Open For Business?
Posted on September 20, 2012
Since Sunday I’ve read lots of articles and comments on Twitter suggesting that the New York Jets’ receiving corps were partially responsible for the 27-10 defeat in Pittsburgh. Well, I’ve never really seen it as being my job to try and convince anybody that they’re right or wrong, so as per usual, let’s just allow the evidence to speak for itself.
Based largely on the assumption that most people were quite happy with how the Jets performed during the first-half of the match, we’ll pick things up on the opening drive of the pivotal third quarter and get a different perspective on a play that we previously looked at in my article concerning the offensive line.
Mark Sanchez has completed two short passes to TEs Jeff Cumberland and Konrad Reuland on this drive, but is now facing a 3rd and 16 on his own 25. The Jets line up in a Trips Bunch formation with Santonio Holmes split wide to the right. Stephen Hill is circled in red, and Pittsburgh CB Keenan Lewis is in blue (Picture 1, below). For reasons that I explained in my previous analysis of Hill
, Lewis is playing in soft coverage (ie he’s giving himself a cushion of about 9 yards).
When we wind the tape on (Picture 2, below) we see that Hill has completed his route, has roughly 5 yards of separation from Lewis, and is ready to make the catch. But by this stage of events the play is already over and Sanchez has gone down (yellow circle) thanks to Austin Howard’s inability to handle Lamarr Woodley’s pass rush.
Four minutes and 52 seconds later (Picture 3) Sanchez gets his next opportunity to pass. This time he’s in a 2nd and 16 sized hole following a loss of yardage on a run by Shonn Greene. The Jets come out in a Singleback Ace Pair set with Holmes split right and Hill (red) to the left. Again, Lewis (blue) is in loose coverage against the rookie wideout.
Roll the film forward a few frames (Picture 4) and we find that history has almost repeated itself. Hill has completed his hitch route, has 4-5 yards separation from his defender, and is ready to receive the ball. But Sanchez is prevented from being able to deliver it as he’s busy trying to evade pressure from Woodley and Lawrence Timmons. Although he manages to get the throw off as he’s taken to the turf, the ball wobbles out and lands well short of his intended receiver.
The final play that we’ll consider is a 2nd and 5 from the Jets’ 24-yard line with 2:28 remaining in the third (Picture 5). The offense takes the field in Shotgun Empty with Jason Smith in as a jumbo TE and Reuland flexed to his left. Holmes is wide right (yellow) and Hill (red) is once again out on the left. Picking up the coverage on Holmes is Ike Taylor (purple) while Lewis (blue) is again playing soft against Hill.
As the play develops (Picture 6) the veteran Taylor (purple) gets tight on Holmes at the moment he breaks his route. While on the other side the inexperienced Lewis (red) has – at the risk of being boring – allowed Hill to get wide open yet again. But because Sanchez is keyed on Holmes he doesn’t even look to the Georgia Tech man, and so instead he forces the ball to Holmes and ends up with another incompletion.
So there we have it; the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth of what actually happened on three key passing plays during the critical third quarter. What do you reckon – were the receivers to blame? And based on this evidence, am I right to think I’m probably not alone in feeling that we might see more of Hill when the Jets travel down to Miami this weekend? If the mood takes you, feel free to let me know your opinion via Twitter.