A lot of folks hear the name Ducasse and think of assignments being blown in spectacular fashion, with QBs getting creamed and linemates getting their legs snapped. The disdain for Ducasse is justified. I was one of the few that wanted Ducasse when we drafted him 2 years ago, so I'm also one of the few that keeps an eye on him when he steps on the field. Its unfortunate that TV directors usually only show o-lineman when they're getting beaten. And this has negatively skewed the perception of Vlad. Yes, he's been beaten badly quite a few times. But there are plenty of other occassions where he's manhandling people and it goes unnoticed. There were times where he came in as a blocking TE and was moving DLs 3, 4, 5 yards off scrimmage, creating huge creases in his wake. I still believe in Vlad Ducasse. But he needs to put it together this off-season.
There's been talk bubbling to the surface that some of Ducasse's short-comings are due in part to his not having a full off-season to help him develop. I think there's some legitimacy to this notion. Vlad came from a small school with a low level of competition, and he was moved all over the line in his first season. In his second season, he had no off-season with individual coaching due to the lock-out to help him get ready. Then you have to factor in all the nonsensical complexities of a Schotty-schemed offense and a quasi zone-blocking scheme. Word seems to be that Ducasse has been working out at RT, and only RT this off-season. That Sparano's system is far less complicated in both verbiage and in assignment, and that it also offers a lot more help and double-team opportunities. I think the simplification of assignment and the extra help will bode well for Ducasse. I think we'll see him in favorable positions a lot more, with our expected renewed commitment to the running game. I think he'll be able to hone in on some weaknesses and improve a bunch with a real off-season and some extended one-on-one coaching. I'm expecting him to take a big jump this season.
Keller also echoed what coach Rex Ryan recently hinted, that Sparano's system allows players to help each other more, instead of for instance leaving a tackle out on an island. Keller said there are more calls designated for specific situations, rather than catch-all calls, taking the gray area out. The additional calls also give the Jets more chances to use double teams, he said.
I also like the talk I'm hearing about this 22 personnel stuff:
Keller said the Jets are still focusing on the base offense but they have been mixing in some "22 personnel" sets, in which there are two tight ends and two backs. In those sets, he said Jeff Cumberland, who is coming off a season-ending Achilles tear, is the second tight end.
I love it. I would also go so far as to say I hope that Josh Baker
is used as the FB in these sets. You can put Keller, Cumberland and Baker all off Vlad's flank. This would put the defense in a tough spot. Its a heavy personnel set, but the players that make it heavy are all also dangerous and capable pass catchers. I would leave the corner free every time, and invite him to dive at the line of scrimmage to take on Greene. The SS and the SLB are in a bit of a spot. If they bite hard at the run-action, both Keller and Cumberland have the speed to hurt them. But if they lean back on their heels, one TE can double down on the DE while the other two press the LB and Greene can hit it downhill for a quick 4 to 5 yards, and more if he shakes off a tackle. And the possiblities get even more enticing when you add McKnight and Ganaway to the potential RB combos.
All in all. I'm liking that our OC seems to at least recognize the strengths of our personnel and seems to be trying to use those strengths to the benefit of the team. I've said it many times but it bears repeating: its all bout imposing your will. The team that can dictate the terms of the game, the one that can do what it wants when it wants, is the team thats more likely to win. The beef I always had with Schotty was that he seemed to always be about TAKING the opportunity that presented itself. He wanted to balance out the formation and distribution, and see what you're giving him and try to take it. That approach is flawed, imo. That allows the opponent to dictate the terms. With that philospohy, the opponent has control of what you're doing and where you're going and when you're going there. It allows them to disguise and shift and make you react to THEM. I always admired the way the Pats approach offense. They DICTATE with pace and personnel. They don't wait to see which match-up presents itslef. They hurry personnel packages onto the field and MAKE match-ups. They don't react, they make YOU react. It seems that we finally have an OC that adopts more of that philosophy. Hopefully we see that play out on the field this season.
Quotes are from nj.com's Jenny Vrentas artical.