Sometimes success on a play is partially the result of what happens before the snap. Sunday’s win over Jacksonville wasn’t Robby Anderson’s greatest performance. It isn’t easy facing a talented group of cornerbacks. The Jets still were able to do some things presnap to put him in a position to succeed and make Josh McCown’s reads easier.
On this third down play, John Morton threw in a nice little wrinkle. Anderson started set in the backfield in a running back position. This forced Jacksonville to tip its hand a bit on defense. Cornerback A.J. Bouye looked like he was lining up essentially as a linebacker.
There is only one logical explanation as to why a cornerback like Bouye would be set there. He must have Anderson in man to man coverage. Knowing that the defense is playing man to man before the snap is a big help to a quarterback.
Anderson motioned to his left, and Bouye followed him, confirming the Jaguars were playing man coverage. If Jacksonville was playing man coverage on Anderson, odds are they were playing man against everybody.
This was good to know because the Jets had a route combination to beat man coverage on the left side of the field where Anderson was.
The routes would create a rub where another receiver would be between Anderson and Bouye, giving Anderson space to operate and McCown a clear window to throw.
The result was a completion for a first down.
Later in the game, McCown found Anderson deep that was also aided a bit by presnap motion.
Anderson went in motion again and was followed by Bouye. Bouye following him again was a clue that the Jaguars were playing man to man.
Because Bouye had to move across the field, he wasn’t in a position to get set and obstruct Anderson off the line (if that was the plan which it might or might not have been). Either way, Anderson had a little bit of a cushion off the snap because he was in motion.
The bigger thing here is the motion tipped McCown off to the fact that Anderson would be one on one when he ran a deep route. The Jaguars only have one safety deep so Bouye wasn’t going to have any sort of safety help. When you have a one on one matchup, you can take a shot
That was what McCown did after Anderson ran a good route.
There a number of reasons teams use motion before a snap. It can force the defense to give away more information than it wants and put offensive players in a better position to make plays.