This is a bit of a follow up on the "coaches film" review I did in the Bengal game the week before. In that game I keyed every defensive play on Coples and noted that his straight ahead outside rush was dooming him as an OLer. I also keyed on OG Winters because I wanted to check the "he is bad" meme that was going around among some Jet fans - he wasn't as bad as people were saying. This week I keyed on them again, mostly because these are two young players whose story has come to interesting me.
Winters Won the Game
This is just a bit of hyperbole, but let me explain. The Jets were backed up inside the 1 to start the 2nd quarter against a team that everyone imagined would blow them out, trailing. They were staying alive, but would it hold? This is a turning point early on, the kind of series of downs that would have reverberations throughout the rest of the game, especially if it's a 3 and out and the Saints get great field position and go up 14-3. People knew that the Jets would have to be able to run the ball, and this is exactly where it had to happen. And on this drive Winters was a plus factor on nearly every play, allowing the Jets to chew up clock, drive the length of the field and score enough to stay in it early. It was a big deal.
The first big play was the biggest. There are some fans who just went crazy on the Winters inside shoulder block on the pull that still freed up Ivory for the huge gain - imagining it seems that if Winters wasn't there Ivory still would have broken it. Well, he wouldn't have. No, Winter's block wasn't great, not text book, but it was just enough of what needed to get it done as he put his 80 lb advantage on the LBer and allowed Ivory to squirt through. In the two stills below you can see how the LBer who originally was perfectly balanced had then to lean heavily into Winters to meet and neutralize the block, and he could not recover to grab Ivory. No, it wasn't brilliant, but it was functional enough blocking and produced a big, very important early game play. The Jets elected to run several plays involving Winters action on this drive:
The play can be debated and debated, people are convinced by what they see and they see different things, I'm just here to tell you my impressions, and my impression is that this was a plus play for Winters, and a good example of how they are going to be using him. One of the advantages of going with a lighter former college tackle is the ability to pull and get across the line or down field. We are going to see more of this, not less.
The next play was another Winters contribution. This time he drives hard on DE Cameron - who had taken the outside on him and turns him into the ground, as Powell bursts through for 6 yards. The Jets are running the ball, just what they need to do (Winters, yellow):
After the nifty Cribbs pass for 25, back to running. Winters gets good push ib Coleman on an Ivory 3 yard run on the next play. Then (below) he has a very nice seal on the DE Johnson (yellow, below) on a Powell cutback, good for 6 yards. Running on Winters action is producing yards in chunks on this drive:
He then gets good push on the Geno sneak. And although they didn't run the ball his way on the next play maybe the should have as he pancakes the NT Jenkins who outweighs him by 30 lb, driving him to the turf. It was an Ivory 1 yard run.
I watched Winters the whole game. No, he wasn't mauling people, he doesn't have the size to do that. He played quite well...smart. I only saw 1 play that he was truly beaten on, nearly ever other play he stood his man up, neutralized the defender and quite often got a push. He was helped by the fact that this game was run heavy as his pass blocking has been inconsistent, but even in pass blocking he looked better than he did against the Bengals with less help from Mangold. To add more context and information I also rewatched the game again with a key entirely on Colon to compare the guards. Colon had a few very nice plays that perhaps stood out, but also had several blunders that were worse than anything Winters did: A false start and this big whiff (below) on the first play of the game, leading to an Ivory loss of yards just when we wanted to establish the run. On a few plays Colon just missed his man (yellow, below).
I also rewatched the Ducasse Titans game and keyed on him the whole game to see what was up with Vlad, and why he was sat. True, he's a nice run blocker with size, but I counted 7 times he was beaten by his man in pass blocking. The biggest problem seemed to be two fold. He just couldn't handle the speed of an inside rusher if they put a smaller man against him, and worse, he didn't seem to understand the protections, so he would vacate and just let a man run free.
I was encouraged by everything I saw from Winters. I saw a steady, growing player who really might be something in a year. One of the more intriguing things to watch is how the Jets will use him with Ferguson downfield, like in the Salas screen pass (Winters, yellow):
By pairing Winters with Ferguson and Colon with Howard we have a more bruising right side of the line, and mobile left side. This could lead to some very nice thematic offensive developments (although Colon is also capable of pulling as he did a few times in this game). Once Winters becomes more settled in the communication and teamwork of the OL, and maybe adds a few lbs to himself and his bench press he could be a formidable OL mainstay.
