After a game in which they surrendered one sack, the Jets got a lot of praise for the way they protected their passer. How much of this was due to a steady diet of quick passes. The extent to which protection was good and the extent to which the gameplan could be credited was unknown.
Watching the game back again, I was less impressed by the protection the Jets had than I expected to be. Note that I'm saying protection, not just offensive line play. An important part of protection is on the quarterback. As the old saying goes, God helps quarterbacks who help themselves. There were just too many plays on big downs where the protection did not hold up for one reason or another. Here are a bunch of third down plays that display it.
Here is a simple one. Ben Ijalana is beaten on a speed rush, and Ryan Fitzpatrick's arm is hit as he is throwing, a potentially dangerous combination. Ijalana is slow to react to Carlos Dunlap, and the Jets pay the price. For his part, I cannot help but feel like Fitzpatrick had plenty of room to step up in this pocket to step up and deliver a clean pass.
Now here is one I think I have to put mainly on Fitzpatrick's plate. The Bengals get a free runner, and the Jets are clearly not in an optimal protection.
We talked last week about the deception the Bengals could show with some of the looks they give at the line of scrimmage. On this play, you have the offensive line all flowing to the right of this picture, but the two circled guys drop into coverage. Instead, you have blitzers coming from the left of the picture.
As the Bengals have a free runner at the quarterback, two Jets offensive linemen aren't blocking anybody. This was the wrong protection. God helps quarterbacks who help themselves.
The Jets were fortunately bailed out by a personal foul penalty here.
No such luck on this next play as Dunlap beats Ryan Clady with an inside spin move. The Bengals get pressure rushing three here. That's not good.
Here is the one sack the Jets allowed, and it is not a pretty picture for the offensive line, Brent Qvale in particular. Qvale blocks down to help Brian Winters with Geno Atkins, but in doing so loses track of blitzing Vincent Rey. This play is doomed, which is unfortunate, wasting a pretty good effort by Kellen Davis blocking Dunlap one on one. The Bengals' coaching staff did a nice job here. On a big play, they called a blitz that targeted an inexperienced player. It paid off.
Here is another nice blitz call by the Bengals.
Because the Bengals blitz Rey from linebacker, Nick Mangold has to pass Atkins off to James Carpenter one on one. Mangold has to take Rey. Atkins vs. Carpenter is not a good matchup for the Jets.
There is a small window where Mangold could possibly pass Rey off to Brian Winters and then provide Carpenter with necessary help on Atkins, but it doesn't happen. Winters would have to pass Dunlap off to Ijalana.
The Jets probably could be in a better protection presnap, but the Jets really just didn't execute here. It is frustrating. There is nowhere for Fitzpatrick to go with this ball before he gets pressured.
If the protection just holds a little longer, though, there is at least a chance because Bilal Powell is behind the defender covering him. The coverage is good, but a good throw put in front of him at least gives this play some chance of success. Since the protection didn't hold, the play is doomed.
Here is a play where the Bengals get another free runner. Matt Forte should have this assignment. Fitzpatrick could have helped this out by moving Forte to the left side of the formation, where the rusher was coming. Ultimately, the pressure doesn't seem to impact the throw. Fitzpatrick gets it out quickly enough and misfires. Still, this was not the protection the Jets needed.
I only showed some third down plays, but I was less than overwhelmed when I watched the way the Jets pass protected. Things need to get better. The quarterback needs to make better reads at the line. The communication needs to be better, and the blocking does too.