New York Jets: Film Review

Green Day: Film review of Sunday's win

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
7:00
AM ET
One last look back at the New York Jets' 24-13 win over the Cleveland Browns:

Geno Smith delivered his best performance in two months -- easily. What impressed me the most was the poise he demonstrated on third down. As expected, the Browns came after him, rushing five or more on eight of his 12 dropbacks. They sent a couple of corner blitzes, probably going to school on the Jets-Panthers tape from the previous week. But Smith, afforded terrific pass protection, was unflappable.

He completed 9 of 12 passes on third down, including three conversions on third-and-10 or greater. To me, Smith's best play came on a third-and-12 to Jeremy Kerley. It came against a Cover 2 look, with Kerley beating linebacker D'Qwell Jackson into the soft middle for 22 yards. It was significant because, in a similar situation four weeks ago against the Miami Dolphins, Smith was intercepted by linebacker Dannell Ellerbe on a throw to the slot receiver.

Progress? Yes, but keep in mind the Browns were ranked 27th in third-down defense.

Other takeaways from the game:

1. The Marty Bunch: Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg did a nice job of using bunch formations to create separation for the receivers. A good example was Smith's 6-yard touchdown pass to David Nelson. They had three tight ends on the field -- unusual for third-and-6 -- with Nelson lined up in a bunch to the right. He got a free release and ran a post route through bracket coverage. Smith anticipated Nelson's break, winding up before Nelson turned for the ball -- just like you draw it up. Later, Nelson had a 15-yard reception out of another bunch formation.

2. Welcome back, wideouts: This may have been the best game for the wide-receiving corps, which produced 11 catches, 123 yards and two touchdowns. It had better numbers against the Cincinnati Bengals (15 for 130), but that was a blowout loss. The Browns used a lot of "off" coverage, playing into the Jets' hands. Everybody knows you have to play aggressive press coverage against the Jets' wideouts.

3. Tone's time almost up: It was a disappointing day for Santonio Holmes, who had as many drops (two) as receptions. On the positive side, he did a nice job of shielding cornerback Buster Skrine in the end zone on Smith's 17-yard touchdown scramble. Curiously, Holmes didn't partake in the celebration. Smith was mobbed by seven teammates, but Holmes, nearby, didn't join in, looking like he was sulking.

4. Reed responds in backup role: Safety Ed Reed, replaced by Antonio Allen in the base defense, played his best game as a Jet. In fact, the much-maligned safety group allowed only one completion in five targets, recorded an interception (Reed) and broke up two passes -- a solid performance. Then again, what do we writers know about football, right, Ed?

5. Flawless protection: Kudos to the offensive line -- no sacks, no quarterback hits. I've been critical of rookie left guard Brian Winters, but this was one of his better games. He had a key block on Bilal Powell's 39-yard run.

6. Defensive hiccup: The Jets were gashed on Edwin Baker's 5-yard touchdown run. It happened with defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (shoulder) temporarily out of the game. His replacement, Leger Douzable, was double-teamed. Outside linebacker Quinton Coples fell victim to a trap block, creating a crease for Baker. Afterward, Rex Ryan took responsibility, saying he should've used the goal-line defense instead of the base.

7. Not so special: Special-teams mistakes have cost the Jets 10 points in the last two games. There was the blocked punt in Carolina, and the failed fake punt against the Browns. Josh Bush, a safety, took the direct snap and uncorked a Tebow-esque pass into the ground, missing a wide-open Isaiah Trufant. They will say it should've worked because he was open, but I didn't see the point in resorting to trickeration against a hapless team like the Browns. The Jets also allowed a 50-yard kickoff return at a critical point in the game, but it was a treat to see Saalim Hakim turn on the jets and track down Fozzy Whittaker. Dude can fly.

Film Review: Jets get skunked by Panthers

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
6:30
PM ET
One last look back at the New York Jets' 30-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers:

I heard this expression a long time ago (I think it came from Bill Parcells), and it applies to one element of the game: How many times do you need to get hit in the face with a skunk before you realize it stinks?

The Jets got hit with a cornerback blitz on their sixth play from scrimmage, but they did little to stop it -- so the Panthers used it over and over. The Panthers aren't known for exotic blitzes, but they kept sending Captain Munnerlyn off the corner. Why not?

[+] EnlargeCaptain Munnerlyn and Geno Smith
Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCTCaptain Munnerlyn and the Panthers used cornerback blitzes to get at Jets QB Geno Smith.
On the Panthers' first sack, Munnerlyn was unblocked on a front-side blitz and tackled Geno Smith. On their third sack, Munnerlyn came on a back-side blitz. Running back Bilal Powell picked him up, but it allowed linebacker Luke Kuechly to loop around left tackle -- unblocked -- for the sack out of a six-man rush. On the fourth sack, Munnerlyn came from the back side again. The Jets emptied the backfield, so there was no one to block him.

If Munnerlyn had a few more chances, he might have finished with three or four sacks. It wasn't a well-coordinated effort by the Jets, but a lot of those problems can be attributed to Smith's inexperience. He simply needs to do a better job of recognizing pressure and finding his hot reads.

The Panthers sent extra pressure twice as often as they usually do, surprising the Jets. Against five or more rushers, Smith was only 6-for-12, plus four sacks. He averaged only 2.9 yards per dropback, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Panthers did a nice job with their game plan, attacking a Jets weakness.

Other takeaways:

1. Another Geno hiccup: Smith, explaining his interception, admitted he should've checked down to another receiver instead of forcing the ball into a tight window to Santonio Holmes. The tape reveals that Smith had three wide-open check-down options --Jeremy Kerley, Jeff Cumberland and Powell. This was another example of poor field vision by the rookie. He also got caught up in the moment. The Panthers had just converted a blocked punt into a touchdown, and Smith wanted to reclaim the momentum by taking a risk on third down. Sometimes the quarterback has to know when to fold and wait for the next hand. Instead, he turned Munnerlyn into a hero. It was Smith's fifth pick-six of the season, tying Joe Namath for the team's single-season mark.

2. Bad Geno, good Geno: Earlier, Smith provided a glimpse of good and bad on back-to-back plays. Throwing on the run, he misfired badly on a deep ball to a wide-open Saalim Hakim, sailing a pass about 4 yards out of bounds -- a blown opportunity. On the next play, Smith did a great job of moving in the pocket against a five-man rush, throwing a strike to Cumberland for a 35-yard gain. Such is life with a rookie quarterback.

3. The nightmare screen: This was on linebacker David Harris. The Jets were in man-to-man coverage and Harris got caught peeking into the backfield, biting on Cam Newton's fake screen to the left. That drew him out of position just enough to allow DeAngelo Williams to catch the screen-right and get around the corner. Incredibly, he turned a routine play into a 72-yard touchdown. Safety Ed Reed also fell for the fake and arrived late, taking a bad angle. Cornerback Dee Milliner, who strikes me as a finesse tackler, couldn't get off the block of receiver Brandon LaFell. Milliner looked like he wanted to slow-dance with LaFell.

4. Another cold Winters: Left guard Brian Winters might be a good player some day, but he's having a nightmare of a rookie season. He surrendered one sack, allowed a pressure that contributed to another sack and committed a costly holding penalty in the fourth quarter. Vladimir Ducasse is John Hannah compared to this.

5. Odds and ends: Rex Ryan took the blame on Mike Tolbert's 1-yard touchdown run. Anticipating a run up the middle, he used what he called a "sell-the-farm" defense. He used six linemen, including four between the inside shoulders of the two offensive tackles. That left a gap on the outside shoulder of the two tackles. The Panthers ran directly into that gap on the left side. Quinton Coples slanted in and was buried. Linebacker DeMario Davis was blocked by a pulling guard, allowing Tolbert to walk into the end zone. ... The Jets' blitz didn't bother Newton at all. Against five or more rushers, he was 7-for-10, averaging 11.9 yards per dropback. He was sacked only once. ... Cornerback Darrin Walls played only one defensive snap and missed a key tackle.

Film review: No Mojo for Mo Wilkerson

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
3:00
PM ET
One last look at the New York Jets' 37-27 win over the Oakland Raiders:

This was an unusually quiet game for DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who was credited with only two tackles. He wasn't disruptive in the pass rush, appearing at times as if he were less than 100 percent. You can't help but wonder if his wrist injury is affecting his ability to shed blockers.

Wilkerson showed up on the injury report two weeks ago, meaning he probably hurt it against the Baltimore Ravens -- his last impact performance. He has been limited in practice, but he continues to downplay the injury, insisting it's no big deal. But could it be a coincidence that the Jets' run defense has slipped since Wilkerson hurt his wrist? The Jets have allowed 275 rushing yards in the last two games.

It's almost unfair to pick on Wilkerson because he's such a good player, undoubtedly the team MVP. That, of course, is why we take notice when he's not his usual dominant self.

Other takeaways after breaking down the tape:

1. Glitches for Geno: Rookie QB Geno Smith, perhaps playing for his job, took some nice strides in this game. No doubt, it was a winning performance. But, for the sake of evaluation, we can't ignore the entire picture. He got away with some poor throws. There were two near-interceptions and a blown touchdown opportunity on the first drive, when he missed TE Kellen Winslow in the end zone. Winslow beat a linebacker in man-to-man coverage, but the pass was thrown over the wrong shoulder.

