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Jets vs. Lions: The Disguise Game

Alex Goodlett

Through three games, the Detroit Lions have not been a team that likes to push the pace on offense. Football Outsiders clocks them with an average of 29.38 seconds between plays. That is 28th of 32 teams. Part is this is likely due to them netting a pair of double digit wins. When the score is within 6 points they are at 29.02, which is the middle of the pack at 16th. The way the Jets like to disguise their fronts could create an interesting chess match if the Lions do not move quickly. Going slowly gives the quarterback more time to try and decipher what the defense is doing. He can try and get a defender to give away his moves. Few teams look to confuse an offense like the Jets do by disguising what they do.

Here is one example from Monday's game on an early third down play.


The Jets change their original alignment by bringing up Calvin Pryor, Demario Davis, and David Harris to the line of scrimmage to fake like there is going to be a big blitz on this play.

Cutler responds by bringing his tight end back in as a blocker (blue circle). He appears to change his protection and points at Pryor. At this point the Jets respond with an additional disguise. Kyle Wilson charges up as though he's going to blitz (green circle), while Pryor drops (red).


Cutler makes a hand signal to the receiver in the direction Wilson has vacated.  It's unclear whether Cutler is trying to fake the Jets out. What is clear is that the Jets tricked Cutler here.


Wilson has the slot covered. It appears Cutler might have been looking in that direction. I'm not 100% about that, but that area would have been uncovered had Wilson blitzed.

What I am more confident in saying is Harris and Davis dropped.


Cutler dumps the pass off to Matt Forte partially because of pressure. Because Forte stayed in, he gets into his route late. Cutler seemed to be anticipating a blitz by Harris and Davis, which would have left that part of the field wide open for Forte to scamper for a big gain. Instead it turns into a 3 yard gain with no open space, and the Bears have to punt.

A more deliberate offense like the Lions have run gives the quarterback more time to figure out what a defense is doing. That leaves things up to the Jets to not tip their hand and sometimes throw multiple disguises to get the quarterback to make the wrong adjustments.