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A Look at the Fake Punt the Jets Stopped

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

There have been woes on special teams for the Jets over these last few years so it is worth noting that they stopped a fake punt on Sunday against Miami.

The first thing that stuck out was that they were not fooled at all. Something at the right side of the defensive formation (left side of the offensive formation) gave it away. You can see Julian Stanford (51) and Marcus Williams (20) both point right. I watched this over and over and couldn’t figure out exactly what it was. Maybe it was the identity of the gunner the Dolphins had on that side of the field, but I couldn’t figure out who it was based on the replay.

Either way, you see the Jets all make hand signals after Stanford and Williams see this, presumably to prepare for a fake punt.

It is a bit difficult to piece together what happened after that, but I did my best here.

There were five eligible receivers on this play.

One of them was the gunner/receiver at the bottom of the screen. He is coming in motion. Charone Peake has him.

At the snap, Peake lets him go across the field and leaves him open.

Initially I was going to call that a bust in coverage, but the more I watched it, the more I felt like this might have been a design. The punter is moving to his and the receiver’s right (Peake’s left). The receiver is running to his and the punter’s left (Peake’s right).

It is important to remember this is not a natural thrower. It might be a case where the Jets are just coached up to let that guy go either to dare the punter to try and make that throw or just not believe the punter can make that throw. Again, this isn’t a quarterback. He isn’t used to scanning the entire field, particularly the part he is running away from. He certainly isn’t adept at either throwing all the way across the field against his body or resetting his feet.

The Jets may very well be saying, “We dare you to try that throw. We don’t think you can hit it, and we will tip our cap if you can.”

Either way, Peake leaves his man and flows in the direction of the play.

Elijah McGuire seemed to have the personal protector, but Bruce Carter forced the protector to throw a punt so McGuire was also able to flow in the direction of the play and just use his body to clog passing lanes like Peake.

The other three eligible receivers are covered man to man. The receiver at the top of the picture was never going to see the ball. Marcus Williams has coverage in the middle, and Terrence Brooks has coverage at the bottom.

Williams isn’t in great position to cover his man running a crossing route, but he can’t get open because of all of the traffic. He is the guy McGuire is standing in front of in one of the pictures above as the ball is in the air. Meanwhile, Brooks is in excellent position in the circle.

He picks the ball off.

What’s the point here? This happened because the players saw the fake punt coming. We get on the coaches plenty when things go wrong so they deserve credit when things go right. The Jets were totally prepared to read the fake punt coming and stop it. The coaches clearly taught them something to watch, and they were ready when they saw it.