perhaps shouldn’t have gone back to this play after the lack of success the first time.

You wrote “…the Steelers had loaded guys into the middle and Dustin Keller got open easily. The pass was a little off target and Keller couldn’t make a fingertip grab with a defender draped all over him.” This seems to imply that Sanchez was late finding Keller, because if he got open easily, there shouldn’t have been a defender draped all over him. Or did the defender make a great play? – The NYC Parking Expert

Well, he was open, but with the defender on his back. Yes, the timing was slightly off and the pass was thrown about six inches too far ahead of the receiver, but that was a makeable throw.

You wrote: “The gameplanning and play calling has not been the problem this year and the Jets simply haven’t executed well enough this year to be the elite offense many Jets fans seem to expect them to be.” … That seems to be a true statement but I wonder if Shotty does not have a lot to do with their execution problems. If the execution is consistently off (which it was for games at a time), this implies to me that something about either the preparation, gameplan or timing/order of the plays called is causing them to lose focus. – The NYC Parking Expert

I don’t know about that. Whenever the execution lets them down, it’s a play that would have worked if the execution was better, so the play call was good. It’s hard to establish rhythm when you call a good play but it fails anyway and lands you in obvious passing situations. Schottenheimer does have something to do with the execution problems, because it’s part of his job to get his team ready to execute, but the position coaches and the head coach are also a part of that too and it’s not possible for me to apportion that blame accurately from watching the film.

You wrote “Credit Edwards with an excellent block on the WR screen to Cotchery. He has the ability to do that more often, but has been inconsistent as a blocker all year.” Funny that Rex said a week or so ago that he thought Braylon was one of the best blocking WRs in the game, up there (but close behind) Hines Ward. Maybe he was trying to motivate Edwards? – The NYC Parking Expert

As I wrote a few weeks ago, Edwards is capable of being a good blocker and has all the tools, including great size. However, he grades out (per PFF) as one of the worst blockers in the league (90th out of 110, last time I looked). Although he is a good downfield blocker – which I view as a routine play – when called upon to make key in-line blocks or from the slot, he has a poor record when you compare bad blocks and good blocks. Of course, he also had a ton of penalties. The fact the Jets do give him those kinds of blocking assignments speaks to his ability, but on a play by play basis, he’s not graded out well as a blocker this year. He is certainly capable of doing so, though, as the afore-mentioned play shows.

You wrote “This looks to be a disappointing end to the Mike Westhoff era.” Has he said he’s done? I heard them say on the radio that they thought he had another year on his contract. – The NYC Parking Expert

I gather he has alluded to the fact that he might stick around for another year. However, he has previously stated that he’s gone if Brad Smith is and also the looming sceptre of the lockout has to be considered. I’d welcome him back, but it was a disappointing end to the year.

Did you notice on the Roethlisberger run for a score who screwed up? I did not want to re-watch but it looks as if two linebackers or a LB and safety ran into one another and Im assuming one was the Ben spy. - Jason

I answered this in BGA:

Scott would have been keying Roethlisberger, but Darrelle Revis’ man went in motion and as he followed him across the field, the pair collided and fell to the floor. This left Bryan Thomas in an impossible two-on-one situation.

On the 3rd down failed slant play, does Brandon Moore react / grab sanchez arm or facemask after the play? As if to say “what was that?” … A friend of mine’s brother knows someone in the jets video department….said that the 3rd down slant was supposed to be a fake throw and delayed handoff…which would EXPLAIN why turner was in the passing stance…b/c he was supposed to sell pass… – Klecko71

Moore appeared to say something to Sanchez after the play, but there’s no way of knowing what he was saying. If he did fake the throw then he could have scored easily, similar to the QB draw play against the Browns, but Tomlinson’s actions on the play didn’t suggest he was expecting a handoff.

One minor point…I thought that Turner ran onto the field with the defense on a goal line play, but was subbed for before the play went off. I don’t recall seeing this previously. Did he play any defensive snaps this year? – Spindoctor

Yes, he’s been on the goalline defense all year. Wayne Hunter was too, until Woody got hurt and he became indispensable.

On the failed 4th down run, was hoping you could clarify something … One report (the tipping the play report) indicated LT was lined up 7 yards deep, resulting in an initial huge hole to close before he could get there. It insinuated he would have scored if he lined up at the usual 5 yard deep spot … Cimini claimed this is the “blast” play that the Jets love to use on the goal line, except usually with Greene, I think … Does Greene or LT usually run this play? … If indeed it is the same play does the runner usually line up that deep? … I suspect that LT usually does not run this play, and screwed up by lining up too deep. – WOJF

I’m not sure it was a “Blast” play. Matt Slauson would usually pull to the right side, but on this play he just pulled behind Mangold and tried to get a surge up the middle. Also, the runner wouldn’t typically plow over the right side, and instead would look to cut back. However, it was a tight formation, so perhaps they executed it slightly different. Anyway, let’s say it was a “Blast” play for the purposes of answering your questions. I’d say – based on gut feel – that Tomlinson ran that play more than Greene over the course of the season. Also, the runner does line up that far back, because you need to wait for the blocks to develop and you need to give the Fullback room to hit his block. As for the “huge” hole, it was filled by two linebackers, who simply timed their explosion into the hole to arrive just before Tomlinson did. If Tomlinson lines up closer, that wouldn’t have prevented them from still timing their hits in the same manner and would have also given Tomlinson less room to select his lane.

Your explanation for the LT overreliance makes sense, but at the time I thought Greene got dinged during the game (first half) and LT therefore got more reps. Can’t remember the play, but remember Greene walking very gingerly to the sidelines. – WOJF

I did mention that Greene hurt himself on the 23 yard run as he was knocked out of bounds on the first drive of the second half. I didn’t see if he was hurt earlier on, but if he was, that may well have been a factor.

Didn’t see any mention of Sanchez wiping a booger on Brunell’s coat. What was that all about? – TB

Perfect timing, good placement, almost hit him right between the numbers. The kid’s come a long way.

That’s it for this week. Thanks again for your questions and comments and I’ll be back next week to wrap up the season.