clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jets vs. Raiders: Finding the Balance of Pressure and Coverage

Maddie Meyer

You might be surprised to learn that the Jets' blitz rate under Rex Ryan has decreased to the point where the team was on the bottom half of blitz rates in 2013. I would imagine part of this was by design. The Jets were stronger up front and weaker in the back of their defense in 2013 than at any point during the Ryan Era for the Jets. Gang Green counted on the guys in the front to be able to get to the quarterback and tried to reinforce the weaker points in the back. It had mixed success.

Rex was sending less rushers, but the Jets still weren't necessarily playing a vanilla defense. They did mix things up. Exotic doesn't always mean sending the house. Sometimes tweaks can create busted assignments.


Here's a play the Jets ran against a rookie quarterback, EJ Manuel, last season. They bring four rushers on this play. Pick four out of the six you would expect to rush from a group of Calvin Pace, Antwan Barnes, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, David Harris, and Demario Davis. You probably would guess the first four. Pace and Barnes are circled in red. Harris and Davis is circled in blue. The red guys drop into a zone while the blue guys rush the passer.


Manuel's first read is left, but because Pace and Barnes have dropped, the passing lanes are clogged. This is the type of thing a rookie has likely seldom seen before if ever. It can rattle the rookie. In an extreme case, a rookie won't even expect it and make the big mistake. It additionally provides help in the back of the defense to a weak secondary.

It also buys the blitzers a little bit of extra time.

Meanwhile the blocking is falling apart despite only having four rushers because of where they are placed.


Coples is engaging the right tackle. Then Harris loops around him before he can pass Coples off to the guard and pick up Harris.


By the time he switches, it's too late, and the assignment is blown. Manuel actually regains his footing from here, but Damario Davis cleans up the sack.

Many times we think of blitzes in the context of the entire field like the Jets are bringing six when the other guy is blocking five. Sometimes it's as simple as bringing two into an area where one is blocking. These reactions need to happen in a split second. The tackle needs to read it, and the guard needs to be ready to take Coples. This type of chemistry only emerges over time with offensive linemen when they have gone through the same situation on the field over and over.

I'm getting at a few things here. First, it's tempting to say a promising rookie quarterback like Derek Carr can burn the Jets' suspect secondary on Sunday. It surely is possible, but it isn't that simple.  Throwing looks like these can throw a quarterback off.  Rex Ryan is certainly capable of cooking up a number of different looks like this. There are more ways to help a shaky secondary than providing basic vanilla fronts.

The Jets need to find a balance with their pressure. Oakland is breaking in a lot of new pieces on the offensive line.  While the cornerback situation is less than inspiring, the Raiders' offensive line might well break if stress is put on it with pressure packages. There are a number of players not used to playing together.

The Jets have a lot of looks like these, and they can provide the balance of both not leaving the back end exposed and testing a new group of pass protectors.