While I have a few quibbles here and there, I think in general Marty Mornhinweg has done a terrific job this season. This is not an easy offense to coordinate. The Jets aren't supremely talented at any unit perhaps running back. With a lack of playmakers, it falls on the offensive coordinator to scheme things up. One area the Jets have done this is utilizing Geno Smith's ability as a runner by installing some option plays.
The Jets are in a diamond pistol formation with Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson, and Bilal Powell all in the backfield. I have seen this formation used on the college level by Oklahoma. It is a diverse run formation because the ball can go to one of three players (or kept by the quarterback) and to either side.
On this particular play, the Jets run a variety of a triple option.
The first option is to give the ball to Chris Ivory, who started as the back behind Geno. Geno sees that he's got plenty of room on the outside. Brian Winters also can't hit the second level and get to Sio Moore quickly enough so the handoff to Ivory is probably not the right play here.
Moore penetrates into the backfield. Neither Ivory nor Powell can get to him, and he's bearing down on Geno. However, the Jets have built a third option into this play. Chris Johnson swung around from being to Geno's right on the snap and can take a pitch.
Geno takes the hit. Johnson takes the pitch, and aided by an Eric Decker block takes it outside for 8 yards.
The fact Geno took a big hit here shows the limits to designed plays where the quarterback is going to run the ball. It can't be anything more than a wrinkle here or there because Geno taking big hits like these is not in the Jets' interest. Use of plays like this can dial up the gains an undermanned offense will need. The more options built in on a play like this, the more an offense can deal with problems. Moore had every chance to blow this play up, but adding in Johnson as an outside pitch guy turned it into a big gain.
Let's look at another wrinkle Marty threw into a designed run. This one was from last week.
This is just a little read option. The Jets aren't blocking the guy on the end, and Geno is reading him. If he stays at home, Geno hands off to Ivory. If he charges at too sharp of an angle aiming to get Ivory, Geno pulls the ball and takes it outside.
In this case Clay Matthews does indeed bite, and Geno takes the ball outside. There isn't anything crazy about this initially. You see plenty of teams run plays like these.
As far as housekeeping goes, a play like this is also essential to show from time to time. The Jets use zone blocking on a fair share of their run plays. On zone plays, the guy at the end away from where the ball is going is unblocked. The idea is not wasting blocking resources on the guy furthest from the play. Since that guy is unblocked, though, he can fly from the backside and tackle the running back. A play like this is essential to keeping him at home. You have to put in his mind that the quarterback can keep it if he charges too hard and rip off a big gain.
For the purposes of the Jets, it serves the dual purpose of utilizing the running ability of their quarterback.
But what I really like about this play is a little extra wrinkle.
The Jets bring Jeremy Kerley in motion and use him as an outside pitch guy in case a linebacker or safety comes up and covers for Matthews' mistake.
It doesn't happen here, but Geno still has the opportunity to get the ball into the hands of the faster Kerley with plenty of open field and turn what could have been a 10 yard gain into a 39 yarder.
This should be of particular note for the Jets this week because the three biggest rushes the Bears have allowed this season have appeared to me to be the result of a defender getting out of his lane because of the threat of the quarterback running. Chicago has faced two mobile quarterbacks in EJ Manuel and Colin Kaepernick thus far.
It's not even necessarily the case that these guys are all in the wrong gap, particularly on number 3. But the threat of the quarterback keeping it perhaps got some players too wide to compensate to make the tackle.
Perhaps this is something that could work to the Jets' advantage.