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Thread: Conor Orr: For Jets, passing game a precision exercise hard to master this season

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    Conor Orr: For Jets, passing game a precision exercise hard to master this season

    The coach drew up a two by two “all go,” a basic staple of the NFL playbook where two wide receivers are split out to the left, a tight end is on the right and another wide receiver is split out wide right, a few yards from the tight end.

    To Jets wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal, this is one of the easy ones. It is true to the title, where every receiver just runs a straight line, or a “go.”

    But the finer points show why completing a pass, any pass, is far more difficult than playing catch.

    The design begins to resemble a carpenter’s blueprint. Next to the “F” wide receiver, or slot, there is a set of brackets and a {-4}. Next to the “X” receiver outside of the slot is an {M}, the same for the “Z” receiver split out on the right.

    These are exact distances, which can never change during the course of the play. The -4 mark next to the “F” means exactly 4 yards inside the yardage number displayed on the field. The M stands for “Max,” or “Maximum Distance.” Those wideouts must stay 6 yards outside the yardage numbers on their routes.

    Get knocked off route by one yard and the play is compromised. Veer off the path by more than one yard and the receivers bunch together, allowing one cornerback to cover two people. Look for the ball before the target landmark and the pass sails long.

    “And then if they put a defender right here, what do you do?” said Jets wide receiver Jordan White, pointing at the basic play Lal had drawn up.

    Completing a pass in the NFL is like solving a geometric proof while base jumping: In order for everything to go right; the timing, the angles, the consistency, the telepathy and the luck must all be aligned in a split second of practiced perfection.

    Although Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and his league-basement 52 percent completion rate are often blamed for the passing game’s woes, the difficulty goes deeper. Add in a receiving corps without its biggest threat (Santonio Holmes), a cycle of free agents that have been plugged in, removed and re-added to the starting lineup during the year (Patrick Turner, Jason Hill, Clyde Gates), a rookie still learning the system (Stephen Hill), a first-year coordinator (Tony Sparano), and Lal, also in his first year, you have a Jets team ranked 27th in the NFL in total pass yardage (195.7), one looking to move the ball more efficiently.

    As the currently constructed roster continues to grow together, facing another test this afternoon against the Rams in St. Louis, they hope that this unstable exercise will become an exact science, one that can buoy a run game and help push the offense forward.

    “It’s a process of learning,” Sanchez said. “Playing with these guys and learning how they run routes and things like that so we’re all trying to improve and that’s all we can do right now is dig in, trust the guy next to you and play for each other and that’s what we’re doing. We know it can get better.”

    CINEMATIC SEQUENCE
    There is no better feeling in a Monday film session then when they see it go right — when the distance and the timing and the placement all come together to form a highlight Lal will use in his reel of perfect routes.

    Take Jeremy Kerley’s second-and-6 seam catch on the opening drive against New England back in Week 6. It went for a gain of 24.

    On that play, Kerley is the “F”, exactly four yards from the numbers. Lal calls him the “bender” on this play because his straight “go” route can be altered inside if the defense is playing a Cover 2.

    He has an exact landmark 12 yards downfield, Lal said, where he needs to make his split-second decision on whether to keep going straight or bend. If Kerley misses his landmark by one yard either way the play blows up. Lal guessed that if Kerley “bent” at the 8-yard mark instead of the 12-yard mark, it would have been intercepted.

    “Right at 12 yards where he’s supposed to, he sticks at his landmark and the ball hits him right between his cornerback and the safety,” Lal said. “That catch point was clinic. Perfect.”

    Plays break down because press coverage prevents receivers from get re-aligned. They break down because a receiver has a built-in option to run the assigned route or take a secondary one and the quarterback reads him wrong.

    Sometimes, plays break down and they have the illusion of success.

    On Sanchez’s goal line interception last week against Seattle, the broadcast shows Hill wide open, flailing his arms and calling for the ball five seconds after the snap in the back of the end zone.

    Sanchez ended up forcing a pass to Dustin Keller and it was picked off by the Seahawks.

    Hill, though, was not really open, according to Lal. He is not a part of Sanchez’s progression and therefore not on the mechanical series of destinations the ball can go. His job was merely to draw a safety away from the right side of the field.

    “It’s so intricate,” wide receiver Chaz Schilens said of the moment the ball is in the air. “There’s a lot of stuff that goes into it and sometimes it’s not always right.”

    The Jets have been trying to solve this puzzle all season without the universal solvent necessary to be an optimum passing team: continuity.

    With preseason injuries, some coaches feared privately that there wouldn’t be enough of a relationship between Sanchez and the wideouts to perform at a high level.

    The ability to trust, and expect that two people are thinking the same thing has been manufactured on the fly with late night practices and extra meetings. Some receivers estimated there are 100 plays ready to go on Sundays, and each one is worked on just five or six times during practice, roughly.

