We're going to kick off today's analysis with some things you might not have noticed from yesterday's win over the Rams:
Pancakes with da Becton
Breakfast time...and this one comes with extra syrup:
Ya dats right.
Big Boy Decoy
Perhaps the most fun play of the game came on third down early in the second half:
At first glance, it's just a hand-off up the middle with Frank Gore falling forward for the first down. However, get a load of the size of that inside slot receiver!
Yes, the Jets lined up Mekhi Becton in the slot, although he didn't actually do anything to contribute to the play.
The Jets lined Ryan Griffin up at right tackle and George Fant at left tackle, presumably to sow confusion in the Rams' defense. Becton wouldn't have been able to run a route because he didn't declare himself eligible and therefore couldn't move off the line because that would sell the fact it's a run since the defense would know he couldn't go downfield on a pass because he's an ineligible receiver.
Despite lining up at tackle, Griffin can run a route because he's uncovered on the right side. If the defense wasn't alert to this he could run down the seam unaccounted for - and audibling to that may have been an option in this design. Becton would likely bluff a route but stay at the line of scrimmage on such a play.
Another option would be to throw the wide receiver screen which could be extra-effective with Becton out in front against a defensive back. Maybe this was an audible option too but the Rams moved extra defenders to that side so going to the run is the correct read.
Having chosen the run, it still proves to be an interesting play. Having emptied the box by way of their formation, the center and right guard take care of the nose tackle with a combo block. However, you then need to deal with Aaron Donald, who was disruptive all day.
Perhaps aided by the element of surprise - because why would you move Becton out of left tackle and then run over left tackle? - the Jets are able to get Donald out of the middle as George Fant provides the assist to Pat Elflein who tosses a surprised Donald aside.
Even so, Troy Reeder (#51) makes a good read and fills the outside lane before Fant can peel off to pick him up at the second level. However, Gore turns back the clock with a nice cut to elude him and get to the marker.
This was a fun game of cat and mouse. What a shame the Adam Gase coaching staff won't be around long enough to explore some of the other wrinkles from this set.
As for Gore, he was noticeably thrilled to seal the win with a first down catch over the middle at the two minute warning - only his second first down reception all season. Gore had a few key plays down the stretch and scored a key touchdown on a day when he had 59 yards on 23 carries. Not much of a last hurrah, but he got what he wanted and won't have to "go out like that".
Every week we see countless examples of blown coverages in the Jets' secondary, giving the opposition easy completions for key yardage in important situations. They had a bunch last week in Frank Bush's first game as the defensive coordinator.
This week, it was the Rams who were having these issues though. Notably on two plays in particular. The first was Ty Johnson's touchdown:
This one is pretty easy to diagnose. When Johnson moves from the right side of the formation to the left side, Reeder clearly believes this makes him the responsibility of Kenny Young (#41). Tellingly, they both follow the tight end as he goes from left to right.
Interestingly, Johnson caught six passes in the first half but wasn't targeted after halftime, a classic example of the Jets making an adjustment that was essentially going away from something that was working quite well. It's perhaps no surprise that Sam Darnold was 2-for-7 for eight yards over the last 17 minutes as the Jets limped across the finishing line.
The Jets probably spotted something exploitable on film with that play, but this one seems to be a well-designed play, perhaps that they were saving for a situation like this. Up by 10 (that explains why they never used it before), late in the third on 3rd-and-short:
Jamison Crowder goes in motion right before the snap. It's possible that the slot corner (#22) was supposed to go with him or perhaps pass him off to Young, who stays underneath to pick up the back.
However, this play is designed so the Rams can't simply drop the outside cornerback off to the outside and have the safety come up and pick up the other wide receiver because Denzel Mims sets up the corner with an inside jab and then releases outside instead to create a natural pick.
Crowder went for 16 on that play and caught another pass on the next snap to set up the field goal which ultimately proved the difference in the game.
The Jets should've been exploiting blown coverages all season but bad offensive design and execution have prevented this from happening as often as it does to their defense. Hopefully next year will be different.
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.