QuickFix: When stunts go wrong

The Falcons have plenty of pass rushing talent. Vic Beasley had 15.5 sacks last season and, entering Sunday's action, had three in four games so far this year. Grady Jarrett had three sacks in the Super Bowl. Veterans Brooks Reed, Adrian Clayborn and Derrick Shelby aren't ever likely to put up massive pass rush numbers, but they're experienced veterans who will exploit bad blocking and create pressure when given the chance.

However, Josh McCown was only under pressure a couple of times in the first half. The Falcons were winning match-ups but not getting there early enough to pressure McCown before he got the ball away. Officially, they had just one quarterback hit.

They did manage to get pressure on McCown on the first play of the second quarter; a play where the defender just got a fingertip on a pass intended for Jermaine Kearse that otherwise would likely have given the Jets a first down inside the 10.

That pressure came as James Carpenter's man stunted outside and got past Kelvin Beachum before he could react. This didn't appear to be a designed stunt, more of an opportunistic reaction.

In order to increase the pressure in the second half, Atlanta worked in more designed stunts and the Jets had problems with these. The Falcons ended up with seven quarterback hits, including three sacks, so this definitely had a positive effect.

The first of these actually saw the Jets complete a downfield pass anyway, on a nice diving grab by Robby Anderson:


On this play you can see that the stunt comes from the outside and lands a clean hit on McCown. The tackle forces Beachum and Carpenter to double team him and Carpenter isn't quick enough to recover to prevent the inside rush. As you can see, Wesley Johnson was in position to be alert to this, but doesn't react in time either.

Atlanta went to another stunt for a big play to open up the fourth quarter. This time, Jarrett stunts underneath from the left side to the right side and gets to McCown:


The sack knocked the Jets back seven yards and forced them to attempt a 48-yard field goal, which was missed. That also set up the Falcons with good field position from which they drove for the touchdown which proved to be the game winner.

On the play, Carpenter is busy helping Johnson to control Dontari Poe while Brian Winters and Brent Qvale struggle to contain Beasley on the left. Carpenter stays on his block too long again and is unable to recover to pick up Jarrett, although he nearly manages to do so this time.

This next one, as with the one in the first half, didn't appear to be a designed stunt and actually ended up benefiting the Jets because it was roughing the passer. However, it underlines the Jets' inability to react in pass protection and prevent their quarterback from taking a hit that could easily knock him out of the game or worse:


On the play, the tackles manage to stay in front of their men to protect McCown from getting hit and enable him to get the throw off, but Johnson gets driven back into Carpenter and his man, presenting the opportunity for Ahtyba Rubin to disengage and and use those two to wall Johnson off.

There was one other stunt the Falcons performed which was successful in a key moment. On 3rd-and-7 with four minutes left in the fourth quarter and a chance to drive for the go-ahead score, the Jets ended up being forced to punt after the pocket collapsed and McCown couldn't get a clean throw off.

On that particular play, the Falcons had an unbalanced defensive line with three players spread out on the right side of the defense and Beasley out wide on the left.

They left Ijalana on his own to deal with Beasley and he did a poor job, barely getting his hands on him as he beat him around the edge. The other four offensive linemen slid across to take care of the other three pass rushers.

Winters and Johnson double teamed Jarrett while Carpenter picked up the other tackle and Beachum dropped off to pick up Clayborn off the edge. However, Clayborn stunted to the inside and Carpenter stayed on his man for too long so Beachum was boxed off and Clayborn was able to push Carpenter back into McCown, who was already being hit from the backside by Beasley.

Some on-the-face-of-it pretty decent pass protection numbers mask the fact that the Jets have mostly been limiting the amount of pressure by using extra blockers or getting rid of the ball quickly. That places limitations on what the offense can do, especially when they're already struggling to run the ball.

The Jets have spent much of this season being overmatched in the trenches and they have yet to develop much cohesion in terms of how they block as a unit. It probably hasn't helped that they've suffered a few injuries and had to make personnel changes from week to week.

PREVIOUSLY: Reviewing the rotations