[+] EnlargeJets
AP Photo/Bill KostrounJeremy Kerley bailed Geno Smith out on a touchdown pass against the Raiders.
Smith's 25-yard touchdown to Jeremy Kerley was off the mark as well, underthrown, but Kerley bailed him out with a terrific "jump-ball" effort in the end zone. You can get away with questionable throws against a bad team like the Raiders -- "Bad News Bears," as Charles Woodson said -- but Smith won't have the same success against the Carolina Panthers if he doesn't sharpen up.

2. A run of beauty: Chris Ivory's 15-yard touchdown was one of the best plays of the season. In a span of 15 yards, he broke five tackles, demonstrating an impressive combination of power and agility. Let me break it down by missed tackles:

A. Ivory, cutting back on a misdirection run, slipped an arm tackle by DE Lamarr Houston at the 15.

B. Ivory plowed through S Charles Woodson, who squared up with him at the 13.

C. Showing quick feet, Ivory used a stutter-step move to get around S Brandian Ross at the 11.

D. Ivory confronted LB Sio Moore, who earlier was flattened and dazed by an Ivory block while rushing the passer. That unpleasant encounter may have stuck in Moore's head because, instead of throwing his full weight into Ivory, he avoided a head-on collision by lowering only one shoulder and trying to rip out the ball. It didn't work.

E. Ivory spun out of Moore's tackle attempt and rammed into CB Tracy Porter at the 3. Ivory drove him back and into the end zone for the touchdown. It was the best 15-yard run in a long, long time.

3. Making Sparano look good: Former Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, the Raiders' offensive-line coach, must have been giddy after Marcel Reece's 63-yard touchdown run. It was vintage Sparano, a power run with the right guard pulling. The Raiders blocked it beautifully.

Rex Ryan used a "46" front (think '85 Chicago Bears), meaning eight in the box and linemen over the center and two guards. In theory, it should've been the ideal front to stop a power running play. Ryan didn't name names, but he said the 3-technique lined up a bit wide (it looked like Wilkerson), allowing a double team. Reece had a huge hole. NT Damon Harrison missed a tackle at the point of attack, and that was all she wrote. Reece, unusually fast for a fullback, split S Dawan Landry and CB Antonio Cromartie and was gone.

4. The other lousy defensive play: Eight minutes after Reece's touchdown, the Jets suffered another breakdown, when Cromartie and S Ed Reed collided while defending a slant route. This was a weird play because the Raiders had two receivers in the same area, TE Jeron Mastrud and WR Rod Streater. It looked like QB Matt McGloin was throwing for Mastrud, covered by DB Kyle Wilson.

Reed came flying downhill, looking for his second interception. He ran into Cromartie, who was on Streater. Somehow, the ball got through Mastrud and the collision, finding Streater, who ran 48 yards for the touchdown. You can call it a fluke play, but it also showed a lack of familiarity between Reed and Cromartie.

5. Dee-licious: Embattled rookie CB Dee Milliner played perhaps his best game of the season. He was targeted three times and didn't allow a single completion. Interesingly, the Raiders seemed to be picking on Cromartie, who was targeted seven times. He allowed four completions for 97 yards, including a touchdown.

6. Solid pass pro: The Jets did a nice job of handling the Raiders' blitz. They came into the game as one of the heaviest blitzing teams in the league, and they didn't disappoint. Unofficially, they sent five or more rushers on 23 of 29 dropbacks. Smith was sacked only once (Ivory missed a block in blitz-pick up), although he was hit six times.

For the most part, Smith kept his poise, completing 12 of 21 for 132 yards, one interception and one sack against added pressure.

7. Odds and ends: Two of Smith's best completions (30 and 16 yards) came with three tight ends on the field. On the 30-yarder to Winslow, Smith rolled to the right after a heavy run-action to the left. The entire offensive line pulled left, but the Raiders didn't bite on the fake, leaving the five linemen standing by themselves on the opposite side of the field. Kind of funny on the all-22 tape. ... Rookie LG Brian Winters struggled with his run blocking, allowing two tackles behind the line for minus-8 yards. ... Santonio Holmes should've made that catch in the end zone. ... Credit LB Quinton Coples with some outside pressure on Reed's interception. ... Blocks of the day: As I mentioned earlier, Ivory crushed Moore on a blitz. Later, on a well-executed screen pass, RG Willie Colon blew up DT Vance Walker with an open-field block. Ryan highlighted both plays in his "Play Like a Jet" film session Monday.

Film review: Downhill from the first play

December, 3, 2013
12/03/13
5:30
PM ET
One last look back at the New York Jets' 23-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins:

The Jets ran 54 plays in the game, and the vast majority were pretty lousy. It would take too long to list all the breakdowns, so we'll start by focusing on one play -- the first one. It ended with a sack, a demoralizing way for a slumping offense to begin a game. Talk about a bad omen. We picked this play because it illustrates many of the ongoing problems on offense.

For a change, coordinator Marty Mornhinweg went into the game with an aggressive approach, looking to throw deep out of the box. Have to like that, right? Unfortunately for the Jets, it all crumbled in less than four seconds, a concern on many levels. Here's what went wrong:

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
AP Photo/Bill KostrounThe Jets beefed up their pass protection Sunday against the Dolphins, and still allowed four sacks.
A. Poor pass protection: QB Geno Smith had three pass rushers in his face -- DE Olivier Vernon (he beat LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson), DT Randy Starks (beat LG Brian Winters) and LB Philip Wheeler (unblocked).

B. Miscommunication: FB Tommy Bohanon chipped Wheeler before running a pass route into the left flat. After absorbing the block, Wheeler proceeded on his merry way, straight up the middle. No one picked him up. With a six-man protection, that shouldn't have been an issue, especially against a five-man rush. RB Bilal Powell, too, leaked out of the backfield. It's possible he was supposed to stay home to block.

C. Wrong receiver: The coaches knew Santonio Holmes wasn't 100 percent because of a balky hamstring, which he aggravated last week in practice, yet they sent him on an 18-yard vertical route on the first play. Clearly, he lacked his usual burst. It would be his final pass route of the day.

D. Bad field vision: Smith looked at Holmes the entire time, never looking to Bohanon, who was wide open in the flat. He didn't have enough time to get the ball to Holmes (3.7 seconds from snap to sack), but he could've thrown it to Bohanon. Instead, he succumbed to the pressure, ducking into the pass rush. Wheeler and Vernon combined for the sack.

One play, so many problems. Welcome to the Jets' offense.

Other takeaways after reviewing the tape ...

1. Geno's second-quarter interception. The Dolphins did a nice job of disguising, and it fooled the rookie quarterback. They put seven at the line of scrimmage, with linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Wheeler lined up in the A gaps. It looked like a double A-gap blitz, but Ellerbe and Wheeler never rushed. The Dolphins rushed five others, including a safety. The Jets blocked it nicely, giving Smith time in the pocket.

In his pre-snap read, Smith noticed Greg Salas uncovered in the slot and a two-deep safety look. He probably thought the Dolphins were in Cover 2, meaning there would be a soft spot in the middle for Salas on a deep seam. Just before the snap, Ellerbe glanced quickly toward Salas, a barely discernible tipping of his intentions. On the snap, the Dolphins rotated out of the Cover 2 look, leaving Ellerbe in man-to-man coverage with Salas, with a safety over the top. The 245-pound linebacker ran stride-for-stride with Salas, giving Smith no window for a pass. He threw it anyway -- his last pass of the day, as it turned out.

This was a well-executed play by the Miami defense, a great individual effort by Ellerbe and a poor decision by Smith.

2. Live and die by the blitz: The Jets' best defensive play came on a blitz. Their worst play came on a blitz.

In the second quarter, they rushed six, including safeties Ed Reed and Dawan Landry. DE Muhammad Wilkerson beat his man and clobbered QB Ryan Tannehill as he released the ball, forcing a bloop pass in the direction of Mike Wallace. CB Antonio Cromartie boxed him out, basketball-style, and made a nice interception.

In the third quarter, Rex Ryan decided to get aggressive on a second-and-8 on the Jets' 28-yard line, sending seven rushers. That included linebackers David Harris and Demario Davis, who came on a double A-gap blitz. The Jets played zero coverage, meaning no deep safety. It was man-to-man coverage across the board. This time, the Dolphins blocked it and Tannehill calmly tossed a short pass to Wallace, who broke a feeble tackle attempt by cornerback Dee Milliner and raced to the end zone.

3. Serious problem at left guard: Winters continued to struggle in pass protection; the rookie was involved in three of the four sacks. He didn't surrender the sack on the Jets' first play, but he allowed pressure that factored into the play. Later, he was responsible for two sacks by Vernon. Clearly, the Dolphins targeted Winters, lining up Vernon over him on some occasions.

4. Looking for Ed: Reed has received a lot of criticism for his performance, and deservedly so. The play that drew the most attention was his missed tackle on Brian Hartline's 31-yard touchdown -- one of the few plays in which Reed was near the ball. For the most part, Reed appeared reluctant to engage in contact. Look, we all know he's not going to the Hall of Fame because of his tackling ability -- he's no Ronnie Lott -- but at least make an effort. I watched every play on the All-22 tape, and I noticed only two plays in which he was involved in hard contact, both on runs by Lamar Miller.

