We're going to continue today's analysis with some things you might not have noticed from yesterday's loss to the Ravens:
Breaking the dam
If there's one thing the Jets and their fans have been able to hang their hat on in this lost season, it's their run defense. That they've remained right near the top of the league in that category despite losing their top three inside linebackers to season-ending injuries is nothing short of remarkable.
However, one of the most surprising aspects of last night's game from an analytical standpoint was that the Ravens racked up 218 yards, even higher than their average of 201 per game that they had coming in and which led rest of the the league by over 50 yards.
Of course, a higher total than usual was expected, because Lamar Jackson has been racking up a ton of rushing yardage all year, much of which comes on pass plays where he takes off and scrambles. That was certainly a factor, with Jackson gaining 86 yards on eight carries.
That wasn't the whole story, though, as Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards combined for 111 yards on 18 carries, with Ingram averaging almost six yards per carry and Edwards averaging seven.
The Ravens have had one of the league's best offensive lines this year, but they were a little short-handed against the Jets with their best lineman - left tackle Ronnie Stanley - out with a concussion. They're already not at full strength with an undrafted rookie starting at center since Matt Skura's season ending injury a few weeks ago.
But this wasn't so much a case of the Jets being overwhelmed up front anyway. Moreover, Jackson's effectiveness on option keepers has a wider effect on the Jets' inability to handle conventional running back runs.
Whenever Jackson kept the ball and ran off the edge, the Jets' edge defenders were hesitating and lacked the athleticism to prevent him from turning the corner. The obvious counter to this is to bring an inside linebacker wide so that they can set the edge instead, but then that makes you more susceptible to runs up the middle and leads to plays like this where that player just gets overwhelmed by a bigger lineman.
The Ravens were able to get blockers out to the second level all day to prevent James Burgess and Neville Hewitt from limiting yardage on running plays as they've done over the last month and overwhelmed the secondary with downfield blocking.
This begs the question of what else could the Jets have done to slow the attack. Being so shorthanded personnel-wise? Not a lot. Even putting extra defenders in the box didn't help, as it just allowed for easy plays in the passing game for big gains downfield.
Despite the huge day, the Jets are still just ahead of the Eagles for the second-lowest total of rushing yards per game, with Todd Bowles' Bucs now well out in front. The Jets still lead the league in terms of the lowest yards per carry average, though.
Gregg Williams finally finds himself a blitz threat
It took 14 games but Gregg Williams finally found a way to dial up some pressure, with the best-timed delayed blitz you'll see all season:
When you don't have a Cam Jordan, you obviously need to find some other Cam to make a contribution.
Kudos to Jackson for being so unflappable in the face of such pressure, though.
Hot fullback action!
Le'Veon Bell's season-high 87 rushing yards did come from an offensive adjustment on the Jets' part. They liberally employed Trevon Wesco as a fullback in offset I-formations, to good effect.
In the first half, Bell's six carries without Wesco at fullback netted just 12 yards. However, his six carries with Wesco at fullback netted 44, including his longest run of the day:
The Ravens adjusted in the second half and this package was less effective, but Bell ended up with 61 yards on 11 carries running behind Wesco and only 26 on his 10 carries where Wesco was at tight end or not in the game.
Bell was always effective running behind a fullback in Pittsburgh, so this adjustment made sense. Perhaps it's taken the Jets to this point to have enough confidence in Wesco's abilities as a lead blocker, but we counted seven positives and only one negative lead block on those 11 plays.
Wesco didn't offer much other than his run blocking though. He wasn't targeted in the passing game, with Daniel Brown's four-yarder being the only catch by a Jets tight end all day. He also continues to struggle as a pass blocker, giving up the only sack of the day and a costly turnover:
Hopefully we'll see more development from the rookie as there's no reason not to give him a ton of playing time in the last two games.
Much more analysis to come later today and over the next few days. Please let us know who you'd like to see us feature in more detail in 3-on-D and 3-on-O.