When the Jets take the field tonight, they will be facing a mobile quarterback. Among quarterbacks with at least six starts this season, Cam Newton is the only one with more rushing yards than Tyrod Taylor. Taylor also has the ability to make plays in the passing game by using his legs to extend plays.
This is troubling for the Jets because of their defensive style. Every defensive system has strengths and weaknesses. Todd Bowles' system uses a lot of man to man coverage. This type of coverage is vulnerable to quarterback scrambles.
You can see it here. The defenders in coverage aside from one deep safety are all following receivers into routes. This typically leaves a big opening in the middle of the field if the quarterback can break the pocket.
Compare that with zone coverage like you see above. In zone coverage, each defender is assigned to part of the field. The distribution of defensive players is more even. There will be more defenders in running lanes, where their zones are.
This is one of the tradeoffs of the defense the Jets run. Their ability (or least theoretical ability) to lock down the other team's receivers man to man opens up blitz possibilities. It leaves the defense vulnerable in other areas.
How can the defense contain a quarterback like Taylor? It starts with the pass rushers. The guys going after Taylor need to stay disciplined. To some extent, they need to have the mindset that their first job is to keep him in front of them and constrain him to the pocket. Nobody can get out of position to open running lanes.
Below is an example of where the Jets failed to do so in the opener against Cleveland back in September. Calvin Pace took his rush too far up the field, and Josh McCown was able to scramble for a successful gain.
I'm sure you will want to turn your eyes away, but another example is the infamous Eric Smith-Tim Tebow play on another Thursday night four years ago. Smith blitzed on far too sharp of an angle, leaving the edge wide open for a scramble.
Red is the path he took. Powder blue is something resembling the path he should have taken.
A lot of the responsibility will be on the rushers to stay in their designated lanes to prevent big holes from opening.
The Jets also might throw a few wrinkles into their defense to try and contain Taylor. Here is a look New England threw at him in Week 2.
The Pats were in man to man with a deep safety. They dedicated one player (circled in yellow) to play Taylor as a potential scrambler. This is called a spy.
When a mobile quarterback breaks a big scramble, it is typical for fans to curse their defensive coordinator for not using a spy. It is not necessarily a look a defense should use full-time, though. On any given pass play, a defense usually has a combination of eleven players either rushing the passer or playing coverage. When you use a spy, you essentially are eliminating a man. You have ten pass rushers and coverage guys because somebody is dedicated to stopping the quarterback.
This might be something the Jets show from time to time, but I am not even sure they have a player athletic enough to match up with Taylor one on one in the open field. That guy might have been Calvin Pryor, but he is out. I would not trust the linebackers, and the secondary is so decimated that there are going to be inexperienced safeties on the field.
A lot of this will fall to the defensive line both staying in lanes and finishing Taylor the first time they get the chance rather than letting him slip into the open field.