Much is being made out of the way the Jets are utilizing Sheldon Richardson. The star defensive lineman has been moving around the defense a lot. He made appearances at inside linebacker in Monday's loss to Arizona. I think one play really summarizes how out of hand things have gotten about the way this coaching staff is using him.
That's him lined up as a cornerback in the slot against Larry Fitzgerald.
Look, I understand professional coaches know far more than I do about designing a defense. I don't see how you can tell me this is a worthwhile use of Richardson, though.
What are you trying to accomplish here? Are you trying to fool Carson Palmer into throwing at his best receiver when it looks like he's going to be covered by a defensive lineman? Are you just trying to show how creative you can be?
Here's the kicker. Richardson doesn't cover Fitzgerald. It was indeed a disguise. He actually blitzes from the slot.
So essentially what you did was take one of your best pass rushers and make his path to the quarterback a lot longer.
I like outside the box thinking. I like creativity, but sometimes there is a fine line between being unconventional and just being dumb.
Yes, Richardson is a very athletic player. If you coach him up, he probably could be effective as a movable chess piece, the type of guy you could line up over the ball on one play and send into the slot to play zone on another.
Is that really the best way to maximize his value to your team, though? The goal isn't to use a player in as many different ways as is possible. It is to get the most production from him.
If you line up Richardson against most interior linemen, they are going to have a lot of trouble with him. Most interior linemen are going to either be too small to deal with his strength or too slow to deal with his athleticism.
I have a tough time believing the Jets get the most value from Sheldon Richardson by having him line up all over the defense. You can say the Jets already have a couple more interior linemen in Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams, but there are plenty of ways to deploy three interior linemen and play to their strengths. The way the Jets are doing this isn't the way to go.