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Film Review vs. the Bills - A Focus on Ed Reed and the Offense

The last two games I had rewatched on NFL gamepass "coaches film" vie with two player keys and wrote about it. I had followed Quinton Coples on Defense and Brian Winters on Offense. This week the person I was most interested in was Ed Reed, and I kept a general eye on Geno Smith and the nature of the offensive struggles, often looking at the play of Reed's counterpart Byrd for the Bills. My past two keys struggled this game: Coples very seldom found himself in the 3 man lines that allowed inside rushes that he does well in, largely because there were not a lot of long downs, so he reverted to his lack of pass rush impact ways (a QB hurry and a hit). And Winters struggled as well, though by no means was he alone on the offensive line. The whole line seemed to have large issues. These are just my impressions after film review. There is a lot to look at, and a lot can be missed.

Ed Reed

My general impression of Ed Reed was positive. For the majority of the game he played a very deep center field Free Safety moving Landry to Strong Safety. That he was playing so deep much of the time made it so that it was hard to assess him much as there were not a lot of deep pass plays. His depth may have been due to a lack of speed at this point, he seldom challenged play in front of him, but he took very good angles preserving the last line of defense on almost all the plays he was asked too. You could feel his experience back there I think, it was comforting. He also was used successfully on a few blitzes. Tackling on the other hand, in the few times he had an opportunity was a little suspect. One wonders if in future games if he'll be targeted. Overall I liked having him out there. But there still doubts about some of his game which were untested.'

Unfortunately the first play I have to include was probably his worst, or at least his most bizarre. Early in the 2nd quarter he may have been reading the QB's eyes and he commit down to the underneath receiver, while the ball went beyond him to the receiver Landry was covering. This is pretty much the only time he challenged a play in front of him that I can remember, but what was weirdest was that he creams the Jet DB, and doesn't come close to where the receiver would have been if catching the ball:

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I had to put it in a GIF because it is so strange. Does he pull off the receiver because he sees the ball is going elsewhere, and fall into the DB? I haven't a clue.The rest of his play really wasn't like this - it was measured and aware - but I have to include it:

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Other than lining up very deep, he was up at the line a few times like in this play where he quickly backpedals:

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And then there was this very good play, maybe his best of the game, where he recognizes the end around immediately, and trips up the back behind the LoS:

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Here is Scott Salmon's GIF of the play and his commentary.

I worry he might go for ankle tackles in general now, I badly missed a tackle late in the game going down too low, we'll have to watch for it, but this was a great reading of the play with aggression.

2nd and 10 - our LBers

I looked closely at this 2nd and 10 2nd Quarter play because it is bothersome. You can see how deep Reed was for much of the game. He is shaded over to Cromartie's side. But look at the play of Harris who is just faked out by EJ:

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The tight end is bookended by the two inside LBs.

EJ though has looked right, by play design (Cromartie runs his man out of bounds, there is no throw over there), and Harris bites though there is nothing over there for him to cover:

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I don't know if Davis has a responsibility here (probably not), but Davis is really pulled away by EJ's eye movement. There is nothing there. The TE ends up wide open as Harris tries to recover from no man's land:

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One reason why I bring this up, aside from how terrible our LBers are in coverage is that eye movement is something that Geno just isn't bringing. Part of the reason is because he has no time, but part of it is that something like this designed look off just isn't in the playbook.

A Sheldon Detour

This was just a spectacular play. Richardson sniffs out the screen pass early, and is so fast he drags down Jackson for no gain. EJ is moving people with his eyes again, but Richardson already reads the play. Every game he does something freakish. This is the play this week:

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Back to Reed

Reed was in on a few blitzes, which is how I thought they might employ him because he is able to position himself so well. I think there will be more of this. In this play he blitzes up the middle:

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And Davis is freed on the outside, putting on great pressure:

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The Geno Strip, Fumble

I looked at game turning strip and fumble by Geno, a play where Winters is just plain beat. I'm a Winters apologist, but there is no defense here...other than to say that Jet linemen were being beat all game. Howard was beaten even worse a little later, and Ferguson was beaten badly too. But on this play Mangold also was beaten, and it added to Geno's constriction. He simply could not step up from the blindside, as Mangold's man was stepping right into him:

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Geno had it very rough this game. Bills were breaking free left and right, and on this play the pocket was collapsing from two directions, not one. But...

...when you pull the camera back on this 2nd and 10 play you get even worse news. The entire play was screwed. Byrd was hawking Geno's eyes the whole day, and the Bills seemed to know when short passes were dialed up for some reason. Here Geno couldn't get rid of the ball right away (he wants to throw it to Hill, red), but Byrd has semi-jumped the route on his way over to cover the TE. Geno has to pause for Hill to clear, and the play is over because the pocket collapses.

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But look at the routes run on this 2nd and 10. It's like an old Schottenheimer play. Everything is in a tight 6 yard box:

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In many ways this typified the troubles on offense. The pocket breaks down in two ways, all the routes were bunched and short, easy to defend (Byrd defends two men here), and the Bills still have a safety back. And Geno, under extreme pressure, tends to just look at one receiver - with the defenders locking onto his eyes - because honestly there is no time to do anything else.

So it just wasn't Winters. Here is Howard later in the game on a complete whiff that leaves Geno naked:

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And here Ferguson is confused by a stunt. His man runs into Winters, and Winters' man rounds around the end untouched. This pressure helped produce the short throw that resulted in the challenged Holmes catch, which was overturned as incomplete.

