You have probably been hearing it for months. Success in this Jets season will not be judged solely in wins and losses. The development of young talent is a key component for judging the 2017 season.
Of course, these things go hand in hand to a certain extent. When young players produce, it helps the team win. That was certainly the case this past Sunday in the case of Elijah McGuire. The rookie contributed a 69 yard touchdown run in the third quarter, a key play in the victory.
What was especially impressive was how much the success to this play was due to McGuire. I did not come away from it thinking the Jets blocked it particularly well.
It looked to me like your typical zone play. On zone runs, the entire offensive line usually moves in one direction at the snap.
The defense moves with it. This is part of the beauty of zone runs. When more parts are moving on defense, there are more opportunities for somebody to blow and assignment.
As mentioned earlier, the blocking was less than stellar. Wesley Johnson was driven two yards into the backfield.
Brent Qvale didn’t seal his man.
But the movement might have had an effect. I think Myles Jack overran this play just a tad, opening a cutback lane for McGuire.
Brian Winters was blocking him. I don’t think Todd Bowles is going to be sending tape of this block to Canton for the Pro Football Hall of Fame to preserve. This was not great form, and Jack got off the block. But he ws nudged just enough to create a small opening for McGuire to work.
This was going to be a nice gain, but McGuire turned it into a homerun. It didn’t exactly look like he had a ton of room to operate with three defenders converging on him, two of whom disposed of blockers and safety (42) Barry Church coming down to meet him.
Look at this cut McGuire made on Church to break free.
I slowed it down a bit to get a better idea of what happened. Sometimes safeties get a tad too aggressive and get caught off balance leaning in. I don’t think that’s really what happened here. Church probably could have taken a better angle, but I don’t think this was TERRIBLE. I just think McGuire was superior here with a great cut.
This is why people tell you around the time of the Combine that you can’t judge everything based on 40 yard dash time. Some guys play faster than they are timed, and this is a good example. That kind of cut is something the 40 can’t measure, but it is an example of football speed.
Of course, straight line speed also does matter, and it is nice to see a ball carrier who can run away from defensive backs.
Some people will tell you, “I don’t care how good a back is. It doesn’t matter unless you have a good offensive line.”
I think this play does a good job of showing you how faulty that kind of thinking is. It’s not that I think the offensive line is unimportant. I’d much rather have a good line than a bad line. It is true that a good line can blow open huge holes that can make an average back look good.
The reverse is true also, though. A good back doesn’t need as big of a hole to make a big gain as an average back does. A good back can compensate for an average line. I don’t think this was a blocking clinic at all. There were multiple linemen who appeared to lose their assignment. Jack and Church probably could have handled their assignments a little better, and Winters nudged Jack to give McGuire just enough room to operate.
McGuire took a mile from those inches. He didn’t have a ton of room to operate, but he turned it into a homerun. Once you get to the third level of the defense, it is all about the back, and McGuire made this play something special.
This is what shows you a quality back. Anybody can take what is given to them. The good backs in this league take that and then rip off even more for themselves.
Lest you think this was an isolated play, McGuire created more yards with another cut off a catch in the second half.
The way to see more of this is to get McGuire more touches.