5. Added security: Trying to beef up the pass protection, the Jets used more six-, seven- and eight-man protections than usual -- and they still allowed four sacks, which is alarming. The downside to the strategy is that, even when the quarterback has time, he has fewer options. When a receiver gets open, you have to hit him. Smith wasted a great opportunity on the first series, overthrowing a wide-open David Nelson. It was a seven-man protection, affording Smith all the time he needed to make at least a 30-yard play.

6. Rex tweaks defense: Burned by too many long balls, Ryan took a more conservative approach in the secondary, using more two-deep looks than usual. Tannehill wasn't able to throw any balls over the top, but he found soft spots with passes over the short middle. It also probably explains why the Dolphins ran for 125 yards.

7. Odds and ends: It was a rough day for Davis, who missed a tackle on Hartline's touchdown and allowed six completions (seven targets) for 83 yards, according to ProFootballFocus.com ... RT Austin Howard played well against DE Cameron Wake, who was held to no sacks and one solo tackle. ... It went unnoticed because it happened on a sack play, but RB Chris Ivory rag-dolled Wake while pass-blocking. ... The Jets' best chance to score a touchdown turned into a disaster. On a third down from the 2, Ivory had no chance against a nine-man box. Next, Ryan made a bad decision, opting for a field goal. Down 13-0 late in the third quarter, they needed seven points, not three.

Film Review: Geno's sad stories

November, 19, 2013
11/19/13
4:45
PM ET
Peyton Manning likes to say that every interception has a story. In that case, Geno Smith has enough material to rival "War and Peace."

Smith has 16 interceptions, the same number Mark Sanchez had in his first 10 rookie starts. Smith added to his total in Sunday's 37-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills, perhaps jeopardizing his job. A breakdown of his three interceptions, each one with its own story:

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
Rick Stewart/Getty ImagesGeno Smith's three interceptions Sunday were largely his own doing.
1. Second quarter, second-and-13, Jets' 12-yard line: Smith simply misread the defense. The Bills played a single-high safety most of the game and, sure enough, there was Jairus Byrd in the deep middle. He didn't try to bait Smith, he simply stood his ground. A review of the all-22 tape reveals that Byrd didn't move an inch from the snap until the ball was released. Tight end Jeff Cumberland ran a deep over route directly in front of Byrd. For a safety, this is like having someone knock at your door and hand you a winning lottery ticket. Byrd came up a few steps, but only after the ball was released. The Bills rushed five, but the protection was good. Time wasn't an issue for Smith, who kept his eyes glued to Cumberland -- an easy pick for Byrd. Smith should've thrown to wide receiver David Nelson, who was open on a shallow cross.

2. Third quarter, second-and-13, Jets' 17-yard line: Smith may have been confused by a disguised coverage. Cornerback Nickell Robey went in motion with receiver Stephen Hill, usually a tip-off that it's man-to-man coverage -- except the Bills dropped into a zone. It looked like deep thirds, with Byrd -- yes, him again -- in the middle. Smith looked for receiver Santonio Holmes on an 18-yard in-cut. This time, Byrd read Smith's eyes and abandoned his deep middle, sprinting toward Holmes. Smith, under no pressure, threw it a split-second too late, giving Byrd the time he needed to make the interception. This, too, was on Smith. You can't blame a lack of pass protection.

3. Third quarter, second-and-10, Jets' 36-yard line: This was the most damaging of the three because it was a pick-six for safety Da'Norris Searcy. It was a bad throw by Smith, but I'm going to give some credit to the defense here. This play highlighted the chess match between Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. The Bills had seven at the line of scrimmage, showing blitz. It looked like an overloaded blitz to Smith's left, which had been successful early in the game. Mornhinweg had the perfect call, a quick-screen left to Holmes -- or so it seemed. As it turned out, the Bills rushed only four, with three on the line -- including Searcy -- dropping into coverage. The Bills acted like they knew the call. Searcy read it perfectly, positioning himself in the throwing lane between Smith and Holmes. No one bit on the play fake to running back Bilal Powell. Searcy made a terrific catch and took it to the house.

End of story. Make that stories. It's always plural with Smith.

Tale of two games: In the first meeting, the Jets protected Smith like the queen's jewels -- no sacks and only two hits. In this game, it was four sacks and eight hits. The offensive line, with the exception of left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, did a poor job. The Bills brought the heat, sending five or more rushers on 16 of 27 dropbacks by Smith, according to ESPN Stats & Information. On those plays, Smith was only 4-for-12, including two interceptions and four sacks. Clearly, Pettine wasn't worried about Smith beating the blitz. Unlike the previous meeting, the Bills' secondary was intact and they smothered the Jets' wideouts in man-to-man.

This was a particularly rough day for rookie left guard Brian Winters, who allowed one sack, one hit and one pressure, by my count. He was beaten badly by defensive tackle Kyle Williams on a strip-sack in the second quarter, arguably the biggest defensive play of the game. Winters also missed a block on a goal-line shovel pass that should've been an easy touchdown. Right guard Willie Colon (one sack, one pressure) had an off day, as did right tackle Austin Howard (two QB hits). Howard allowed the crushing hit on the fourth play of the game, the one where defensive tackle Marcell Dareus blasted Smith.

Pettine used some of the stuff he learned from Rex Ryan. In the second quarter, Byrd was unblocked on an overload blitz -- four players rushing from one side, only one on the other. This was straight from the Ryan handbook. In the third quarter, Pettine dialed up the same blitz. This time, the Jets blocked it up, with Powell picking up the blitzing safety. Ah, but another problem developed. They would've had a first down, but Hill dropped Smith's pass. That's what happens when you're struggling on offense. If it's not one thing, it's another.

Deep thoughts: The problems continued for the defense on long passes. Three completions proved costly.

On the 34-yard touchdown to T.J. Graham, Ryan gambled and lost. He sent Ed Reed on a safety blitz for the first time, leaving "zero" coverage on the back end -- no deep safety. Graham adjusted to an underthrown pass that caught in the wind, beating cornerback Dee Milliner. Ryan, fiercely protective of Milliner, said the rookie was in "great position" to make a play, but committed a technical faux pas -- a zone turn instead of a man turn. As a result, he lost sight of the receiver.

In the third quarter, Milliner was beat for 40 yards by Graham in a man-to-man situation. Milliner missed his jam at the line, giving Graham a free release. Dawan Landry, not Reed, was the deep safety, but he was nowhere close to the play. On Marquise Goodwin's 43-yard touchdown, cornerback Antonio Cromartie played it properly, according to Ryan. It was "bail" coverage. Cromartie bailed at the line, creating the cushion, but he couldn't keep up with Goodwin, who has world-class speed. The Jets rushed five, but EJ Manuel delivered the ball in less than three seconds. Reed, in the deep middle, arrived late from the opposite hash.

Odds and ends: The pass rush was nowhere to be found. The Jets had only one sack; in their Week 3 meeting they sacked Manuel eight times. ... Smith actually completed three of his first four passes, meaning he went 5-for-19 after that. ... Curious play calling by Mornhinweg in the third quarter. After closing to within 20-7, they went three-and-out with three straight passes. ... Funny moment in the third quarter. The Jets tried a pick play with Holmes and Nelson, and they both ended up falling down. ... Even thought it was garbage time, the Bills didn't go soft against quarterback Matt Simms. They continued to send five-man rushes. Why not? The Jets' receiving corps doesn't scare anybody.

Film review: Rex outsmarts Payton, Brees

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
3:30
PM ET
One last look back at the New York Jets' 26-20 upset of the New Orleans Saints:

Rex outsmarts Payton: The game was billed as Ryan vs. Ryan, but it never was going to be Rex against Rob, the Saints' defensive coordinator. It was really a chess match between Rex and Saints coach Sean Payton, one of the brightest offensive minds in the game. The outcome: Checkmate, Ryan.

Drew Brees put up his fantasy numbers, throwing for 382 yards (the most against the Jets in the Ryan era), but he was rattled at key moments in the game. He was confused by the Jets' different looks, forcing him into rare mistakes -- taking two delay penalties and burning three timeouts in the first quarter. On the first timeout, he was befuddled by a 2-4-5 alignment. When he came out of the timeout, it was a 3-3-5 look by the Jets -- and a delay of game penalty.

This wasn't a blitz-heavy game plan by Ryan. In fact, the Jets sent five or more rushers on only 19 percent of Brees' 53 dropbacks, slightly below their average. They didn't have to blitz because Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples overmatched the Saints offensive line.

[+] EnlargeMuhammad Wilkerson
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsThe Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson was able to put steady pressure on Saints quarterback Drew Brees this past Sunday.
After watching the tape, I noticed a clever wrinkle: On some passing plays, the Jets used a defensive lineman in a spy-type role. Instead of rushing, a lineman peeled back and hovered around the line of scrimmage, reading Brees' eyes. Coples said afterward that the game plan was to obstruct the B gaps, meaning the guard-tackle gaps. In their scouting report, they noted how Brees -- listed generously at 6-foot -- liked to throw through the B gaps instead of the middle. I think the Jets used a defensive lineman as a roving shot blocker, hoping to deflect the ball or at least block his vision. This was a big point of emphasis in practice, as the coaches were constantly on the pass-rushers to get their arms up against the "5-foot-10 quarterback," as they referred to him.

On Brees' first of two interceptions, Coples was the rover, lurking behind a three-man rush. At the last second, he rushed, getting one of his long arms in Brees' face as he released the ball, which was intercepted by Demario Davis after an on-ball deflection by S Dawan Landry -- a great play all around. Other times, I saw NT Kenrick Ellis and DT Sheldon Richardson peeling back instead of rushing.

