- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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Taking a look at the television copy of Sunday's game against the Jets and offering some second quarter observations:
1) One of the plays the Jets' offense turned to multiple times throughout the game was an inside run that included end-around action from a wide receiver. Early in the first quarter, this end-around fake came after the handoff; when the Jets ran it again at the end of the first quarter, the end-around was second in a series of play fakes, followed by a screen pass to RB LaDainian Tomlinson. It did little to fool Patriots defenders, though, as LB Brandon Spikes read RG Brandon Moore coming outside to block for Tomlinson and stayed home, combining with DT Kyle Love to stop Tomlinson for a short gain. Spikes continued his strong first half on the next play, shedding C Nick Mangold in the hole to stop FB John Conner for no gain.
2) The Jets ran the same style play on their next drive, on a second-and-5. This time, QB Mark Sanchez handed off to RB Shonn Greene, allowing the end-around action to serve as a fake again. While LB Gary Guyton filled one hole by meeting Conner, Spikes seemed to fall for the end-around action, tracking the play further downfield. This allowed Mangold to get solid leverage on Spikes and clean out the middle of the field for Greene to gain the first down.
3) One of the few times the Jets spread out their offensive formation in the game came on a second-and-9, and it was effective. Tomlinson was motioned out of the backfield, drawing Guyton (in man coverage) with him. Meanwhile, WR Santonio Holmes was lined up on the right wing, and despite a blitz off the left edge by CB Kyle Arrington, Spikes was forced to shade his underneath zone to Holmes, as CB Devin McCourty was already drawn outside on TE Dustin Keller. Out of the shotgun, which helped stymie the Patriots pass rush, Sanchez was able to make a quick read, hitting Holmes as he turned upfield, eluding Spikes. This is the type of targeted, quick-strike, spread offensive attack that has given the Patriots defense matchup problems.
4) The Jets returned to a similar approach on their ensuing third-and-2, lining up Keller off the left edge and three receivers bunched off the right edge, with Sanchez in the shotgun. The Patriots were in their nickel defense, but CB Leigh Bodden (off Keller) and Arrington (off WR Jeremy Kerley) were the only defensive backs close to the line of scrimmage, with the ball at the Patriots' 16-yard line. Arrington jammed Kerley off the line and then shadowed Holmes as he broke towards the right flat, and then downfield. This allowed WR Plaxico Burress a clean break off the line, cutting under zone coverage from Spikes and Guyton, who both released Burress (mistakenly, most likely) to the opposite side of the field. By this time, Bodden had already tracked Keller downfield, giving Burress plenty of room to make the catch and first down. Two plays later, the Jets stayed in this shotgun formation, spreading out the Patriots' defense, but then scored on a 3-yard Greene touchdown run.
5) Just prior to Brady's second recorded sack (by OLB Jamaal Westerman), he was sacked by CB Donald Strickland on a play negated by a CB Darrelle Revis illegal contact penalty. This was another case of a coverage sack for the Jets, coming out of a zone-style overload blitz. Both Strickland and LB David Harris blitzed off the right edge, while Westerman dropped into a zone off the left edge. RT Nate Solder seemed to have a momentarily lapse in judgment, dropping back to track Strickland but briefly giving RG Brian Waters a hand with his block, as if he expected backfield help with Strickland. Solder quickly returned outside to block Strickland, but fell down as the cornerback turned the corner towards Brady. With easily five seconds to throw from the shotgun, though, this another one where Brady needs to get the ball off.
6) Westerman's ensuing sack was another case of confusion on the Patriots' offensive line; this time, it involved LT Matt Light. With Harris blitzing inside and S Eric Smith blitzing outside, LG Logan Mankins slid inside for Harris, while Light slid outside for Smith. This left Westerman, lined up over Light, to RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. However, Green-Ellis also set-up outside for Smith, allowing Westerman free passage to Brady. In previous Jets-Patriots matchups in recent seasons, this is the manner in which the Jets are usually able to take down Brady. However, the Patriots were able to shore up their pass protection for the remainder of their drive, which ended on an Antonio Cromartie interception in the end zone.
Taking a look at the television copy of Sunday's game against the Jets and offering some second quarter observations:1) One of the plays the Jets' offense turned to multiple times throughout the game was an inside run that included end-around action from a wide receiver.