We're going to continue today's analysis with some things you might not have noticed from yesterday's loss to the Colts:
All Reich, No Brakes
Let's start by completely shooting down this narrative from the New York Post, who suggest that the Jets are lucky Frank Reich was classy enough to show them mercy and that he doesn't bear a grudge from his days as a backup quarterback with the team, otherwise the Colts could have ended up with 60-70 points.
Jets’ head coach, Robert Saleh, insisted the Colts “never took their foot off the gas,” which he’ll probably see differently once he takes a second look at the game film.
Except, no he won't, because this is what happened over the last 18 minutes after the Colts went 42-10 up:
- The Colts' first possession saw two runs get stuffed and then a deep downfield pass was incomplete.
- The next possession, in the fourth quarter, saw them pass on all six plays before the Jets stopped them on another downfield pass on third down and forced them to settle for a field goal. This included a misdirection gadget play on a fake toss and dump off to a tight end leaking underneath.
- Their last possession saw them stuffed on first down so they tried to pass on second down and were sacked, then threw deep on third down. This was with three minutes remaining.
There is no evidence whatsoever that the Colts took their foot off the gas, they were just limited to three possessions due to the efficiency of the Jets offense - and tried hard to push the ball downfield on all three.
The Indianavalanche Colts
Without question, the main aspect of this Colts win was how badly the Jets struggled to stop the run and the short passing game.
A feature of this was that the Jets were not just outmatched in space, but also outnumbered by an avalanche of Colts blockers. How is this happening?
Check out the wall of blue heading downfield and how spread out the Jets' defense is to make it easy to get a hat on a hat. The play is designed for Michael Pittman to come back towards the ball and then run up the middle on a tunnel screen and you can already see there should be lanes available to him.
(Ignore the fact that Braden Smith was five yards downfield when the ball was thrown because clearly these Colts knew this officiating crew wasn't going to call that kind of thing).
The Jets were fortunate on this play that Folorunso Fatukasi was able to get to Wentz and prevent him from getting a clean throw off. However, the attacking nature of the defensive line's approach was making it easy for the Colts to use the linemen's momentum against them to push them upfield and then free up other blockers to peel off and get downfield.
This image sums that up as CJ Mosley finds himself triple-teamed at the second level while all four linemen end up in he backfield with just one blocker.
Jarrad Davis exacerbates the problem by misreading the cutback lane and getting caught up behind Mosley and the defensive backs fail to get off blocks, take the right angles or maintain contain, leading to the Colts' first touchdown.
Sheldon Rankins was at least taking on his blocks at the point of attack or attempting to move laterally but he got sealed off on Taylor's second touchdown run and driven into Mosley's way on this one.
Once again, Davis tries to anticipate and fill the cutback lane but just ends up getting sealed to the inside.
There's some misreads involved here and the Jets need their defensive backs to do a better job of filling, containing and limiting but the Jets might need to think about changing up their approach on the defensive line because right now it seems like the Patriots may have given the rest of the league a blueprint for how to exploit their aggressiveness, even if the Bengals somehow overlooked this.
This Dime I know it's for real
The Jets debuted an interesting personnel package in this game, which also gave rookie cornerback Jason Pinnock the first two defensive snaps of his career.
This was a third down dime package which, uniquely, only included one linebacker and one safety on the field. The Jets operated with a conventional three man front, CJ Mosley at linebacker and a deep safety. Otherwise, they had FIVE cornerbacks in the game.
Brandin Echols and Bryce Hall lined up outside as usual and Deuce Carter and Pinnock were in the slot. Javelin Guidry operated essentially as a rover or dimebacker. Spare a thought for Isaiah Dunn who doesn't even manage to get on the field in a five-CB personnel package.
When the Jets ran this package in the first half, Ashtyn Davis came out of the game and Marcus Maye stayed in. Tellingly, when they ran it in the second half, by which time Maye had left with an injury, Davis still came out and Sharrod Neasman stayed in. This perhaps suggests they don't trust Davis to be the lone deep guy in a package such as this.
In the first half, the Jets ran this on 3rd-and-10 but Hall got caught up on a natural rub route, freeing up the receiver over the middle for a first down. The coverage was otherwise air-tight and it was ironic that they got let down by the one guy who's been their most consistent corner here.
It worked better in the second half as Guidry blitzed and the Colts were forced to punt when Carson Wentz threw incomplete. Echols gave his man too much room though and a better throw might have converted this.
This could be something the Jets introduce more of in the games to come, but that will depend on if they have the faith in their safeties to handle this with Maye out.
Moving the Sticks
Incredibly, the Jets racked up almost 500 yards despite being without their top three quarterbacks, best offensive lineman and top pass catcher.
This was sparked by some remarkable third down efficiency down the stretch, enabling the Jets to control the ball for almost 14 of the last 18 minutes as they outscored the Colts 20-3 over that span to make the score somewhat respectable.
During that time, the Jets converted on 7-of-8 third downs, with the only failure, on the last of the eight, being immediately followed by a 4th-and-10 conversion. This included two catches each for Ryan Griffin and Jeff Smith, one by Elijah Moore, one by Ty Johnson and first down runs by Josh Johnson and Ace Carter. Two of these plays went for touchdowns too.
To some extent, it's obviously true that the Colts were giving the Jets a lot of underneath stuff, but they were trying to get off the field on those third and fourth downs and the Jets got on a nice roll in terms of converting them all.
The importance of these conversion was also amplified by the fact that Johnson had, through no fault of his own, only converted on one other third down prior to this sequence - the amazing play on 3rd-and-15 where Jamison Crowder threw the ball back across the field to Carter.
Hopefully this can yield some results down the road in terms of Zach Wilson seeing the practical application of how to sustain drives within this system.
We'll have some more in-depth analysis for you throughout the rest of today and over the next few days, so keep checking back here early and often.