Two impressive sequences jumped out. In the third quarter, they sacked Brees on back-to-back plays. How often does that happen? Wilkerson split a double-team for the first sack. On the second, Brees tried a quick count, but he outsmarted himself because TE Jimmy Graham was isolated on LB Calvin Pace. Graham is a great receiver, but he doesn't do blocking. Pace beat him cleanly for a sack.

The second impressive sequence occurred at the end of the game. Brees had the ball at his 19, with 1:58 on the clock. He has made a career of game-winning drives. Not this time. He threw four straight incompletions, one uglier than the next. On first down, the Jets had one down lineman and five others standing at the line. It looked like a blitz, but it was a ruse because they rushed two and dropped nine, including Coples, who lurked in the spy role. CB Antonio Cromartie was a safety on this play, another wrinkle.

Overall, it was a brilliant game plan by Ryan.

The art of deception: Obviously, the Jets were committed to running the ball, hoping to exploit a defense that had allowed a league-high 4.8 yard per carry. Here is an amazing stat: QB Geno Smith passed for only one yard in the first quarter and none in the fourth.

Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg did a fantastic job of using the read-option to exploit the Saints' aggressive front seven, which tends to over-pursue. On Chris Ivory's 27-yard run in the first quarter, they used the read option out of the Pistol formation. OLB Parys Haralson, influenced by the option, over-ran the play, leaving a gaping hole for Ivory.

On Josh Cribbs' 25-yard pass in the second quarter, the Jets ran a triple-option type play out of the Wildcat. Cribbs took the direct snap, faked to Bilal Powell and sprinted right with a run-pass option. He threw a dart to TE Zach Sudfeld, the Jets' best pass of the day.

I loved the two touchdown runs at the end of the second quarter. It was a great set-up by Mornhinweg, who used virtual mirror-image plays to outfox the Saints. On Ivory's three-yard scoring run, they were in shotgun, with Ivory to Smith's left -- the strong side, along with the tight end (Sudfeld) and two receivers (Stephen Hill and David Nelson). They ran a weakside play, with Ivory blasting off right tackle, behind key blocks by RG Willie Colon and RT Austin Howard.

After Cromartie's interception, the Jets got the ball back in almost an identical situation -- ball at the 3. They used the same personnel package, except they flipped the formation. Ivory went to the right of Smith, along with two receivers (Nelson and Greg Salas). The Saints probably were thinking it was a run to the left. It sure looked like as they ran Ivory to the left on a play-action. LBs David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton bit hard on the fake. Smith used the read-option. He pulled the ball out of Ivory's belly and kept it himself, putting a nice, open-field move on DE Cameron Jordan for the touchdown. Actually, Jordan read it well, but he was faked by Smith and had no back up because Hawthorne and Lofton were out of position.

The Jets finished with 198 rushing yards. Ivory got the headlines, but the coaches did a nice job of exploiting the weaknesses in the Saints' run defense.

Geno's signature moment: The play that had people buzzing at One Jets Drive was a 6-yard scramble by Smith at the start of the third quarter. It wasn't enough for a first down -- it was a third-and-10 play -- but it got them into field goal range, as Smith avoided a big loss.

DE Tom Johnson blew past LG Brian Winters and had a clean shot at Smith, who eluded him with a nifty step-back move. Smith took off and gained six valuable yards, allowing the Jets to take a 23-14 lead after the field goal.

Odds and ends: Winters made a key block in the second quarter, pulling to the right on Ivory's 52-yard yard. Winters got a piece of Lofton, who ended up missing the tackle in the hole. Sudfeld, not known for his blocking, delivered a key block as well. Hill, invisible in the passing game, made a nice downfield block. ... There was confusion on Graham's 51-yard TD reception. S Jaiquawn Jarrett raised both arms before the snap, as if to say, "What do I do?" He ended up getting torched on a double move. ... I have no idea what Ryan was thinking on the Jets' final possession. They got the ball on downs at the Saints' 9, with 1:21 to play. The Saints had one timeout left. Three kneel-downs and it was over, but the Jets ran two plays and called a timeout before having Smith take a knee. What was the point of risking a fumble? Made no sense.

Film review: Pacman stretches the truth

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
12:30
PM ET
Unlike the New York Jets, I watched the tape of the 49-9 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. A few thoughts and observations:

Pacman Jones is full of it: Bengals cornerback Adam Jones accused WR David Nelson of dirty play, saying he used cut blocks after plays were over. Jones said there were "three real cheap shots after the play." He believes Nelson should be fined for those three plays.

[+] EnlargeDavid Nelson
Mark Zerof/USA TODAY SportsBengals cornerback Adam Jones tackles New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson during their Week 8 game at Paul Brown Stadium.
Jones is stretching the truth.

I studied every play on the coaches' tape, which shows all 22 players, and the game unfolded exactly the way Nelson said it did: He used one cut-block on Jones (no penalty). There was also the unnecessary-roughness penalty on Nelson, which I thought was a borderline call. If anything, Jones sparked the tension by head slapping Nelson on a running play late in the second quarter. No one has made mention of that. As Nelson walked to the huddle after blocking downfield, he received a slap from behind by Jones. There was no penalty. Based on what was visible on tape, this was the first sign of trouble.

Midway through the third quarter, Nelson cut Jones away from the ball on a third-and-1 run by Bilal Powell. There was no flag, but Jones clearly didn't like it. Powell was tackled on the right hashmark. Nelson took down Jones about eight yards away, just inside the painted number on the left side. Powell already was down, but Nelson didn't see that because his back was to the play. I could see why Jones was angry, but Nelson was merely carrying out his assignment.

Nelson was flagged on the final play of the third quarter, a four-yard run by Powell. Nelson and Jones were running shoulder to shoulder toward the play, and Nelson lowered his left shoulder into Jones, who went flying -- a bit of a sell job, in my opinion. Jones got the call, though, and immediately started jawing with the Jets' sideline. That's probably when he told Nelson he was going to find out where he lives and come for him, typical in-game trash talk that was blown out of proportion.

Bottom line: Nelson isn't the cheap-shot artist that Jones made him out to be. In 36 career games, Nelson has been penalized only three times. Previously, he was flagged for an illegal shift and pass interference, both in 2011 with the Buffalo Bills.

Combo platter: Rex Ryan said the defensive game plan revolved around using four-man rushes, allowing them to drop seven into coverage against the Bengals' many receiving options. Obviously, the result was disastrous, but after breaking down the tape, it looks like Ryan called more pressure schemes than he let on. Unofficially, the Jets sent more than four rushers on 11 of 28 dropbacks by Andy Dalton (not counting three quick screens), a percentage not far off their usual amount.

Ryan was right about one thing: Nothing worked. They got beat every which way, whether it was a three-man rush or a six-man rush. Consider the grisly numbers by Dalton:

Three-man rushes: 2-for-2, 23 yards, two TDs.

Four-man rushes: 9-for-14, 184 yards, one TD, one interception, one sack.

Five-man rushes: 3-for-4, 63 yards, one TD.

Six-man rushes: 3-for-7, 46 yards, one TD.

Basically, it was a Murphy's Law kind of day.

Mo and Cro: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, commenting on the lack of a pass rush (one cheap sack), suggested the cornerbacks needed to do a better job of holding up receivers at the line of scrimmage. He's right, but there's more to the story. Dalton took several deep shots downfield, meaning there were legitimate opportunities for the pass rush to get home. On the two longest pass plays, a pair of 53-yarders to A.J. Green, it was a combination of both.

CB Antonio Cromartie, continuing his disappointing season, gave a 10-yard cushion at the line of scrimmage. Green was into the secondary in no time, and a four-man rush failed to pressure Dalton. On the other 53-yarder, the Jets rushed four (including S Dawan Landry), dropping seven into zone coverage. Once again, Cromartie gave a huge cushion. Green blew past him and CB Kyle Wilson to make the catch on an underthrown ball. Dalton needed only 3.0 seconds to unload the pass, and he was hit by Wilkerson on the release, so it's hard to blame the pass rush there.

This is hard to quantify, but it certainly seems like Ryan, known for his aggressive, man-to-man coverage schemes, is playing more zone (or more "off" man) than usual. Maybe he's taking a conservative approach because he doesn't trust his corners in press man.

Can't keep up with the Jones: The Dalton-Marvin Jones tandem was scalding hot. Dalton was 8-for-8 when he targeted Jones, resulting in four touchdowns and 15.3 yards per attempt, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Dalton was only 11-for-22, with one TD and a 9.2 average when targeting other receivers. Maybe the Jets should've doubled Jones.

Geno and pick-sixes: QB Geno Smith took the blame for his two interceptions, but I'm not sure the first one was his fault. Jeremy Kerley was listed as the intended receiver, but there appeared to be a miscommunication. Kerley and Nelson ran out routes in the same area, Nelson slightly deeper. Smith's throw looked to be headed for Nelson, who was open, but CB Chris Crocker -- covering Kerley -- stuck out his left arm and plucked the ball out of the air for a terrific interception. I'm not sure if it had an affect on Smith, but LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson got knocked on his rear end by DE Michael Johnson.

The second pick-six was Smith's fault. He looked for TE Zach Sudfeld on a skinny post, but he wasn't open against the Bengals' Cover-2 look. Smith went to Nelson in the left flat, but Jones read it beautifully and took it to the house. Cardinal rule of quarterbacking: Never throw late to the outside.

