GGN Chalkboard: Geno Smith Keys Victory Against Browns

Ron Antonelli

Alrighty folks, it's another chalkboard time. Hope you all had a safe, enjoyable holiday season. Hopefully the Jets can put a win up and get to .500.

After reviewing tape, and in one case spending 20 minutes rewatching one play until I got it sorted, I can make a few conclusions. Geno Smith executed some plays really well. Milliner got really lucky on his pick, and Coples was half of the reason for an early TD.

Let's go defense first and look at the first TD of the game for the Browns. Here's an example of Coples getting caught outside and the power working perfectly against the Jets 3-4. Also of note, I'll point out why 3-4 ends need to force double teams.

Here we go. The Browns got the ball on the Jets 5 after a long drive. The Browns go with a heavy package. This is an example of a power or pull power as some coaches refer to it. The guard and TE both on the right side pull and become extra blockers for the play to go left. The FB does a decoy route and doesn't even block. The RB gets the ball as shown. Line blocks as shown below.

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Coples here is the key block. He's the bottom-most guy down on his hands. He runs straight upfield and gets caught by the pulling guard. On the inside 94 Harrison gets doubled which isn't unusual.. The problem is he doesn't keep both lineman on him by pressuring. He allows one guy to slide off and gets the LB as shown. That took care of Davis as the lineman got him in the hole. Harrison compounds his mistake by overplaying and getting shielded to the inside. Here's a look at what happens with the combination of Coples and Harrison getting shielded. Side note: everyone else does nothing to get off blocks or read the play. The guys at the bottom including Cromartie are on their man so I don't fault them too much.

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What ended up happening is a giant hole in between them. Here's the view at almost the same time from behind the play which has a better look at the hole.

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That, my friends, is two guys overrunning the play. There's nobody other than the LB left who gets picked up before the TD. Needless to say that happens. Again, the side view here is showing the two guys getting caught and everyone else being blocked.

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This is the back view showing a lane straight into the end zone from maybe a half second or two later after the side view. This is an easy TD for the RB as Harrison eats Metlife Turf and Coples tracks his man from the 12 yard line.

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I'm not trying to pick on these two. There's plenty of blame to go around on this play. Still , the DL is considered the best part of this team and here I think they had a slight hiccup. The results speak for themselves.
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Later in the game though, things turned around on defense. Yay! The Browns line up with 3 WR in a bunch to the right side and a WR filling in for the TE on the left. Interesting set out of the shotgun with a back to his right for Campbell. The Jets countered with a 3-3-5 nickel set that took out Harrison and added an extra DB instead of a 2nd OLB. (Coples moved to DE while Will went to nose) That extra guy would be Wilson as the nickel back FYI. The Jets run a safety blitz with Landry coming in and Davis blitzing over the right B and C gap. Jets run all three lineman at Campbell plus the other two guys. The blitz never does get there and Campbell has all day to throw.


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Here are the routes and concepts: Out of the bunch at the bottom Little is the intended man over the middle. One man runs across the LOS, and the other runs a wheel route. On the other side of the field the other WR runs a corner.

Here's where I get controversial: This was a cover 3 zone. A straight zone, not man underneath as some have suggest. The reason it looks like a man is actually because it's a perfect defense for this play, well sort of. Hold on to that thought. Below is where everyone is focused on this play.

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So you're looking at this and going why do I think it's zone? Here's where the tape says zone. Pace is already telling Cro to take the WR at the top of the page as he goes deep. Pace is checking into a shorter zone it seems. Harris over the middle is taking the man over the middle and isn't in trail like he'd be in man to man coverage, but playing a zone coverage and bumps the WR across the middle.

As for the guys deep: Here's what I think they were playing.
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A lot of people say Wilson is the obvious sign we are playing man, but I don't think so. What ends up happening is the WR runs a wheel route taking him through Wilson's zone later than the other routes. He's already seen one man go deep, and no one is running a route short of him, so he takes the WR deep and keeps track of him rather than releasing him. Milliner here is splitting the two WR's going deep on the right while Reed covers the middle. Cro takes the man on the post, where Campbell expected him to be open. Kudos to Cro and Pace here, they had that man shut down.

On offense, Campbell here makes a mistake that's often associated with rookies. He stares down his man. This is a big time mistake. Those who have access to game rewind look at how long he locks on to the first guy. It's incredible. Look how open Little is in the image below. He's got 10 yards of cushion. In fact, Little has enough time to settle into the spot for a full two seconds before the ball gets there. (I counted.) Here's the problem for Campbell. In those two seconds, Little stands there. Milliner also spots Little, reads Campbell's eyes and takes off.
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That is the anatomy of a interception. A wide open WR stands in one place while a QB locks on to another WR for too long and allows the CB to make a play on a very late pass. Make no mistake here. If Campbell gets off his first read a second earlier, we're looking at a first down here, but two seconds was long enough for Milliner to get his first pick. GGN Chalkboard hopes this is the first of many for Milliner.
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Let's go to offense. The Jets here have had a great drive. The Jets trot out two TE's and three WRs. Jets line up in bunch formation right with Cumberland inside, Winslow in the middle, and Nelson manning the outside. Kerley lines up on the other side with Salas being the slot guy. (Interesting to see no Holmes here.)

