The Jets scored a whopping 9 times on offense against the Colts in their 42-35 victory. The solidity of the offensive line in pass protection played a large role. Who were the standouts?
Let’s dive in!
Previous editions: Pre 1, Pre 2, Pre 3, Pre 4, W1-DET, W2-MIA, W3-CLE, W4-JAX, W5-DEN
As I will always mention, it is impossible to capture everything with the stats, but with this series I hope to capture the most impactful plays accumulated by each linemen, both positive and negative, to help better our perspective on their production levels. Every single snap does matter, and here we will only be grading a small portion of those snaps, but this data can still help shape our opinions on players more properly and truly. Do not use these numbers as final judgement, but as useful evidence.
Here’s what I’ve been tracking:
- Stuffs (runs for 2 yards or less and no first down) allowed in the run game
- Rushing first downs assisted
- “Setup runs” assisted (which I now define as a 5+ yard pickup on 1st-3rd down that did not result in a first down). Despite not resulting in a first down, these kinds of pickups are still positive plays that deserve to be tracked.
- Sacks allowed
- QB hits allowed
- QB pressures allowed (pressure counts include all throws affected by pressure, forced rollouts/dodged defenders, forced throwaways, throwing directly over/around a deeply penetrating defender, footwork/mechanics forced to adjust due to pressure, etc.)
- Deflections allowed (occurrences when allowing the currently engaged defender to bat/deflect a pass at the line)
- Open field assists (blocking assists for significant extra yardage/first down by any player, OL or skill position, in the pass game while a pass receiver has the football)
- Pass blocking snaps (Pass blocking snaps now counted for all players rather than just the base five linemen. Team pass attempts + sacks)
- Penalties (Total accepted, yards, first downs/scores wiped out, and declined)
Here are the numbers for the Jets in Week 6!
I’ve added a new column this week detailing the pressure percentage (sacks + hits + pressures divided by protection snaps) allowed by each individual offensive lineman and the team as a whole. Each lineman’s pressure rate section is color-coded according to the average rate expected of their position. After doing some research on the subject, I’ve found that tackles tend to average around 9%, guards 6%, and centers 3%. Teams usually allow around a 35% pressure rate on average - a great game would be about a 25% rate or lower, and a poor game would be about a 45% rate or higher.
So, with those numbers out there, we can get a better perspective on what good or bad performances look like based on position.
On the whole, the Jets had a solid day in pass protection against the Colts. While the Colts rarely brought more than 4 rushers, the Jets ran a lot of longer-developing passing plays and still only allowed only 9 pressures and 2 sacks on 33 protection snaps, 33.3%. Of the two sacks, one was a clear missed assignment on one of two tight ends, while the other was more of a coverage sack that occurred after over 3 seconds. On the chart, I did not assign individual blame for either.
Both tackles played very well, marking two straight impressive games for each following a horrendous outing in Jacksonville. Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell each allowed only two pressures and no sacks or hits - following an outing against Denver in which Beachum allowed only 1 one hit and Shell allowed no pressure. 9 of the duo’s combined 26 pressures allowed on the year came against the Jaguars.
It was a different story for the interior. Spencer Long allowed 2 more pressures, bringing his total to 9 over the last four games, including 3 sacks. That is far from acceptable for a center. That’s a position where the league’s best allow single-digit pressure numbers over the entire year, and any game with multiple pressures is not a very good protection performance. Brian Winters allowed 4 pressures, and James Carpenter allowed 3.
The skill position players did a great job chipping in, going pressure-free.
In the run game, the Jets unsurprisingly were not as dominant as they were a week ago. The Jets struggled to run the ball outside as the tight ends had a rough day in the run blocking department. The interior was boom or bust, springing some big runs with strong blocks but also allowing quite a few stuffs.