Ge-NO!: This was an unusual game for Smith in that he averaged only 4.9 air yards per attempt, his lowest of the season, per ESPN Stats & Info. He joined Matt Schaub, Chad Henne, Christian Ponder, Brandon Weeden and Eli Manning (twice) as the only quarterbacks to throw multiple interceptions on throws of five yards or less in a game. Those quarterbacks were 0-7 in those games.

Film review: Coples' busy right arm

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
7:15
PM ET
One last look at the New York Jets' 30-27 OT win over the New England Patriots:

Quinton Coples' right arm became a talked about body part Tuesday, with speculation swirling (thanks to Bill Belichick) that he used it to push teammate Muhammad Wilkerson into the Patriots' field goal formation. By now, you know that's a no-no. Alleged push aside, Coples' right arm may have been the difference in the game.

[+] EnlargeQuinton Coples
AP Photo/Kathy WillensQuinton Coples made several critical plays in the Jets' overtime win over the Patriots.
It's the arm he used to strip the ball from QB Tom Brady on the first play of the third quarter, beating LT Nate Solder. On the next play, the biggest play of the game, Coples used that long arm (33 1/4 inches) to get a hand in Brady's face just as he released a pass to TE Rob Gronkowski. Coples may have distracted Brady just enough to force an off-target pass. You know what happened next. Safety Antonio Allen undercut the route, made the interception and returned it for a touchdown.

Allen deserved all the credit he received for his game-changing play, but it was Coples who made that sequence possible. His first-down sack put the Patriots in a second-and-16 situation. They went with three receivers. The Jets one-upped them, going with six defensive backs in a 4-1-6 alignment. It was a theme all day for Rex Ryan, who rushed four and dropped seven into coverage. The strategy worked brilliantly on this play, with Coples once again having his way with Solder.

The perfect quarter: The defensive performance in the third quarter was one for the ages. Chew on these numbers: The Patriots ran 11 plays for minus-5 yards and no first downs. The Jets recorded a pick six and two sacks against one of the greatest quarterbacks in history. What can they possibly do for an encore?

Tom Not-So-Terrific: Remember the days when Ryan had to dial up exotic blitzes to get after Brady? Not anymore. Ryan let his big fellas do most of the rushing. In fact, the Jets sent more than four pass-rushers on only six of 50 dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information. There was no need to send extra pressure because they were doing the job with a conventional rush. Against four or fewer rushers, Brady was 2o-for-41, with one interception and three sacks.

"AA" spark plug: Wherever Gronkowski went, Allen went. Gronkowski was targeted a career-high 17 times, and he was covered by Allen on all but three of those. Considering his lack of experience in pass coverage (he was basically a linebacker in college), Allen did an outstanding job, holding Gronkowski to five catches for 67 yards on 14 targets.

Allen caught a break on the Patriots' game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. The Jets sent a six-man rush at Brady with "zero" coverage, meaning no safety in the middle of the field. Gronkowski created separation against Allen, but the throw was high and behind him. Gronkowski almost made a one-handed catch that probably would've gone for a 23-yard touchdown. He was visibly angry with himself on the sideline; he knows he should've caught it.

It was the Jets' only blitz on that drive. Mostly, they stayed conservative with three- and four-man rushes. When they brought the heat, they almost got burned.

Mr. Third Down: WR Jeremy Kerley was a machine, recording six third-down conversions. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg moved him around the formation, making it harder for the Patriots to match up.

Three receptions came out of a bunch formation, two came when he motioned into the slot and one came when he was split left. He beat Kyle Arrington four times, Alfonzo Dennard twice. On two plays, TE Jeff Cumberland ran a "pick" for Kerley, allowing him to find space. In fact, they tried to run Kerley off a Cumberland pick on Geno Smith's 8-yard touchdown run, but he slipped. Two receivers went down, so Smith took off and made a great run.

It was clever stuff all around, along with some great route running by Kerley, who has the best change of direction on the team.

The eyes have it: Geno Smith played a solid game and made good decisions, especially knowing when to tuck it and run. Ah, but there was that one disaster of a play, the pick- six by Logan Ryan. Smith stared down WR David Nelson, who got roughed up at the line of scrimmage. For some reason, Smith didn't go to his next progression. Defensive end Rob Ninkovich beat RT Austin Howard for a pressure, making Smith hurry a throw he never should've made.

What's up with Brick?: LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson usually is one of the most reliable pass protectors in the league, but he allowed two sacks. That brings his total to four, according to Pro Football Focus. In 2012, he quietly had a terrific year (two sacks), but he seems to have regressed. All four sacks Sunday came from the left side of the line, as rookie LG Brian Winters also surrendered two. He'll need to get it together quickly because Cincinnati Bengals stud DT Geno Atkins is up next.

Odds and ends: CB Antonio Cromartie completely blew containment on Stevan Ridley's 17-yard touchdown run. Cromartie got caught in the backfield, leaving an open side for Ridley. Otherwise, I thought Cromartie played well. ... WR Stephen Hill was on the field for 80 plays and caught only one pass. That's not a terribly efficient afternoon. ... Finally, as for Coples' alleged push on Stephen Gostkowski's late field goal: Yes, he gave Wilkerson a one-handed shove from behind, but it didn't appear to be a designed play. Why would they run an illegal play after alerting the officials to watch for the same thing from the Patriots?

Film review: Story behind Geno's ugly INT

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
5:00
PM ET
One last look at the New York Jets' 19-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers:

Smith
The throwaway that wasn't: Rookie QB Geno Smith is taking a lot of heat for his third-quarter interception into triple coverage, but there's more than one side to this story. For one, it wasn't a well-designed play.

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called an "all verticals" pass play, meaning all four receivers went deep. Smith has no safety valve, as RB Chris Ivory stayed home to block. Two of the four receivers were tight ends, and one of them -- the seldom-used Konrad Reuland -- is anything but a pass-receiving threat. TE Jeff Cumberland was Smith's first read on a post route. Initially, it looked like a mismatch, with ILB Vince Williams covering Cumberland. But S Ryan Clark did a nice job with over-the-top coverage on Cumberland. The Steelers were in a two-deep/man-under coverage. They knew what was coming, according to CB William Gay, who shouted to his teammates, "Vertical!"

Smith probably could've done a better job with his eyes, trying to maneuver Clark. Smith gave up on Cumberland and turned to Reuland in the corner. Smith's eyes brought Clark right to the play. It was a heady play by the veteran safety, who peeled off Cumberland and went for Reuland. Smith overthrew Reuland -- he claimed it was an intentional throwaway -- and Clark was backing up for the interception.

So, yes, it was a poor decision and a poor throw by Smith, who should've thrown it into the second row if indeed he was trying to throw it away. But he didn't have a lot of options on the play.

Better pass pro: Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley was chirping after the game, saying how they rattled Smith by hitting him early in the game. Frankly, I think he was exaggerating. Officially, Smith was hit six times, including three sacks.

lastname
Goodson
The biggest hit came from rookie LB Jarvis Jones, who forced Smith into uncorking a flutter ball -- and it was intercepted by LB Lawrence Timmons. RB Mike Goodson did a terrible job of blocking Jones, resorting to the 'ol matador technique. It might have worked on the streets of Pamplona (ask Rex Ryan), but it nearly got his quarterback killed on the football field. As it turned out, Goodson was the one who got hurt, blowing out his knee as he tried to tackle Timmons on the return.

This was a trend in the game. The running backs didn't do a good job with pass protection. Bilal Powell allowed a sack and a pressure that contributed to another sack, and Tommy Bohanon allowed a pressure that led to a sack. The line's pass protection wasn't horrible. Unofficially, RT Austin Howard surrendered a sack and four pressures and RG Willie Colon allowed a sack and two pressures. In both cases, there were mitigating circumstances on the sacks; it wasn't like they were soundly beaten from the get-go.

LeBeau
The Old Master: I'm surprised the Steelers didn't blitz more often, but venerable defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was able to keep Smith off-balance by emphasizing coverage over pressure. Unofficially, he sent five or more rushes on only 10 pass plays. Smith completed 5-of-8 and was sacked twice. Against four-man rushes, he was 10-for-21, including both interceptions.

This proves that a defense doesn't have to heat up a rookie quarterback to force him into a bad day. Smith will see a similar approach Sunday against the New England Patriots, not known as a heavy blitzing team.

Screen game: The Steelers relied heavily on screen passes to the receivers, tight ends and backs. Of Ben Roethlisberger's 30 pass attempts, 11 were screens -- and he completed 10. It didn't amount to a lot of yardage (42), but it succeeded in slowing down the Jets' pass rush. Only one screen went for more than 7 yards, so you can't say the Jets did a bad job of tackling, but it has to be frustrating for the front four. They'd better get used to it, because the Patriots are an excellent screen team.

Odds and ends: Smith threw an inordinate number of passes to the sideline, outside the painted numbers. A couple of thoughts about that: It shows the coaching staff has confidence in his arm strength, because some quarterbacks can't make those throws. It also was an indication that they missed TE Kellen Winslow (suspended) in the middle of the field. ... DE Muhammad Wilkerson looks quicker as a pass-rusher. He put a nice spin move on C Fernando Velasco, resulting in a QB hit. Later, he beat LG Ramon Foster for a sack with a nice swim move. Of course, Wilkerson missed the one that mattered most, letting Roethlisberger escape in the end zone. ... The "That Takes Guts" award goes to CB Isaiah Trufant. Only 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, Trufant threw his body in front of the 6-foot-5, 241-pound Roethlisberger on a scramble near the goal line.

