The Fifth Down - The New York Times N.F.L. Blog
April 14, 2011
2010 Jets: What the Film Revealed
By ANDY BENOIT
Jets fans may not want to hear this, but they should enjoy Brian Schottenheimer while he’s around; the man won’t be an offensive coordinator for long. The Jets were one of the most schematically balanced, well-prepared offenses in football last season. Their slump around the holidays was largely a product of Mark Sanchez falling out of his comfort zone. The subtle decline of the rushing attack was also a factor.
But those hiccups must not distract from the bigger picture. The Jets were able to sustain long drives despite the fact that Sanchez was still a work in progress. Sanchez read coverages better in 2010 but was still too disrupted by the pass rush.
A decent one-two punch at running back (only decent because LaDainian Tomlinson slowed a little as the season progressed and bruiser Shonn Greene always left you wanting a little more) and a deep receiving corps certainly helped, but what really carried the Jets was the offensive line. Because center Nick Mangold could dominate weaker nose tackles and single-handedly fight the elite ones to a stalemate, the rest of the front five fully functioned as one unit. In that sense, this was the best offensive line in football.
This wasn’t the blitzing unit you’d expect. Rex Ryan often kept things simple and relied on outstanding press coverage from his corners and read-and-react proficiency from his safeties and linebackers. The statistics say this more docile approach worked, but the film showed that this D didn’t generate enough game-changing plays (turnovers, sacks and big hits). Big plays can be hard to come by when you don’t have a dominant pass rusher.
The loss of Jim Leonhard late in the year disrupted the sub-packages. Leonhard had been a great roving run defender and versatile slot corner. Without him, offenses were more eager to spread the field and attack. As far as the run defense goes, inside linebackers Bart Scott and David Harris lived up to the lofty standards they’ve set over the years, but not by much. Nose tackle Sione Pouha was a clogger but not much more.
Antonio Cromartie is not worth re-signing
Cromartie critics (including yours truly) carp about his shoddy tackling and poor technique in zone coverage. But last season the Jets adjusted their scheme by playing more man coverage, where Cromartie, a lanky 6-foot-2 wonder-athlete, thrives. He proved capable of shadowing some of the best deep threats in the game.
If the Jets want to find a more coachable, versatile corner to play opposite the near-perfect Darrelle Revis, fine. But if they can sign Cromartie to a reasonable contract, they’ll have by far the best man-defending cornerback tandem in football.
Left guard Matt Slauson was supposed to be the weak spot up front. He wasn’t. The Jets’ offensive line didn’t have a weak spot. Slauson struggled a bit early in the season (penalties, tunnel vision against moving targets, mediocre lateral agility in pass protection) but improved consistently over time. His mobility in the run game took a noticeable leap, muting the loss of Alan Faneca.
Andy Benoit is the founder of NFLTouchdown.com and a writer for the CBSSports.com Eye on Football blog