Many have been critical of the game Marty Mornhinweg called Monday against the Chicago Bears. I try to temper my criticisms of Marty because unlike most Jets offensive coordinators in my lifetime, he has proven he knows how to build a successful offense. The easiest thing in the world to do is to complain about the play caller. More often than not plays fail because of execution.
The offensive coordinator's job is to put his offense in the best position to succeed, however. I think it is fair to say that Marty failed to do this situationally in some key spots against the Bears. One looms largely in my mind because I don't like the thought process behind the play.
With around 10:00 to play in the fourth quarter the Jets faced a critical third down play from Chicago's 24 yard line. The Jets ran a bootleg to Geno Smith's left. Jared Allen was left unblocked by design and hit Geno. Geno rushed his pass and almost threw an interception.
You might ask why the Jets would leave Jared Allen unblocked ever. There is a good reason for this. Plays like that are an essential part of an offense that uses zone blocking as the Jets do at times.
The Jets run their fair share of zone blocking plays. I won't overload you with details of zone blocking in this post, but on your typical zone play the handoff is going either left or right. All of the linemen usually slide in the direction the run is going at the snap. You will usually see the defensive guy at the end away from the play not get blocked.
Why do they do this? On offense you only have so many blocking resources. Why use them on the guy furthest from the play? They are better utilized on the side the ball is going.
Can't an unblocked guy run at full speed even if he's far away from the play? Yes. How does an offense counter that?
Every so often you have the quarterback fake the handoff, pull the football away, and keep it himself in the direction of the unblocked defender. If the defender has this in his mind, he isn't going to be overpursuing the ball carrier.
Unfortunately for the Jets on this play the unblocked Allen stays at home and has a clear path to Geno. Further compounding the problem is the fact Geno is a righty and moving left which means he has to turn around completely to get into throwing position in a way he wouldn't moving to his right.
This made me wonder whether maybe the Jets saw something Allen was doing on runs earlier in the game. Maybe the Bears caught it and corrected it for this big play. After watching the Jets' zone runs from under center I can say that if Allen was too aggressive going after the backs, I couldn't see it.
Allen was certainly wide enough to make a play if Geno pulled it out most of the night.
This is an area where I have to take issue with the thought process behind a playcall. It's a good idea to throw this play in here or there. Run it in the first or second quarter. Even if it doesn't work, that does not make it a bad idea. You at least put it in the end defender's mind that he can't overpursue. This will make things easier on your ball carrier.
I really question the wisdom of a play call like this in a have to have it situation. It would have been one thing if the Bears had looked undisciplined. The Jets would have had them set up. That doesn't appear to be the case. I also wonder how culpable the offensive coaches in the booth who could see the entire field were. It seems like they might have either missed this or failed to communicate what was happening to Marty.