Film Review: Dissecting Geno's mistakes

October, 1, 2013
10/01/13
7:20
PM ET
One last look back at the New York Jets' 38-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans:

Good Geno, Bad Geno: Glimpses of both showed up in the first 13 minutes of the game. Let's start with the bad since it reared its head on the second play, Geno Smith's interception on the throw to Stephen Hill. It seemed fairly straight forward, just an underthrown pass, but there was more to it than that. Smith's first read, I'm told, was Santonio Holmes on a front-side post route. Holmes broke into the clear over the middle, but it was too late. Smith moved off Holmes too quickly, setting his sights on Hill, 27 yards downfield. Smith threw it to the wrong guy. Bad read, bad throw, bad everything. It set a bad tone for the game.

Later in the first quarter, with 2:22 remaining, Smith made one of those plays that makes you think he can be The Guy. On a third-and-10, he hung tough in the pocket and got blasted as he delivered a 25-yard strike to Holmes, who made a diving catch. Late in the game, Smith showed terrific ball placement on a crossing route to Jeff Cumberland, who made the catch and ran most of the way for a 37-yard touchdown. Unfortunately for Smith, the bad plays far outweighed the good ones.

[+] EnlargeKarl Klug, Geno Smith
Jim Brown/USA TODAY SportsKarl Klug and the Tennessee defense made operating tough for Geno Smith this past Sunday.
Interception No. 2: This was another bad decision by Smith. He received nice pass protection on a five-man rush, but he stared down Holmes the entire time, failing to see Kellen Winslow open over the middle. He forced the ball to Holmes, who was blanketed by Alterraun Verner, an emerging talent at cornerback. Verner made his second interception of the day.

Let's not forget the sacks: I'd attribute two of the five sacks to Smith's indecision in the pocket. A quarterback should not be sacked on a screen pass, but Smith let it happen twice, resulting in losses of 14 yards (a near safety) and 14 yards (the Behind-the-Butt Fumble/strip sack/touchdown). On the first one, he was supposed to throw a middle screen to Bilal Powell, but Powell got caught up in the traffic. Smith saw it, but instead of dirting the ball, he retreated.

On the touchdown, the timing of the play was out of sync from the outset, as DT Karl Klug got into Smith's face immediately. Powell was open in the left flat. The play reminded me of the Ziggy Ansah pick-six in the preseason. Unlike Mark Sanchez, Smith ate the ball, trying the ill-advised, behind-the-back maneuver. Bad idea. The result was the same as the Sanchez play -- six points the other way.

Dealing with the blitz: The Jets shouldn't have been surprised by anything they saw from the Titans defense. In the first three games, the Titans sent five or more rushers on 45 percent of the pass plays. Unofficially, they sent extra rushers on 44 percent of the plays against the Jets, who struggled against the five-man rushes in particular -- two interceptions, two sacks. The damning statistic? The Jets allowed four sacks on first down. Not good.

Here's a breakdown of how Smith fared versus the different rushes:

Three man: 3-for-3, 48 yards.

Four-man: 13-for-16, 104 yards, two sacks, two scrambles for 19 yards.

Five-man: 5-for-11, 77 yards, two interceptions, two sacks.

Six-man: 2-for-3, 70 yards, 1 sack.

Eight-man: 0-for-1. (This occurred with the ball at the Jets' 2-yard line. It was a classic jailbreak and, by the whistle, 17 of the 22 players on the field were in the end zone.)

Vlad's Waterloo?: This was the second straight poor performance by LG Vladimir Ducasse, who is on the verge of being replaced by rookie Brian Winters. That change likely will occur this week, according to a source. It might have happened in the preseason, but Winters missed time with an ankle injury. Ducasse played well in Week 2 against the New England Patriots, but he followed with a four-penalty game against the Buffalo Bills. In Nashville, his pass protection was terrible.

Ducasse didn't allow any sacks, per se, but he surrendered pressures that contributed to the Titans' first two sacks. On the first sack, he got caught leaning to his left and was beaten with an inside move by DT Jurrell Casey. On the second sack, Ducasse got turned around -- his back was literally facing the line of scrimmage -- and was beaten by DT Antonio Johnson, who flushed Smith out of the pocket.

By my count, Ducasse allowed three pressures and four QB hits. And, oh yes, he was flagged for a false start and holding (declined).

Odds and ends: The Jets' standing as the No. 1 red zone defense took a hit, as they allowed three touchdowns in four red zone chances. On Delanie Walker's 1-yard touchdown catch, LB David Harris bit hard on a play fake and couldn't get back in time. On Justin Hunter's 16-yard scoring reception at the end of the first half, an absolute killer, the Jets had the perfect call. They used quarters coverage, with a defender on every receiver in the end zone. Problem was, CB Darrin Walls let the rookie beat him in a jump-ball situation.

Film review: QB pressure without blitzing

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
3:24
PM ET
Some observations after reviewing the tape of the Jets' 27-20 win over the Bills:

The Jets controlled the game in several areas, but the most dominant unit was the defensive line. This is a young, talented group with swagger.

"We want to be the best in the league, nothing short of it," rookie DT Sheldon Richardson said Monday. Asked where he sees the line in, say, eight weeks from now, Richardson replied, "We should be doing the same thing we're doing now -- dominating."

What made the eight-sack performance so impressive was that most of the pressure was generated by the line. Rex Ryan didn't have to rely on exotic pressure schemes to rattle rookie QB EJ Manuel; the front four did the trick by itself. Let's take a closer look:

Coples
Seven of the eight sacks came with the four-man rush -- and we're not talking about tricked-up, four-man rushes, either. Five of those seven sacks were accomplished with the usual cast of characters among the rushers, meaning defensive linemen and rush linebackers such as Quinton Coples, Antwan Barnes, Calvin Pace and Garrett McIntyre. They blitzed inside linebackers David Harris and/or DeMario Davis on only two sacks and there were no defensive-back blitzes. Yes, safety Antonio Allen recorded a sack, but he cleaned up from a shallow zone in pass coverage.

I'd say three of them were definite coverage sacks, as Manuel was forced to hold the ball at least 5 seconds. Two of the unsung heroes were Harris (one sack, three tackles for loss) and Coples (two QB hits, one tackle for loss). At times, Harris appeared to be in a "spy" role, lurking behind the rush and mirroring Manuel's movements in the pocket. Coples, in his 2013 debut, applied pressure in certain instances that freed up teammates for sacks.

It's interesting how the defense has evolved over the past couple of years. The back end used to be strong enough to compensate for the lack of a pass rush, but now the front four appears strong enough to camouflage some obvious deficiencies in the secondary.

Smith
Air Geno: Unofficially, Geno Smith was 5-for-7 on passes that traveled 20 or more yards in the air. In fact, the Jets ended up with four pass plays of at least 40 yards, two shy of last season's total. It was exciting, a rare bombs-away attack by the Jets. But let's keep things in perspective. We're not talking about the reincarnation of the "Greatest Show on Turf" here.

The air show resulted from the confluence of a few factors. The Bills' defense, under former Ryan protégé Mike Pettine, played a lot of press-man coverage with a single-high safety, straight out of the Ryan playbook. The problem with that approach is that it doesn't work if you don't have the cornerbacks. Because of injuries, the Bills played with two second-string corners. Pettine never adjusted; he continued to play aggressive man-to-man instead of going conservative. Even the Jets' receiving corps, as maligned as it is, was good enough to win its share of one-on-one matchups -- with the help of terrific pass protection.

It's good that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has enough confidence in Smith to let him sling it, but he's smart enough to take what the defense gives him. Against the Bucs and Patriots, teams that used mostly two-safety looks, the Jets weren't nearly as aggressive down the field. In fact, they had only two pass plays more than 30 yards in the first two games.

Geno's best moment: The 69-yard touchdown to Santonio Holmes garnered the headlines (after all, it was the game-winner), but Smith's best play of the season was his 51-yard scoring strike to Stephen Hill.

Smith was hammered by DT Kyle Williams, who beat LG Vladimir Ducasse with an inside move, as he threw the ball. Smith saw him coming, yet still managed to set his feet and throw an accurate ball to Hill. That's a big-time play. Overshadowed on the play was the role of TE Kellen Winslow. He was chipped by two defenders on his release and held the attention of the safety in the middle of the field long enough to give Hill man-to-man coverage on the outside. The Bills showed a lot of respect to Winslow throughout the game, which helped create opportunities for others.

Odds and ends: Ryan likes to talk about how they're one of the few teams in the league that can use base personnel against three receivers. Well, they got burned on one play, when Allen was matched against WR Stevie Johnson. The result was a 23-yard completion. ... Scott Chandler's 33-yard TD reception is a bit of a mystery. The Jets dropped seven into coverage and forgot to cover the tight end. Pace jammed him at the line and passed him off, but no one picked him up. S Dawan Landry, in the deep middle, cheated to the opposite side and got spun around. If he had been more decisive, they probably would've tackled Chandler around the 10. ... Smith's 8-yard TD run, on a designed play, resulted from nice blocks by G Willie Colon and Winslow. It also was a niece piece of running by Smith, who had two safeties bearing down on him. He split the safeties and plowed into the end zone, with an assist from LB Kiko Alonso, who drilled Smith from behind and pushed him forward.