Here are the routes.
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Nelson's TD route is in red. The Jets run simple crossing routes at the top and a more advanced spacing concept at the top. In essence the idea is to make all the receivers run into a same area and break off different areas hoping one defender makes a mistake. In this case, it's not so much a mistake, as it puts pressure for the safety to cover multiple routes. Let's take a look at the Browns defense and you can see what I mean.
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The Browns are in a cover 4 defense with 4 deep backs, 3 guys under with a 4 man rush. The Jets' offensive line dominates the Browns at the point of attack. More on that later. Here's where that spacing concept pays off. The crossing routes up top are naturally defended by the two guys in the deep zone, but the safety on the T has to be aware of all three guys running at him. If you see three guys running like they did as the deep safety or corner you are basically stuck until the Jets receivers make their move. The red is where the pass goes and you can it's right at the edge of two zones. Only the underneath LB is in the middle of the field, and he's got his back to where the play is going. Nelson will eventually break to the middle and both safeties have to sprint to get into the middle of the field from where they were
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Again you can see the problem here with the cover 4 with this spacing concept. The middle of the field is wide open as the safety on Nelson's side had to wait for the routes to break. The other safety is watching the crossing routes and is also late getting there. That gives Nelson a step advantage and Geno is already unloading here. The MLB ends up being completely turned around by Nelson as he runs past him in the middle of the end zone. As for everyone else's routes, they are covered, but again it only takes one guy getting opening.

Let's take it back a second here and point out something: None of this is possible without some great protection. I'd like to single out D'Brickashaw Ferguson here who has the tough job.

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Major pluses to D'Brick who pushed his guy to the outside creating a huge pocket. Also, while we're at it, Howard did a good job on the other side, so kudos go to him too. Winters gets some help from Mangold while Colon mans up his guy. Again, I bring this up to show you none of this becomes possible without some good blocking at the point of attack.

A moment of truth is here, Geno Smith throws a strike to Nelson over the middle here. The safety is a step behind, which is a credit to the play design and everything else we've discussed. Let's throw a bone here to Marty for a good design and great time to call it. Next image is slightly before Nelson gets the catch.

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That's good stuff there.
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The next play is a good example of a QB being on the same page as a WR. Geno had checked to this play at the line. Nelson lines up at the top alone.  I have no idea what the other routes were because that's how fast the ball came out, but I'm guessing they were similar to that as shown.

It's a simple post-fade route from Nelson. Nelson basically gets the CB to make one step too much and then gets him to overcommit, giving him a step to the outside and a wide open window for Geno.
Here we go:
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It's man to man across the board so I did not show the defense. A blitz comes which is the reason Geno probably checked to this play, but the ball's gone before one guy gets even remotely close. It's a great audible here and all but GGN chalkboard does have a nitpick with Geno. He could have thrown to the outside shoulder instead of the inside shoulder on the throw. Had he done that, I'd give him a straight A+ for this play. However, he could get burned one day if a corner can recover faster than this guy if he throws it to the inside shoulder whether it be knocked down or picked off.  Still though, it was a pretty decent throw so I can't complain, it's not like some of the other throws he's made.
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Let's go to the one TD Geno had to use his feet to get. This is a personal favorite of mine because it combines some solid blocking and Geno making a correct read that the defense was in man. Jets line up with 2 WR's, a TE, a FB and RB.

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This looks like the Jets ran a Flood concept to the right with the RB, FB ,and TE going right. Nelson and Kerley both run a post route over the middle of the field at different depths.

The Browns counter with 5 man blitz and man to man coverage or what looks like it. It looks like at least one or two Browns cover the same guy or think they have to take a guy. The safety at one point covers the corner route and then jumps up as he was going after T-Bo which says to me he has no idea who he was supposed to take.

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Either way, Geno correctly reads man and has one guy to really worry about who isn't blocked. I've marked that guy in the image above, who ends up over running the play. You can see that below in the next image where he plays like he expected a full roll out pass.

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Geno sees that there's a giant hole over the left side of the protection and basically a straight line into the end zone. At this point the only question is if the line can hold until Geno can break through. Luckily, the O line comes through especially the guy in the small box.

Geno takes a left step and from there it's a straight shot into the end zone as the guy in the box pushes his guy straight out of the play.

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The guy over the middle had his back turned away from the play and ran after Nelson while Geno took off so he was no threat. Again the blocking held through and Geno had a footrace to get the TD.

Here's something funny. Look at Cumberland, at this moment he put his hand up as Geno has all but taken off. He might be trying to distract the guy covering him, but I think he was calling for the pass. Geno had that one under control.

This is the last GGN Chalkboard for the year, so just wanted to thank everyone for reading. Hope these continue to help everyone out. After the season, I'll mix up a few of these with some more concept ones. Any questions are always welcome.

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