Open For Business? If the Jets receivers were at fault in Sunday's loss
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). Picture 1
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. Picture 2
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. Picture 3
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. Picture 4
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. Picture 5
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. Picture 6
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.
Make Up Your Own Mind: How the offensive line performed in pass protection
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Make Up Your Own Mind
Posted on September 19, 2012
In the past few days I’ve noticed that several columnists have tried to convince me that they know why the New York Jets offense misfired so badly when it went up against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Well here’s a slightly different approach; all I want you to do is see with your own eyes how the offensive line performed in pass protection. Then, perhaps, you can make your own mind up as to why Mark Sanchez went through a phase of completing just 6 of 22 passes.
So without further ado, let’s get stuck in. Picture 1 shows the first pass of the day; a short completion to Santonio Holmes. Circled (in red) is RT Austin Howard. Here he is going one-on-one against Steelers LE Ziggy Hood and, as we can see, his block is solid as Sanchez (blue) releases the ball from a nice, clean pocket. Picture 1
Sanchez (blue) is about to fire a 45-yard completion to Jeremy Kerley in Picture 2 (below). This time around Howard’s block on Hood (red) is so sound that even though help’s available in the form of RG Brandon Moore (yellow), it’s not required. Again Sanchez has a completely clean pocket, and he capitalises. Picture 2
So far, so good then. After seeing off Mario Williams against the Bills last week, Austin Howard must by this stage be thinking that there’s nothing to playing at right tackle in the NFL.
Hmm. Let’s wind things on to the start of the second-half where in Picture 3 (below) the Jets find themselves facing a 3rd and 16 from their own 25 yard line with 11:15 to go in the quarter. The Steelers attempt to create confusion by coming out with Hood as their only one down lineman in what transpires as being a zone blitz. Linebackers Timmons (94) and Brandon Johnson (91) peel back into coverage, while Hood, Woodley (56, wide left), Keisel (99) and Chris Carter (54, wide right) all set off in pursuit of Sanchez. Picture 3
Looking from right-to-left in Picture 4 (below) LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson takes care of Carter, LG Matt Slauson handles Keisel, RG Moore deals with Hood, and Howard (circled in red) gets beaten all ends up by Woodley’s speed and, to a lesser extent, strength. Picture 4
The answer to this problem is Bilal Powell (circled in yellow, above). He steps up to help out his struggling lineman, Sanchez makes the completion, and the Jets win. Except we all know that it didn’t turn out that way. Instead of making even so much as a chip block (basically bumping the defender during a pass route) the sophomore RB (still yellow in Picture 5 – below) blithely waltzes past the LOS before turning to see his QB go down beneath 265 pounds of Woodley. Picture 5
That, basically, was the beginning of the end for Sanchez and his crew. You don’t have to be a defensive mastermind like Steelers coach Dick LeBeau in order to figure out what happened from this point forwards: Woodley began isolating against Howard and then set about ruining his day (as I’m sure you’ve probably already either imagined or recalled).
Another blocking disaster occurred on the Jets’ next possession and this is illustrated in Picture 6 (yup, below), only this time the offensive line all blocked down with the result that Woodley was left isolated not on Howard, but on RB Shonn Greene. Worryingly, Sanchez will have known the protection scheme and realised that that Greene would be left to deal with Woodley, but decided to carry on regardless. Picture 6
The outcome of this lunacy has been preserved in Picture 7 (below): Greene fell over, Woodley almost stripped the ball, and Sanchez somehow managed to escape with his life and an incompletion. Picture 7
Sad to say, I could fill much more cyberspace with details of comedic blocks and blocking schemes, but instead I shall assume that you’ve already seen enough. It would be easy to heap blame on Sanchez for completing a woeful 10 out of 27 passes (after going 4 for 5 on the opening two drives) but maybe it would be better to pause and wonder if maybe all the incompletions were down to him desperately trying to avoid being buried under any more Woodley.
(For what it’s worth, Sanchez went down just once during the whole game despite being hurried – according to Pro Football Focus – on seven occasions, four of which were courtesy of the Woodley/Howard mismatch.)
And there we’ll end this sorry tale of a football with abandonment issues except, that is, to keep my promise that unlike other bloggers/columnists, I won’t tell you that I know what went wrong with the Jets offense when the wheels fell off. Nope, instead I’ll ask you a question…
Do you think that any of this might have been a problem?