Film review: Pressure bothered Geno Smith

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
2:45
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Because of the short week, it'll be an abbreviated film review. A look back at some of the key elements from the Jets' 18-17 win over the Bucs:

Smith
Struggles versus pressure: QB Geno Smith was 19-for-28 for 201 yards and a touchdown when facing four or fewers rushers, but his production dripped significantly when the Bucs sent extra pass-rushers. When under pressure, his completion percentage dropped from 80.8 to 25.0, according to ProFootballFocus. The Patriots aren't a big blitzing team, but you have to figure they'll go to school on that.

On Mason Foster's strip sack at the Jets 5, the Bucs rushed six players. The Jets were in position to block it, with a seven-man protection, but LG Vladimir Ducasse couldn't hold off Foster. There were no "hot" receivers in his view, so Smith had to eat it. He has to do a better job of keeping two hands on the ball. Foster had another sack in the second quarter, a loss of 18. The Jets did a horrible job of protecting Smith against a blitz. RB Bilal Powell missed a block. Powell, Ducasse and RG Willie Colon made like bowling pins, falling down as they attempted to block the Bucs' middle stunts. They ended up on top of each other -- not a good look.

Later, Ducasse allowed a pressure/hit on a Smith pass that was nearly intercepted in the end zone by Darrelle Revis. You think Ducasse will have Vince Wilfork lined up over him on Thursday night? You bet. On his interception, an overthrown screen pass to Chris Ivory, Smith was hurried and threw off his back foot.

Geno's first touchdown: Everything clicked on Smith's 7-yard scoring pass to Kellen Winslow. It was a well-designed play by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who deployed Stephen Hill, Ryan Spadola and Winslow in a bunch formation to the left. Winslow ran a pivot route, stopping on a dime and re-directing his route toward the post. The pass protection was terrific. By my stopwatch, Smith had 3.1 seconds from snap to delivery -- a good amount of time.

No Joshing: Rex Ryan cooked up one of his signature pressure schemes, forcing QB Josh Freeman in an interception. The Jets put six men on the line of scrimmage, but rushed only four -- two linemen, plus S Antonio Allen and slot CB Isaiah Trufant. The Bucs had trouble picking it up, and Trufant -- all 5-foot-8 of him -- pressured Freeman into throwing wildly over the middle. It was interepted by S Dawan Landry, who was playing center field.

Ryan tried a similar blitz late in the game, and it backfired. On a third-and-10 from the Bucs 37, the Jets rushed five, including Trufant and Allen. Vincent Jackson was uncovered in the slot and Freeman recognized it immediately, throwing quickly to him. Trufant was caught in no man's land and seemed indecisive, not sure whether to continue his rush or drop into coverage on Jackson. Afterward, Ryan took the blame, saying the call wasn't communicated clearly. Landry came from the deep middle to cover Jackson. It should've been a 10-yard completion, but Landry missed the tackle. Jackson went for 37 yards.

Demario Davis saved the game, running 25 yards and chasing down Jackson at the Jets 26. If it weren't for Davis' touchdown-saving tackle, the Bucs probably would've won, 21-15.

Film review: Anatomy of Ground & Pound

December, 11, 2012
12/11/12
6:14
PM ET
Breaking down the tape of the Jets' 17-10 win over the Jaguars ...

RIGHTY-LEFTY SWITCH: The offense was a joke in the first half, managing zero points and only 94 total yards against the 31st-ranked defense. After halftime, coordinator Tony Sparano made a nice adjustment. Basically, he flipped the running game, from right to left.

In the first half, the Jets called 14 designed runs -- and not one of them went to the left of C Nick Mangold. Every run was either up the middle or to the right of Mangold. In the second half, they ran 11 times to the left, eight times up the middle and six times to the right. In fact, their longest run was a 14-yarder around left end, Shonn Greene on a misdirection play.

The Jets used a few misdirection runs in the second half, starting right and winding back to the left, often running to the open side of the formation. You also saw more pulling linemen, with the guards and tackles getting involved. Heck, even Vladimir Ducasse got out in space and made a nice block. TE Konrad Reuland also contributed in the running game.

The Jets gained 110 yards on the ground in the second half, finishing with 166. They faced a lot of eight-man fronts from the Jaguars, who weren't concerned about getting beat by Mark Sanchez and his depleted receiving corps. That made the rushing total even more impressive.

Here's a "hit" list, a four-quarter breakdown of where they ran:

Left end -- 2 for 16 yards

Left tackle -- 3 for 11 yards

Left guard -- 6 for 36 yards

Center -- 13 for 46 yards, 1 TD

Right guard -- 8 for 30 yards, 1 TD

Right tackle -- 5 for 8 yards

Right end -- 2 for 8 yards

PUTTING MONEY WHERE THEIR (SMASH) MOUTH IS: To say the Jets relied on their tight ends in the running game would be an understatement. By my count, they used multiple tight ends on 30 of 39 designed running plays.

The most frequently used personnel grouping was "12" -- 1 RB/2 TE/2 WR. They ran 17 times for 69 yards (4.1 average) out of that grouping, with extra OT Jason Smith counting as a jumbo-TE. Of course, some of it was out of necessity. When Stephen Hill (knee) went down in the second quarter, they were down to three healthy wideouts, including Mardy Gilyard, whom they signed off the street a couple of weeks ago.

THIRD-DOWN SPECIALISTS: For the second straight week, the Jets' defense dominated third down, holding the Jaguars to 2-for-16. Yeah, it's true, the Jaguars aren't very good, but let's give some credit to a well-designed plan and solid execution.

The Jets gave QB Chad Henne so many different looks that, at times, he looked dizzy. Rookie S Antonio Allen, who came up from the practice squad last week, was deployed as a blitzer in certain packages -- a classic example of Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine finding a niche for a player with a specific skill set.

There were a lot of good defensive calls, but three jumped out:

Second quarter, third-and-5, Jets 45: They put six at the line, but rushed only two -- meaning nine in coverage. Henne threw a swing to RB Jordan Todman, but LBs Calvin Pace and David Harris were there, waiting for him. No gain. It looked like they knew the Jaguars' play call.

Third quarter, third-and-3, Jags 33: They put seven at the line, rushing five. DE Quinton Coples, who had a nice day, dropped into coverage. Henne hurried his throw and hit WR Jordan Shipley for only one yard.

Third quarter, third-and-11, Jags 10: The Jets went to their "Amoeba" defense, with six standing at the line -- but no one in a three-point stance. They rushed five. Henne looked confused. Allen and Coples applied pressure, with Harris dropping Henne for a two-yard sack.

HICCUP NO. 1: It wasn't a perfect day on defense, as the Jets made two big mistakes. On Montell Owens' 32-yard TD run, which came on second-and-17, the Jets used seven DBs vs. 3 WRs -- and they paid the price for having a small lineup on the field. LB Garrett McIntyre got wiped out by two blockers at the point of attack, DB Ellis Lankster couldn't get off his block and Owens was gone -- the first TD in 25 possesions against the Jets' defense.

HICCUP No. 2: This was the Jaguars' fourth-and-15 conversion with 58 seconds to play, which infuriated Ryan. He still was seething after the game. The Jets went to their "Amoeba" front, rushing five -- including safeties Allen and Eric Smith. They played man-to-man coverage underneath, with two deep safeties in zone.

Shipley beat CB Kyle Wilson in the seam, and both safeties -- Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry -- were late to react. The look on Ryan's face said it all; it looked like he had eaten a bad oyster. The breakdown could've cost them the game.

ODDS AND ENDS: LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson was beaten cleanly by DE Jason Babin on an outside rush, resulting in a strip sack ... NT Sione Po'uha made a great play on a third-and-1, standing up the center and stuffing FB Greg Jones for no gain. It looked the old Sione ... Coples leaves his feet almost every time he gets near the QB; he leaves himself vulnerable to pump fakes ... DE Muhammad Wilkerson dominated on a three-and-out in the third quarter, recording two QB hits and a sack ... Crushing block by FB Lex Hilliard on Bilal Powell's four-yard TD run ... The Jaguars really screwed up their final play. They allowed pressure on a three-man rush (Coples blew past LT Eugene Monroe) and there was a miscommunication between Henne and WR Kevin Elliott. The result was an easy pick for DB Ellis Lankster.

Film review: Breaking down Big Mac

December, 4, 2012
12/04/12
12:35
PM ET


The story of the game, of course, was QB Greg McElroy, so let's take an in-depth look at how he was able to succeed in his NFL debut.

Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano did a nice job of calling high-percentage plays that maximized McElroy's ballhandling ability while also exploiting the aggressiveness of the Cardinals' defensive front. A few trends developed:

1. Misdirection: The Jets burned the Cards with clever misdirection runs. It allowed them to create holes against eight-man fronts. With McElroy at QB, they ran five misdirection plays for 34 yards, including 17- and 10-yard gains by Bilal Powell. If fact, they were the exact same play. It was '22' personnel (2 RBs/2 TEs/1 WR) in the I-formation.

On both plays, RG Brandon Moore pulled to the right and delivered a kick-out block. The run-action flowed to the left, but FB Lex Hilliard and Powell swerved to the right, with Hilliard delivering a lead block on LB Paris Lenon -- both times.

