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Jets Film Mashup: 2017 QB Protection Report Part 1

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NFL: New York Jets at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Darnold aside, one of the main talking points coming out of the Jets’ 2018 draft campaign was the lack of attention paid to the offensive line. The Jets notoriously struggled up front throughout the 2017 season, yet failed to invest a single draft selection in the unit.

So, I decided to take a look back at each sack the Jets gave up in the 2017 season, singling out the guilty offenders and finding out what the primary issues were.

Bear with me here! I know it is an optimistic time in Jets history, but I hope that this review helps better shape your perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of the Jets offensive line. To balance out the negativity, I’ll provide a couple good plays as well.

Remember that there is such thing as a “bad play” by the offensive line or a particular offensive lineman that is not captured by a sack. There are pressures, hits, and also this thing called the run game where a lineman can contribute to a negative outcome. However, the single worst crime a lineman can commit and the one thing you most want to avoid is allowing a sack. So, those are the plays I’ll focus on.

This is not an exact science, but just one observer’s opinion. Feel free to have a differing opinion on who the culprits are, and do let me know your perspective!

SACKS: Weeks 1 (L @ Buffalo Bills) & 2 (L @ Oakland Raiders)

2ND & 1 AT BUF 41

(10:09) J.McCown sacked at NYJ 48 for -11 yards (J.Poyer).

With Matt Forte in the backfield, Eric Tomlinson in line on the left side, and Brent Qvale in as an extra lineman on the right side, Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse are the only receivers in for this play.

Anderson’s motion tips off man coverage. He is running a deep hitch. Kearse’s underneath route is covered by his man and the linebacker’s zone; McCown never looks that way and is focused on Anderson the whole time. Anderson eventually frees himself up enough space to catch a well-timed throw, but McCown is downed before he can get the ball out.

Looking at Anderson’s route it seems like McCown had enough time to throw the ball at the perfect time to hit him coming out of his break. He looked to be about a split second away from throwing the ball, but that throw was probably going to be late and give the defender a chance to break on the ball. He probably should’ve let go of this here.

Up front, the protection slides right, so the blitzer on the left side is unblocked. If there is anyone to blame up front, it would be the right side of the line, where Brent Qvale and Matt Forte in particular allowed penetration to influence McCown.

This is an all-around bad play, but I think McCown could have easily sensed the blitzer and thrown this away even if he wasn’t going to attempt timing the throw towards the sideline to Anderson.

Culprit: McCown

Accomplices (I’ll assign accomplices who could take part of the blame.): Qvale, Forte

3RD & 9 AT OAK 42

(3:19) (Shotgun) J.McCown sacked at OAK 43 for -1 yards (M.Edwards).

I chalk this one up mainly as a coverage sack. McCown had a good nearly 3 seconds before his pump fake, which is plenty of throwing time. The Raiders had McCown’s first three reads well covered. Jermaine Kearse and Matt Forte are initially open as security blankets that would’ve been better alternatives than the sack, so McCown deserves a little bit of blame for not seeing them open when he still had time and space.

However, by the time McCown was about to look to the right side, he was stepping up into the space vacated by Kelvin Beachum, and when he finally looked in that direction, Kearse was covered and McCown was under chase. Brandon Shell’s man recognized McCown’s escape at the perfect time and disengaged Shell to take down McCown for the one-yard sack. Shell did have good pass protection initially and McCown did step up into this one, but it could have been prevented if Shell had done a better job sealing his man. He gets minor blame.

Culprit: Coverage Sack

Accomplices: McCown, Shell

1ST & 10 AT NYJ 25(03:31)

(3:31) B.Qvale reported in as eligible. J.McCown sacked at NYJ 16 for -9 yards (K.Mack).

There’s not much to say here. One of the most dominant pass rushers in the game blows past both Brent Qvale, as an extra offensive linemen of the right side of the Jets’ formation, and Matt Forte. Both deserve blame. Qvale didn’t even lay a hand on Mack, while Forte’s positioning wasn’t good enough here.

Culprits: Brent Qvale, Matt Forte

3RD & 8 AT NYJ 44

(:21) (Shotgun) J.McCown sacked at NYJ 40 for -4 yards (sack split by M.Edwards and D.Autry).

I think the Jets just got completely out-schemed on this one. The Raiders bring a safety blitz, who comes to McCown untouched, while still dropping six defenders against the Jets’ four receiving options. Every receiver is blanketed; none of them improvise or create any sort of separation.

Up front, the Raiders load four blitzers against three Jets blockers. I can’t see how anybody could’ve done a better job answering against this.

Culprits: Coverage sack, Blitz

1ST & 10 AT NYJ 25

(12:49) (Shotgun) J.McCown sacked at NYJ 17 for -8 yards (K.Joseph). FUMBLES (K.Joseph) [K.Joseph], RECOVERED by OAK-K.Joseph at NYJ 18.

Brandon Shell is the obvious lone culprit as the Raiders generate a sack and fumble recovery on a 3-man rush. The outside linebacker over Shell drops into coverage while the safety blitzes; Shell takes too long to recognize it and is easily beat allowing the strip sack from behind McCown’s back.

Culprit: Shell

POSITIVE PLAY OF THE DAY

Josh McCown stays cool and collected in the pocket; Brandon Shell rewards his gutsiness by effectively sealing Khalil Mack out of the play. McCown drops a 34 yard touchdown in the bucket.

DAMAGE CONTROL REPORT

Total sacks: 5

Culprits:

Coverage vs. Receivers - 2

Brent Qvale - 1

Matt Forte - 1

Josh McCown - 1

Effective Blitz - 1

Brandon Shell - 1

Accomplices:

Josh McCown - 1

Brandon Shell - 1

Brent Qvale - 1

Matt Forte - 1

Of course, this is only my opinion. Pitting blame for these plays is a very subjective matter. Any blame choices you disagree with?