I didn’t think Jets offensive coordinator John Morton had a spectacular day at the office on Sunday in Cleveland, but there was one specific play in the fourth quarter that drew my attention as an excellent call.
The quality of coaching is difficult to quantify, and a lot of the work coaches do is out of the public eye so we are left to put together little snippets of information to try and figure out how effective an individual coach is. More on this later. Let’s talk about the play.
The Jets fake a run to Elijah McGuire. McGuire is running right on this play (to the defense’s left), and that is where the bodies are flowing on both sides of the ball.
ArDarius Stewart is coming around to get the ball in the opposite direction where the play is flowing. Myles Garrett is unblocked by design. The hope on this play is Garrett will crash hard looking to tackle McGuire and run himself out of the play.
Garrett doesn’t, and he ends up one on one with Stewart in space. Stewart still manages to make a move to shake Garrett and rip off a nice first down gain.
Why do I like this play so much? There are many reasons.
A. It is a good use of Stewart’s skillset. You see a player’s position on those TV graphics, but many players have skillsets that fall outside traditional position designations. At this point, Stewart profiles as something of a wide receiver/running back hybrid. As he works to develop his route running, a play like this is a smart way to utilize the skills he brings to the table.
B. This play is designed to make a young player in his first game think. We all know Garrett is an excellent physical talent, but he is inexperienced. It is good to test out a young guy and force him to diagnose a play rather than let him pin his ears back and rely on his natural talent.
C. Even if Garrett diagnoses the play correctly, this play is still in a position to work. Again, Garrett is an excellent talent, but tackling a skill player one on one in space is not in his wheelhouse. It isn’t a place where he is comfortable yet, and it shows.
D. This is a play the rest of the league will see on film. A number of run plays leave the edge defender farthest away from the play unblocked by design. The offense only has so many blockers so there are plays where it doesn’t make sense to use a one to try and take out a defender that far away from the play. Of course, an explosive edge player who is unblocked can sometimes dart across the field and make a tackle to ruin the play. You have to do something to deter him. The Jets are speaking to the rest of the league with this play saying, “If we don’t block the backside edge defender, he’d better not go too far up the field because he might run himself out of the play, and we might pitch the ball to Stewart.”
Not to make too much out of a moderately successful play, but when a playcall speaks to you on four levels it’s a sign of a coach thinking things through.