We're going to start today's analysis with some things you might not have noticed from yesterday's loss to the Patriots:
The roaring twenties
One key to the Patriots' win was their number of chunk plays. They had 10 plays of 20 yards or more, as opposed to the Jets, who managed just two. However, the disparity wasn't quite as big as you might think because the Jets also had eight plays of between 16 and 19 yards. This was a big improvement over the Bills game where they only had four plays of longer than 15 yards.
Nevertheless, the Patriots chunk plays were a big factor in their win and many of them were avoidable. Morris Claiborne was easily beaten on a crossing route for 36 yards, at least two plays saw Buster Skrine matched up in the slot but staying at home in zone coverage while nobody picked up the open receiver and the two touchdowns saw Jordan Jenkins blow a coverage to leave Julian Edelman open in the flat and Avery Williamson take a deep drop but let a deep ball over his head before Claiborne could get over.
Marcus Maye being out probably didn't help, as he often calls many of the coverages. Reserve cornerback Darryl Roberts took his place and while he didn't make any obvious mistakes, you can't help thinking a more experienced player could have prevented or limited some of these plays. However, as a last line of defense, Roberts was in on the tackle on four of those 10 plays, so was a factor in the Jets at least not giving up any 40-yard plays.
We've seen confusion in coverage most weeks, so it's nothing new. Instead, let's focus on the four running plays that went for 20-plus. Here was the longest:
This play pops nicely over the left side and Frankie Luvu is kicked out at the point of attack, Darron Lee is kicked out at the second level by the fullback and Morris Claiborne is also sealed to the outside on three well-timed blocked. However, don't let your eyes be distracted by the cutback action because the reason this is such a big gain is that Avery Williamson gets destroyed at the second level by Trent Brown.
This was inevitably going to be an issue on defense this year, as Steve McLendon is manhandled by Brown at left tackle, enabling the left guard to control him at the point of attack so that Brown can get out to the next level and drive Williamson ten yards downfield.
Brown was also crucial to the next-longest running play, as the Patriots again set up a counter-action which leads to Nathan Shepherd being isolated against Brown on the left side and the rookie loses this match-up badly:
Tellingly, this came on the first play of the second half, perhaps suggesting the Patriots saw something on film that they could exploit. Everyone bites on the action to the right and gets caught out on that side, so over-aggressiveness from the linebackers is probably the "something" they looked to exploit.
Jamal Adams can't recover because Shepherd ends up in his lap and Luvu is initially controlled too easily by Rob Gronkowski at the point of attack so he's unable to get back and make a diving tackle.
On this next play, you can see the disconnect between the inside linebackers. Jordan Jenkins gets pancaked off the edge by Gronkowski creating a big lane off right tackle. Darron Lee has a choice to make - either he pursues outside and leaves himself open to being kicked out to create a huge cutback lane or he leverages himself into that hole and relies on someone behind him filling outside if the run gets bounced out. Unfortunately, Williamson can't get across because he hesitates, obviously half expecting Lee to go outside and force the runner to cut back:
This last big run exploits Foley Fatukasi who had only just come off the bench cold for his first NFL snaps. Once again, the main problem here is that the double team controls him so cleanly that one of the blockers can peel off and take out Williamson at the second level:
There's a lot to unpack here, but the main takeaway is that these things can be avoidable. While there's a mixture of poor line play and bad anticipation from the linebackers involved, these plays also exploit poor run fits on the Jets' part. Whether that's a failing of the scheme or the on-field communication is unknown, but it seems more likely that it's the latter, given their ongoing issues all season.
Inspirational words of wisdom
Finally, hopefully you drew great inspiration from Jason McCourty's yearbook entry that the broadcast showed when they nauseatingly touched upon the fairytale of the two McCourty brothers being reunited In New England:
However, in whose dictionary does "success" come before "hard work"?
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.