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The Byrd INT

A big issue, in part because Geno just doesn't have time, in part because it isn't in his skill set yet, in part because look offs don't seem designed, is that defenders are just reading Geno's eyes. And Byrd was doing this ALL game. It is okay if a safety does this because you can take advantage of it, but rarely were the Jets in a position to do so. You can see Byrd's advantage in his INT. 2 of the other 3 routes are breaking open, especially the inside receiver at the 20, but Byrd is just reading Geno's eyes as Cumberland is the target. He is so far ahead of the play Cumberland doesn't even really see the ball (he doesn't get his head around quickly). It is a very easy play for Byrd:

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The One Good Offensive Play

There was one outstanding offensive play in this game. Unfortunately it was produced in part because the Bills decided to not rush the passer (I think they sent only 3 or 4). It is just a great play design. It takes advantage of Byrd's eye reading, and of the two fastest Jet players Holmes and Hill.

Holmes and Hill twist, and with Byrd reading Geno's eyes he can't tell which receiver he is throwing to. Byrd elects to go with Hill who is burning his man, and Holmes just slips in behind in the vacant spot, catching a pass on the sideline:

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How the Jets were Burned by Speed 4 Times in Two Plays

Everyone is so upset by Cromartie. He is just awful they say. And now it is Milliner they hate as well. The truth is that these corners are isolated on an island with no safety help most of the time and it just isn't working out. But check out the two deep pass plays in a row that produced the Cromartie TD.

On the first play Reed is out and Jarrett is in at Strong Safety. Landry at Free Safety has the weak side. This is just simple speed football:

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Jarrett on the TE, above. Two outside receivers in tight coverage. Landry backpedals and covers literally nobody. Graham beats Milliner on the far side, but Goodwin also beats Cromartie on the near side. There is no safety help for either. The ball goes to Graham:

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Then look at the next play. Reed is back in, so Landry switches to strong safety. The Bills flip the formation and put the TE on the other side. Here it is at the snap of the ball:

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The same fly pattern on both side of the field. Again, Graham is beating his man (Milliner?), but Cromartie looks like he is in good position when the ball is in the air (red, below):

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Again the safety is lost in the middle of the field, this time it is Reed. This is just a flaw in the coverage design that is being exploited, it would seem. But look at what happens. Goodwin outraces Cromartie with the ball in the air (there is a very slight wiggle in the route that made Cromartie shorten his stride just a tiny, tiny bit. Cromartie, a very fast man, is blown off the field:

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The Jets are burned 4 times on the outside, in two plays. Completions could have gone to either receiver, and neither receiver had help from the FS.

The 2nd Byrd Interception

Here is a look at the other Byrd interception. As I mentioned Byrd was watching Geno's eyes all game and this is no exception on this throw to Holmes. But look at this pattern combo. Only 3 players in routes, with the Bills having 7 defenders. What makes anyone think that this is going to produce something good? It doesn't.

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Back to Reed

Sorry to end on a bad note, I honestly liked Reed in this game. But it is hard to put up photos of him holding down the fort as the last line of defense, reading the play but not getting into it. In this play though the TE has caught the ball and the linebacker is trailing in coverage. This is what the FS is for:

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The tackle attempt was an embarrassment really, almost a stumble. He seems to go for his ankles - I hope this isn't a method he has adopted. He is just stepped over:

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About Reed. I think the questions are whether making Landry a Strong Safety is an improvement to the Defense. It certainly slows down the Defense on the strong side, but maybe it is "smarter" and in better position? Reed seems like an old pro out there. He sees everything, takes great angles, may make fast-read plays that nobody else would on the Jets, like the play that he made on the end-around. But he isn't going to tackle well, and we'll have to see what happens when other teams decide to target his help coverage and test his speed. Also, with Landry at strong safety there may be new problems with TE coverage - not that we were great - as our LBers just can't handle the responsibility.

About Geno. I'm still not concerned with Geno. The safeties of the league know to watch his eyes, yeah. But his inability to move through progressions, or move defenders with his eyes has a lot to do with an Offensive line that is having real problems. And in this game it was every OLman other than Colon that I noticed having real issues. Also teams have learned how to take advantage of our poor RB protections and produce pressures with DB blitzes. He just is under too much duress to be making definitive judgments about (the Bills had 4 sacks, 4 QB hits and 11 hurries on only 27 Jet drop backs - and it was probably worse than that because they called off the dogs when Simms came in). That being said some of the conservative route patterns are so curious. Some pass plays look like they can't succeed from the get-to. Maybe because of protection problems Mornhingweg just can't produce dynamic route choices. Until they solve the pressure problem they just can't do much with Geno.

About the Simms "INT" into Triple Coverage

Just as an aside, I've heard repeated a few times that Matt Simms threw an all-but-caught INT in the redzone, right into triple coverage, as if this is some condemnation of his football IQ. Hey, I'm no big Simms fan, but I wanted to point out that this really isn't true. Simms was under big pressure, he made his throw on the run and even airborne, and his receiver was not triple covered. Hill was actually wide open, but Simms just could not get enough on the ball to lead him into the endzone where he would have caught the ball easily. It was a good late-game attempt I think:

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I don't think Simms or anyone else should start, this is Geno's year, but at some point if Geno is struggling it might be good to put him in at half to shake things up. At the very least it could present a different picture to the defense. I did see Simms (under almost no pressure) look to a 2nd receiver more than once, a good sign.

Again guys, this is just my impression from watching the All 22 and endzone views.

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