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Jets vs. Steelers: The Set Up

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Good playcalling is all about creating tendencies and then breaking them. You want to set a trap for the defense. Get into a pattern. Get the defense thinking they have you figured out. Then make them pay for assuming.

That is what the Jets did in the first quarter of Sunday's game. On the first drive of the game, the Jets ran it over 60% of the time as they marched down the field for a field goal.

Let's look at the first play of drive number two.

playaction1

The Jets are going to fake a run to the left. T.J. Graham is going to the post as the Steelers are lined up in what appears to be a cover three. (Note: This is not drawn to scale. Where Graham breaks to the middle of the field and the deep coverage responsibilities aren't in the picture.)

playaction2

The Jets fake the run to Chris Ivory (red circle). Mike Mitchell (blue circle) bites and charges in to play the run. This is a problem because it opens up the autobahn in the middle of the field for Graham. That's a big problem for Pittsburgh because that's where he's running, and the cornerback assigned to Graham is playing an outside technique. He's funneling Graham to the middle of the field where there is supposed to be help.

playaction3

There isn't really anything spectacular Graham does here. The playcall just created a window in the middle of the field for Michael Vick, which he hits. Graham makes the catch and takes it to the end zone.

Beyond playcalling, this also shows how doing one thing well opens up other things. Ivory ran for 36 yards on that first series. The Steelers thought they had the Jets figured out with their run happy tendencies, but they also had to commit extra resources to stopping Ivory because he was running so effectively. This opened up the big pass.

It helps to have players who can execute on offense. Who knew?