Coples: The Rebirth
A lot of fans like me have grown quite frustrated with the Coples move to OLBer. As I wrote previously he just isn't physically suited to the outside rush. He is an interior rusher. But he suddenly became more productive this game, what gives? Did he acquire new outside rush skills? Well, the answer is no. The Jets just started varying his rush, and all of his productive plays came from either inside moves, some inside twists as an OLBer in a 3-4...or on passing downs the Jets went with what I would still call a 3 man line composed of Wilkerson, Richardson, and Coples. Each of these maneuvers put Coples in more favorable inside rush position. He still rushed from the outside in the 3-4, as an OLer, but these were largey unproductive, straight into the tackle rushes, as usual, with the benefit of at least setting the edge and keeping the Offense honest, avoiding the risk that inside moves from the edge creates.
Below will be lots of shots of lines that show either his inside rush from the edge in the 3-4 or his 3 man line. Fans have been making a big deal with the Sons of Anarchy meme, excited about what Harrison is bringing to the line, but I'm even more enthused by the pass rush base that takes Harrison out, and allows Coples, Richardson and Wilkerson to wreck havoc, with ILBers in blitz support, and interestingly sometimes with Wilson up on the line in a quasi-safety role as he was late in the game on few plays.
The first quarter saw several inside lane pushes by Coples. Below Coples (red) takes the inside. This is also an example of what I am calling the 3 man line with Wilkerson at NT (yellow).
Here Coples takes the inside lane with Harrison in the game, and the Jets try to take advantage of Richardson's speed as he twists to the outside.
Here Coples rushing again, to the inside:
On the 3rd Saints drive of the game (Coples in yellow):
In the 3rd Quarter Coples stunts behind Richardson and Harrison and gets great inside pressure, nearly sacking Brees with one of his 3 QB hits (yellow, the path).
Examples of the 3 man Coples line, used more frequently in the 2nd half:
Here not only is Coples lining up inside, but Wilson is up almost like a LBer/safety.
Here Richardson is set up the furthest outside of the 3, something I think they'll do more of because he is so dynamic:
Great pressure put on with the Coples 3 man line in the 3rd (Wilson in red, hawking the RB).
And the fantastic Bush hit on Brees also came out of the Coples 3 man line AND with Coples stunting to the inside, as Bush (red) hits the vacated lane.
As mentioned, Coples can't rush with inside moves from the 3-4 OLBer position too often as it will expose the edge, but his inside paths were very productive in this game, as was the Coples 3 man line with Richardson and Wilkerson. By pairing Coples with the two best pass rushers and giving him a more inside path the Jets can be more creative with their linebacker and safety blitzes, as well as with their high DB zone coverages. This I think is the future for the Jets pass rush.
What is Meant By Motor
There were a few plays by Richarson that really stood out. Unfortunately one of them really spells the difference between Coples and Richardson. As much as we've praised Coples this week, there is the plain fact that he just will not be a "Richardson". And the draft of Richardson with Coples on board will be one of the more interesting quite development stories of the Jets over the next few years.
The first motor play by Richardson was in the first quarter. He was being double teamed by an OLman and the RB. The RB broke off the block and flared out for a screen. He was not Richardson's responsibility in the least. But look at how much ground Richardson covers (probably 15 yards run), as he (yellow) hustles down field to make the tackle that Davis (red) fails to:
At this point who do you think will make the tackle at the yellow star? Davis, in perfect position, or Richardson (red arrow) running trying to catch up to the play? It is Richardson who is in on the tackles as Davis is juked out.
The 2nd play speaks volumes because you can see Coples and Richardson side by side, seeing the exact same play. It's a pass down field that gets tipped, a play that the average OLman is ho-hum about. Actually each of them are loitering a bit, with Richardson slightly behind Coples, until the pass gets batted up into the air. See Richardson run past Coples to put his 300+ lbs onto the receiver. This is cool and less cool if you are thinking about Coples who doesn't exactly stop, but he doesn't go either. That is the thing about Richardson, he goes. The GIF doesn't capture the full dynamic:
watch Richarson (yellow arrow) run past Coples (blue arrow) to lay some lead on the receiver.
A Few more Notes
---- Coples looked pretty good against the run, especially on the outside. On one play he penetrated a double team and swallowed the runner.
---- As thrilled as fans are about Cribbs in the Wildcat, I saw two plays where he simply ran to the wrong hole and did not read his blocking well, leaving bigger gains on the field. He isn't really a running back at all. So while the Wildcat is super interesting with him there does seem like a built in limitation. He might not see the best lane the blockers are providing.
---- On the Saints 2nd the last drive (I believe) the Jets really tried to switch things up by putting in a variety of mixed lines including Troy Davis, Sapp and Douzable. They were trying to put in fresh, really fast bodies. It really didn't work that well (they didn't create much pressure) and they went back to the Coples 3 man line frequently on the last Saints drive. An odd time to experiment with the game still on the line.
---- I liked what they were doing with Wilson moving him up towards the line with the Coples 3 man line, where he was in coverage, or hawking, but also threatening to blitz. They are getting creative with how to use Wilson.