2. Moving pocket: McElroy isn't known as a mobile quarterback, but they ran three bootlegs -- two runs for seven yards and a one-yard TD pass to TE Jeff Cumberland. Why put McElroy on the move? Two reasons: Obviously, it made it harder for the Cards' pass rush to track him down. Also, it made it easier for McElroy to read the defense. It cut the field in half, reducing the number of reads -- the right call with such an inexperienced quarterback.

3. Safe passes: McElroy threw only one pass more than 20 yards -- his first attempt, an overthrow to WR Stephen Hill. The rest of his throws were underneath stuff. Naturally, the best pass was a game-clinching, third-down strike to WR Jeremy Kerley on the final drive. CB Patrick Peterson, already one of the best in the business, had man-to-man coverage. But McElroy threw a well-timed, back-shoulder fade for 13 yards. Kerley made a sensational, one-handed catch. McElroy completed five of seven for 29 yards.

4. Lots of tight ends: Sparano didn't expose McElroy to many open formations. In fact, they used 2+ tight ends on 22 of 27 plays (not counting two kneel-downs at the end of the game), occasionally using Cumberland and Konrad Reuland in the backfield. Backup OT Jason Smith also was heavily involved as a jumbo TE. Rex Ryan commended Smith for playing one of his best games as a Jet. You'll see a lot of these heavy packages if they decide to stick with McElroy.

In four possessions, the McElroy-led offense produced 150 total yards on 29 plays -- a 5.2 average. In 45 plays with Mark Sanchez, the offense generated 139 yards -- a 3.1 average. The question is whether McElroy can sustain it over four quarters. Obviously, the next opponent -- the Jaguars -- will be prepared for him.

UGLY OR BEAUTIFUL?: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Many observers called this one of the ugliest games they'd ever seen. Rex Ryan, a defensive-minded coach, called it "beautiful." It was dominant, that's for sure. Consider:

• The Jets held the Cards to 0-for-15 on third down. They became the first team in modern history to take an O-fer on 15 third-down plays, according to Elias.

• Not counting the 40-yard run on a fake punt, the Jets held the Cards to 97 total yards on 54 plays from scrimmage -- a 1.8 average. That's positively mind boggling.

• Cards QB Ryan Lindley, who displayed Nuke Laloosh accuracy (for you "Bull Durham" fans out there), completed only 10 of 31 passes. It was the worst completion percentage by a Cards QB (minimum 30 attempts) since Jim Hart in 1977, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

HEADY PLAY: It was overshadowed amid all the QB hysteria, but RB Shonn Greene made a smart play by taking a knee at the Cards' 1 on the first play after the two-minute warning. No doubt, Fantasy owners were fuming (and gamblers, too). But if Greene had scored, the Jets would've led, 14-6 -- a one-possession game. The Cards would've had a chance to tie the game. It would've been tough, with no timeouts and a scatter-armed quarterback, but with the Jets' luck, you never know what might have happened.

ODDS AND ENDS: Give credit to CB Antonio Cromartie for shutting down one of the best WRs in the game, Larry Fitzgerald, who was held to one catch on seven targets. But I think Lindley was just as responsible for shutting him down ... P Robert Malone (42.3 net average) was terrific. The Jets held Peterson, one of the most dangerous punt returners in the league, to nine yards on one return. Malone, a nice pickup at the end of the preseason, has solidified the punting position. Give credit to assistant GM Scott Cohen and the pro-personnel department for pouncing on Malone as soon as he was cut by the Chargers.

Film review: 'Un-bleeping-believable!'

November, 24, 2012
11/24/12
6:53
PM ET
For the second straight year, the Jets' season unraveled in sudden, dramatic and whiplash-inducing fashion. They've mastered the art of the quick crash and burn.

A year ago, it was one play and 15 seconds -- Victor Cruz's 99-yard touchdown in the next-to-last game. It ruined the Jets and launched the Giants on their Super Bowl march.

This time, it was three plays -- all touchdowns -- in 52 seconds, only the third time in modern NFL history that a team (the Patriots) scored three touchdowns in less than a minute.

[+] EnlargeShane Vereen
AP Photo/Julio CortezShane Vereen had clear sailing on his 83-yard TD.
You've heard of the minute waltz? This was the minute faults, with three colossal blunders: one on offense, one on defense and one on special teams. At least they went down as a team. Individually, they're the kind of plays that happen maybe once a year. That they happened in 52 seconds defied the laws of probability.

It collapse actually started with Shonn Greene getting stuffed (and fumbling) on fourth-and-1. From that play to Julian Edelman's 22-yard fumble return for a touchdown on a Jets kickoff, the Jets' win probability dropped 33 percent in 113 seconds, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- from 34.8 percent to 1.8 percent.

By scoring 21 points in 52 seconds, the Patriots eclipsed the Jets' point total in six games. By scoring 35 points in the second quarter, the Patriots surpassed the Jets' total in all but two games.

The Jets allowed 27 touchdowns in their first 41 quarters of the season. In the 42nd quarter, they surrendered five. That 42nd quarter always is a killer.

This was the anti-Miracle at the Meadowlands. That night in 2000, the Jets scored 30 points in the fourth quarter. And you thought that was amazing.

How did the 52-second collapse happen? A lot of it was the Jets' own doing -- a mental error by QB Mark Sanchez and a miscommunication on defense. On the last two touchdowns, the Patriots had a player in the right spot at the right time. That happens to good teams. The bad teams try to rationalize it by saying it was bad luck.

A closer look at the plays that doomed the Jets' season:

Greene's fourth-down fiasco: This didn't occur during the 52 seconds from hell, but we'll include it because it set the tone. On a fourth-and-1 from the Patriots' 31, the Jets decided to go for it. The percentages were in the Jets' favor, as they entered the game as the best short-yardage rushing team in the league -- an 88.9-percent conversion rate, according to ESPN Stats.

They loaded up with three TEs and two RBs, and they actually blocked it well, moving mammoth NT Vince Wilfork out of the hole. It came down to a one-on-one blocking situation -- FB Lex Hilliard vs. LB Jerod Mayo, who defeated the block and made a terrific tackle in the hole. For dramatic effect, Greene -- in a wet-bar-of-soap moment -- fumbled the ball forward 12 yards.

Tom Brady's 83-yard TD pass to Shane Vereen: The Jets failed to cover Vereen on a basic wheel route out of the backfield. They rushed four and appeared to be in a Cover-3 zone. LB Bart Scott got caught up inside, picked by WR Wes Welker, and couldn't get to the sideline in time. Rex Ryan seemed to exonerate Scott, calling it a communication breakdown, not the fault of one player.

Based on Antonio Cromartie's postgame explanation, it sounds like a communication error in the secondary caused the breakdown. He said they put Scott "in a bad position." The bottom line is, the Jets allowed a basic play, which should've gained 10 or 15 yards, go for 83 -- the longest play against them this season.

Steve Gregory's 32-yard fumble return: This is better known as the Butt Fumble. It never would've happened if Sanchez had remembered the play. It was a misdirection play, with Greene -- the tailback -- running wide left on a pitch action, with Hilliard -- the up-back -- taking a quick-hitting handoff and plowing into the line. But the play was aborted when Sanchez turned out to his left instead of the right.

What occurred next will be remembered for generations. Sanchez did the right thing; he tucked the ball and started to scramble. He actually had some daylight on the outside shoulder of RG Brandon Moore, but for some reason Sanchez ran up Moore's back. In slapstick fashion, his feet slipped out from under him and his face went directly into Moore's backside. Sanchez was hit with such force that he coughed up the ball.

NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth did a fantastic job on the telecast, but I thought he gave way too much credit to Wilfork. He said Wilfork overwhelmed Moore to blow up the play, but I thought Moore played him to a standoff. Even Patriots coach Bill Belichick admitted his team didn't do anything special on the play, calling it for what it was -- a mistake by Sanchez. It was two mistakes, really -- the blown handoff and the fumble.

Julian Edelman's 22-yard fumble return: On the ensuing kickoff, the Jets did what they've done a lot lately -- commit a huge mistake on special teams. On a 25-yard return, Joe McKnight coughed it up in dramatic fashion on a great hit by Devin McCourty. The Jets blocked it up well -- kind of. They left one player unblocked -- McCourty. McKnight was carrying the ball on his right hip, not protecting it, and that was all she wrote.

The TV cameras caught Ryan's reaction on the sideline, and it said it all: "Un-f------ believable!"

Yep.

CAT AND MOUSE: The Jets decided to attack Brady with a smaller lineup, using five or more defensive backs on 56 plays out of 65 plays (not counting two kneel downs). They stayed with that personnel grouping even though the Patriots used three-plus WRs less than a quarter of the time.

It was like a rope-a-dope strategy, daring the Patriots to run the ball. They did, rushing for 152 yards. But Brady also picked apart the nickel and dime packages, who threw three TDs and averaged 11.5 yards per attempt against the extra-DB packages.

OLD ISSUES EMERGE: A year ago, the Jets struggled with their middle-of-the-field pass coverage. They addressed the problem by signing two new safeties, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell. Brady was unfazed. He destroyed the Jets in the middle.

Brady was 11-for-14 for 282 and two touchdowns on throws between the painted numbers, per ESPN Stats. Get this: His 20.1 yards-per-attempt was the most the Jets have allowed in a single game in the last five seasons.

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