Spencer Long has had a really rough go at it the past few weeks. In addition to protection struggles, Long has seen issues with his snap accuracy appear recently. On Sam Darnold’s lone interception in the game, Long delivered a low snap and then stepped on Brian Winters’ foot, causing him to get obliterated and forcing Darnold to get rid of the ball. Despite a good decision taking the 1-on-1 with Robby Anderson outside, Darnold can’t get his feet set due to the quick arrival of the pressure and lays out a very weak underthrow that Malik Hooker is able to pick off without competition.
This throw from Darnold to Anderson is absolute money, and the protection is perfect against a 4-man rush with help from Chris Herndon - who has now protected on 17 plays this season without allowing a pressure.
The Colts very rarely challenged the Jets with more than 4 rushers, while the Jets often used extra help from their skill position players. This made for a lot of dominant protection snaps like this one.
The Jets still only managed a decent pass protection game in spite of the favorable numbers they were playing with for most of the game. Why? As illustrated in the game log above, the interior struggled again. They were very nearly victimized by stunts a few times, while Winters and Carpenter both saw a few individual losses in which they were overpowered and allowed penetration into the pocket. Here, Winters is pushed straight into Darnold and forces him out of the pocket, contributing to preventing Darnold from seeing an open Herndon for a potential big gain or touchdown.
The run game was very hit or miss. The Jets tried to get the inside zone game working, but often failed to find success as the Colts linebackers did a good job staying disciplined to their gaps and the Jets often failed to get enough horizontal movement to give the backs opportunities to win 1-on-1 matchups. Carpenter was very volatile. Here, he misses on the cut block and allows Jihad Ward to channel Isaiah Crowell inside for the stuff.
Speaking to that volatility, on the play just before the one above, the Jets sprung Crowell loose for a 21-yard run with perfect execution from all five linemen and no help from tight ends. Great job by Long getting to the second level to move the linebacker, Winters and Carpenter sealing out the tackles to create the inside hole, Shell protecting the backside, and Beachum stonewalling the edge defender.
Let’s take a look at the blocking numbers for the Jets on the year.
Here are some general takeaways from me on the first six games:
- Kelvin Beachum is making a strong play to be one of the Jets’ top options at left tackle in 2019. Now, the Jets absolutely need to work hard at finding a long-term solution/upgrade after this year. However, that will be a tough task as left tackle is a premium position that rarely sees elite talent hit the open market, and the Jets certainly do not want to enter the draft without a viable option there. Beachum has been consistent in pass protection and has been a good fit in this running scheme. He’s 29, and will be 30 at the start of next season. The Jets might be hard-pressed to find a better option for Week 1 of 2019 if he continues his current level of play.
- James Carpenter is not a bum but his best days, with the Jets at least, seem to be clearly behind him. He’s not the stalwart pass protector he once was and he continues to look miscast in the run game. That being said, he is still capable of the occasional punishing run block.
- Spencer Long needs to play a lot better to avoid being cut after this season, as the Jets can part ways with no penalty. He was supposed to be a major upgrade over Wesley Johnson, but to this point, he barely seems like an upgrade at all.
- Brian Winters reminds me of an NBA player who will be a household name on the highlight reels but isn’t actually an efficient basketball player. Winters’ best plays are tremendous - he pummels opponents on a regular basis. However, he is too often pushed into the pocket in pass protection and is not doing a good job in the run game, getting beat to the spot on outside zones quite frequently.
- Brandon Shell is one of my favorite young players on offense, and I think he should be around for a while. He has done a respectable job at a very difficult position in only his second season as a regular starter. He only passed 16 career starts back in Week 3. I like how he takes full advantage of his length in pass protection, while he’s looked much more fluid in the run game.
- Overall, this unit has performed more or less around league average this year. It’s a unit devoid of an unbreakable superstar, but also has a strong weakest link, as no player on this line has been a complete liability. Long-term, there is a lot of work to do, but for now, they’ve played above the low expectations. Lots of credit is also due to Jeremy Bates and the tight ends for their heavy involvement in the team’s blocking - they’ve been very useful in this area.