    Tight ends notwithstanding, there will not be a pair of wide Jets receivers today who have played more than nine games together, and so far this season there were just three games where Sanchez has completed 60 percent of his passes or better. In five games, he has hit on less than 50.

    The hope is that the core will stabilize over the remaining eight games. Lal, who describes himself as sometimes “over the top” in his criticism of the receivers’ routes, wants to get them to the point where every route is closer to Kerley’s in New England.

    “It’s angles and geometry,“ he said. ”On any given play you might have a catch point 18 yards on the inside edge of the numbers, and if you don’t have the right angle to get there, I mean, it’s geometry when you think about it.”

    GRADING ON A CURVE
    It takes Lal almost 15 minutes per passing play to determine how to grade the wide receiver. He grades first on whether the receiver ran the right route and again on the technique called for on the specified play.

    For example: If there is a hook route, did the wide receiver “peak” on his route? Did he round it off instead of keeping the cornerback’s eyes until the moment he snaps back toward the quarterback and the ball?

    If he did, it probably effected the play negatively, sparking one of the million things that could go wrong.

    “You have to stay on course,” Kerley said. “You can’t get cluttered because that’s when bad things happen; the timing and the placement. When we’re not in the right spot he can’t put the ball there.”

    On Thursday, Lal emerged from an hour-long meeting that was almost entirely devoted to watching routes run in slow motion. He called it a continual process and views it as the core responsibility of a receiver coach.

    The favorite saying inside the room is almost militant, but in a way simplifies the entire equation, breaking down the straight lines, the angles and the speed.

    Be where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there.

    Lal understands that, especially with a young group, it works against every instinct a receiver has to simply out-jump, out-run and out-grab the person guarding them.

    He knows how hard it can be to relax when all they want is to finally catch a pass; to finally make sense of everything.

    “It’s fighting human nature,” Lal said. “But you can’t play this game in a hurry.”

    http://www.nj.com/jets/index.ssf/201...l#incart_river

  2. #2
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    "Some receivers estimated there are 100 plays ready to go on Sundays, and each one is worked on just five or six times during practice, roughly."


    Maybe the coaches should cut the plays down from 100 to 50 or 60 or gamedays...and start practicing those 50/60 more..

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by C Mart View Post
    "Some receivers estimated there are 100 plays ready to go on Sundays, and each one is worked on just five or six times during practice, roughly."


    Maybe the coaches should cut the plays down from 100 to 50 or 60 or gamedays...and start practicing those 50/60 more..
    Very interesting.....

    I agree with your assessment, CMART.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by C Mart View Post
    The coach drew up a two by two “all go,” a basic staple of the NFL playbook where two wide receivers are split out to the left, a tight end is on the right and another wide receiver is split out wide right, a few yards from the tight end.

    To Jets wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal, this is one of the easy ones. It is true to the title, where every receiver just runs a straight line, or a “go.”

    But the finer points show why completing a pass, any pass, is far more difficult than playing catch.

    The design begins to resemble a carpenter’s blueprint. Next to the “F” wide receiver, or slot, there is a set of brackets and a {-4}. Next to the “X” receiver outside of the slot is an {M}, the same for the “Z” receiver split out on the right.

    These are exact distances, which can never change during the course of the play. The -4 mark next to the “F” means exactly 4 yards inside the yardage number displayed on the field. The M stands for “Max,” or “Maximum Distance.” Those wideouts must stay 6 yards outside the yardage numbers on their routes.

    Get knocked off route by one yard and the play is compromised. Veer off the path by more than one yard and the receivers bunch together, allowing one cornerback to cover two people. Look for the ball before the target landmark and the pass sails long.

    “And then if they put a defender right here, what do you do?” said Jets wide receiver Jordan White, pointing at the basic play Lal had drawn up.

    Completing a pass in the NFL is like solving a geometric proof while base jumping: In order for everything to go right; the timing, the angles, the consistency, the telepathy and the luck must all be aligned in a split second of practiced perfection.

    Although Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and his league-basement 52 percent completion rate are often blamed for the passing game’s woes, the difficulty goes deeper. Add in a receiving corps without its biggest threat (Santonio Holmes), a cycle of free agents that have been plugged in, removed and re-added to the starting lineup during the year (Patrick Turner, Jason Hill, Clyde Gates), a rookie still learning the system (Stephen Hill), a first-year coordinator (Tony Sparano), and Lal, also in his first year, you have a Jets team ranked 27th in the NFL in total pass yardage (195.7), one looking to move the ball more efficiently.

    As the currently constructed roster continues to grow together, facing another test this afternoon against the Rams in St. Louis, they hope that this unstable exercise will become an exact science, one that can buoy a run game and help push the offense forward.

