We're going to kick off today's analysis with some things you might not have noticed from yesterday's loss to the Patriots:
The line is taking a lot of blame for the offense's pass protection woes but some of the issues lay squarely at Luke Falk's feet. It seems unfair to pile too much blame on a player making his first ever start, but at the same time this is important, because hopefully these are issues that will improve dramatically once Sam Darnold is back.
Take this first sack as an example. The Patriots send a six-man rush and the Jets leave five in to block. As you'd expect, one comes free for the sack:
It's part of Falk's job here to recognize this and immediately go to his hot read. Ryan Griffin is open over the middle and Falk simply fails to process quickly enough to get him the ball. If that's on time, it's probably a first down. Even if it's late, it's probably 3rd-and-short. At 3rd-and-15, the drive is basically over - and the Jets conceded as much but running the ball on the next play.
It's quite possible that Adam Gase would prefer the offensive line to recognize this look pre-snap. They easily could have picked up the blitz by moving Le'Veon Bell to the left to stay in. So, there may be some sharing of the blame here, but there's no doubt Falk needs to process faster and maybe that's something that will come as the game slows down for him with further playing time.
This one isn't Falk's fault, although it's another example of the offensive line not functioning as a cohesive unit rather than anyone getting beaten one-on-one:
Clearly this is designed for Bell to leak out and Falk tries to get it to him but doesn't have time because the pressure is on him so quickly. The issue here is that Kyle Van Noy (#53) bluffs like he's going to come off the edge, drawing Brandon Shell's attention. Brian Winters reads this as a stunt and tries to pass off Michael Bennett to Shell, but Shell hesitates to pick it up and Bennett smells blood and splits them to get to the quarterback.
It's worth noting that the left side picks up the blitz well and had Shell and Winters executed that pass-off correctly, Bell would've had the ball in some space with a chance to get some nice first down yardage.
The third sack came on 3rd-and-18 and was a deliberately ploy to try and exploit the confusion upfront. The Patriots set up a five-man amoeba front, rushed four with a stunt and were able to get to Falk before any downfield routes could develop:
Winters is the problem here, showing poor awareness as he looks to help out the right tackle, who doesn't need it, when he would be in the perfect spot to pick up the stunting linebacker so Ryan Kalil didn't have to vacate his own assignment. Again, though, Falk likely wasn't converting this no matter what - but maybe he could check down and set up a field goal attempt.
The final sack was basically a coverage sack after the offensive line picked up the initial rush but Falk couldn't find anyone as he stepped up. He could have scrambled for positive yardage, but that wouldn't have helped the Jets much with less than two minutes left and the clock running.
Communication issues on the other side of the ball
It was not just on the offensive line that communication issues would abound. It bears repeating how much of a factor losing the two guys who wear the headset must be for any team.
The Patriots were able to exploit that in familiar fashion:
This was something we saw over and over again last year. The slot cornerback is lined up over the slot receiver at the snap, but when he runs a crossing route in behind the linebackers, the slot corner - in this case Brian Poole - passes that player off into non-existent zone coverage.
Unless Poole missed a pre-snap adjustment, at least one of the linebackers here should be geared up to drop off into zone coverage in a situation like this. Either way, that's on Neville Hewitt as the guy with the headset.
Poole had one other play in man coverage where he left a receiver wide open, but he got lucky on that one because the pass was dropped.
The other obvious blown coverage was this one:
The tight end motions over and then stays in initially to block before leaking out and nobody picks him up. Again, whoever's responsibility it should have been, you'd assume Hewitt takes part of the blame for not communicating that.
However, before he motioned to the edge of the line, the tight end was covered by Jamal Adams, who followed him to the edge but then started pointing out matchups and communicating with his teammates.
Clearly, Adams decided the rush the passer but didn't necessarily "go into business for himself". Instead, it's more of a "hug rush" where he could pick up the back if he tried to leak out. You can therefore assume that he wanted to communicate to Hewitt that the back was now Adams' guy and Hewitt now had responsibility for the tight end. So, this appears to be a case of Hewitt not hearing someone else's adjustment rather than what we'd usually assume would be Hewitt making the adjustment and not everyone getting the memo.
The only other possibility that presents itself - although this seems unlikely - was that Adams tried to pass the responsibility to Tarell Basham, who himself would then have been tasked with a "hug rush" type of assignment on the tight end. However, the tight end throws him off and the potential holding call would be extremely rare in such a situation.
EPISODE III - REVENGE OF THE SHEESH
What the hell is this?
Siri, show me a team that literally can't get out of its own way.
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.