Pass protection is partially about the offense line doing its job and partially about the quarterback executing correctly. One play from Sunday’s game against the Chargers provides us with an example.
The Chargers tipped a blitz from the slot. There is one surefire way to beat a blitz. Have the receiver run a route to the spot the blitzer vacated.
That is what the Jets do indeed. Jermaine Kearse takes his route to the spot on the field where the blitzer lined up and then vacated to rush the passer. You can even see Bryce Petty is in position to throw the ball. The Jets pick up the slot guy well.
Then Petty simply doesn’t fire. He eats the ball. and takes a sack as a different blitzer goes up the middle.
What happened with the protection? The big problem was Matt Forte. The veteran running back filled the wrong gap to pick up the blitzing linebacker.
When you watch a play like this live from the broadcast angle, you might get frustrated with the protection. And you would have a point. This wasn’t blocked well by the Jets.
The bigger culprit here is Petty, though. Before the protection broke down, he had an open receiver. All he had to do was deliver the ball accurately for a positive gain. He held onto the ball too long. In the NFL, passing windows close quickly. You don’t get away with holding the ball for an extra second to stare at an open receiver. The opportunity is lost if you do. This was a quick three step drop that required a quick read.
Petty isn’t an experienced starter, and there are moments where he has issues that you can blame on inexperience. This isn’t one of them. You can’t have a play much more basic than a three step drop with an open receiver right in front of you. When a player has been working for three years and still can’t master this play, it is a very bad sign.