After each game, we're going to highlight three defensive and three offensive players and look in detail at their performance. We'll wrap up today with the offense:
As the Crow flies
Will Isaiah Crowell's sensational 219-yard performance elevate the running game to the next level or just prove to be an aberration by the end of the season? Who knows? It was certainly an impressive display though.
Crowell gained positive yardage on 14 of his 15 carries and gained at least five yards nine times. He broke runs of 15, 54 and 36 yards in addition to his 77-yard touchdown, setting an NFL record for the most yards per carry by anyone with at least 15 carries.
While these big gains are important, it's plays like this one, where he could have been stopped in the backfield for a loss but somehow managed to pick up five yards, that really keep the chains moving and cause the yards to start adding up:
Crowell also had a spectacular short yardage conversion where he was stuffed in the backfield by Domata Peko but threw the 324-pounder off him to make it to the first down marker.
As a pass catcher, Crowell was only targeted once, but made the most of it with a sick open field move after catching a dump-off underneath. Despite slipping and falling after having shaken Bradley Chubb out of his socks, he was able to get back up and pick up the first down.
Crowell needs to improve his pass protection if he's going to be on the field more often - he wasn't trusted in that role this week, following some missteps against Jacksonville - because the Jets should obviously try and get him to replicate this performance.
Robby bodied Bradley Roby badly, buddy
Robby Anderson had a breakout performance with three catches for 123 yards and two scores, although he wasn't even targeted in the second half.
Of course Anderson's two deep touchdown catches that saw him burn Bradley Roby twice will get most of the attention, but he also showed some nice route-running skills on his one other catch:
Anderson was targeted unsuccessfully on two passes but each of those was batted down at the line of scrimmage.
As a blocker, Anderson showed some good hustle to get in the way on Crowell's touchdown run after initially not really latching onto his target near the line of scrimmage. He also did a pretty good job of staying on Roby downfield on an outside run by Crowell that went for a 15-yard gain.
It would still be nice to see Anderson catching a higher number of passes, but being a deep threat is his bread and butter and with three touchdowns already this year from 41, 76 and 35 yards, that threat is going to start opening up some more opportunities within the offense.
Winning in the trenches
Once again playing fast and loose with the "three players" concept, we're going to take a look at the run blocking as a whole. Ordinarily, when you rack up over 300 yards on the ground, you'd expect the run blockers to all grade out really well. However, that was not necessarily the case. On the same token, Crowell can't get all the credit himself, because Bilal Powell also had a massive day with 99 yards on 20 carries.
Interestingly, while most of Crowell's big runs came around the outside, none of them came of outside or stretch zone plays. Powell's longest run - a 38-yarder - did come on an outside zone concept, although he ended up reversing his field because there were no lanes open.
For Crowell, the 15-yarder and the touchdown were inside zone plays with the run designed to go up the middle, but Crowell saw there was room to the outside and bounced it out. His 54-yard run just after halftime worked as intended through, as Kelvin Beachum and James Carpenter's combo block drove the defensive tackle back and caused the linebacker to be caught up in traffic while Eric Tomlinson made a good kickout block on the edge. Beachum and Carpenter did a similar thing on Crowell's touchdown run, although that one was bounced outside.
The 36-yard run with which Crowell broke the record was actually a man-blocking scheme as a pulling Carpenter made the crucial reach block on the outside:
Despite the numbers, the run blocking was far from perfect on the day. As you can see from the earlier gif, Brian Winters allowed penetration into the backfield, although he did a decent job of recovering to prevent his man from getting in on the tackle. Also, on the play where Crowell threw Peko off to pick up the first down, that should've been blown up as well. Again it was Winters who got beaten on that play.
Aside from Winters, the rest of the offensive line did a solid job in the running game, although everyone had their ups and downs. Beachum made a great kick-out block on one play but it was his block that Adam Gotsis beat to force a first quarter turnover. Shane Ray also beat a Brandon Shell block to blow up a run for a loss.
Another run was bottled up for a loss as Chris Herndon got driven back into the running back's path. Tomlinson didn't have a good game as a blocker either, although he made a good lead block from fullback on an old school iso-play from an I-formation. Jordan Leggett continues to show flashes that he might be a better blocker than his reputation might have you believe though.
Playing on a short week and on a cross-country trip out east, you could perhaps attribute some of the Broncos' struggles against the run to fatigue. The Jets still have some gelling to do, but they certainly did a good job of taking advantage...even if Crowell does deserve the majority of the credit.
PREVIOUSLY: 3-on-D: Williams, Nickerson, Maye