    “It’s a process of learning,” Sanchez said. “Playing with these guys and learning how they run routes and things like that so we’re all trying to improve and that’s all we can do right now is dig in, trust the guy next to you and play for each other and that’s what we’re doing. We know it can get better.”

    CINEMATIC SEQUENCE
    There is no better feeling in a Monday film session then when they see it go right — when the distance and the timing and the placement all come together to form a highlight Lal will use in his reel of perfect routes.

    Take Jeremy Kerley’s second-and-6 seam catch on the opening drive against New England back in Week 6. It went for a gain of 24.

    On that play, Kerley is the “F”, exactly four yards from the numbers. Lal calls him the “bender” on this play because his straight “go” route can be altered inside if the defense is playing a Cover 2.

    He has an exact landmark 12 yards downfield, Lal said, where he needs to make his split-second decision on whether to keep going straight or bend. If Kerley misses his landmark by one yard either way the play blows up. Lal guessed that if Kerley “bent” at the 8-yard mark instead of the 12-yard mark, it would have been intercepted.

    “Right at 12 yards where he’s supposed to, he sticks at his landmark and the ball hits him right between his cornerback and the safety,” Lal said. “That catch point was clinic. Perfect.”

    Plays break down because press coverage prevents receivers from get re-aligned. They break down because a receiver has a built-in option to run the assigned route or take a secondary one and the quarterback reads him wrong.

    Sometimes, plays break down and they have the illusion of success.

    On Sanchez’s goal line interception last week against Seattle, the broadcast shows Hill wide open, flailing his arms and calling for the ball five seconds after the snap in the back of the end zone.

    Sanchez ended up forcing a pass to Dustin Keller and it was picked off by the Seahawks.

    Hill, though, was not really open, according to Lal. He is not a part of Sanchez’s progression and therefore not on the mechanical series of destinations the ball can go. His job was merely to draw a safety away from the right side of the field.

    “It’s so intricate,” wide receiver Chaz Schilens said of the moment the ball is in the air. “There’s a lot of stuff that goes into it and sometimes it’s not always right.”

    The Jets have been trying to solve this puzzle all season without the universal solvent necessary to be an optimum passing team: continuity.

    With preseason injuries, some coaches feared privately that there wouldn’t be enough of a relationship between Sanchez and the wideouts to perform at a high level.

    The ability to trust, and expect that two people are thinking the same thing has been manufactured on the fly with late night practices and extra meetings. Some receivers estimated there are 100 plays ready to go on Sundays, and each one is worked on just five or six times during practice, roughly.

    Tight ends notwithstanding, there will not be a pair of wide Jets receivers today who have played more than nine games together, and so far this season there were just three games where Sanchez has completed 60 percent of his passes or better. In five games, he has hit on less than 50.

    The hope is that the core will stabilize over the remaining eight games. Lal, who describes himself as sometimes “over the top” in his criticism of the receivers’ routes, wants to get them to the point where every route is closer to Kerley’s in New England.

    “It’s angles and geometry,“ he said. ”On any given play you might have a catch point 18 yards on the inside edge of the numbers, and if you don’t have the right angle to get there, I mean, it’s geometry when you think about it.”

    GRADING ON A CURVE
    It takes Lal almost 15 minutes per passing play to determine how to grade the wide receiver. He grades first on whether the receiver ran the right route and again on the technique called for on the specified play.

    For example: If there is a hook route, did the wide receiver “peak” on his route? Did he round it off instead of keeping the cornerback’s eyes until the moment he snaps back toward the quarterback and the ball?

    If he did, it probably effected the play negatively, sparking one of the million things that could go wrong.

    “You have to stay on course,” Kerley said. “You can’t get cluttered because that’s when bad things happen; the timing and the placement. When we’re not in the right spot he can’t put the ball there.”

    On Thursday, Lal emerged from an hour-long meeting that was almost entirely devoted to watching routes run in slow motion. He called it a continual process and views it as the core responsibility of a receiver coach.

    The favorite saying inside the room is almost militant, but in a way simplifies the entire equation, breaking down the straight lines, the angles and the speed.

    Be where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there.

    Lal understands that, especially with a young group, it works against every instinct a receiver has to simply out-jump, out-run and out-grab the person guarding them.

    He knows how hard it can be to relax when all they want is to finally catch a pass; to finally make sense of everything.

    “It’s fighting human nature,” Lal said. “But you can’t play this game in a hurry.”

    http://www.nj.com/jets/index.ssf/201...l#incart_river
    Great read, great article, finally an article that really justifies a lot of what we've seen with Sanchez this year and why, and how much of a handicap he's had to play with.

    Instead we have too much of the fanbase killing him, ready to ship him out, without ANY regard or thought.

    Sad really.

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