During an NFL game, fans frequently call for their team’s coach to make adjustments.
Most adjustments you see, however, are game to game. They are made in the lead up to a game.
The story of the coach who sleeps in his office is almost a cliche at this point. NFL coaches pore over film for hours. What they find tends to lead to relatively minor tweaks. They figure out how they can create a matchup they want or tweak a play to get a desired result.
Last week we talked about how the bootleg is becoming one of the Jets’ staples because Sam Darnold likes running it. We also discussed some of the dangers of the play. You can go back and read it for a more in depth discussion. For today I’d like to point out a few adjustments the Jets made on their bootleg play Sunday against the Raiders.
Against Washington the Jets had Robby Anderson on a vertical route to run off a defender and create space underneath. That happens again here.
There are a number of tweaks across the rest of the play, though.
Against Washington the Jets had a pair of receivers run routes toward the sideline. Ryan Griffin snuck out on a short route. Jamison Crowder lined up on the weak side of the formation and ran a route across the field at greater depth. I hope this doesn’t confuse you, but I crossed out Crowder’s actual location on the field for this play and replaced it with a lifelike illustration of where he lined up against Washington.
Instead the Jets had Crowder on the strong side of the formation. He ran the short route, while Demaryius Thomas ran the route from the weak side at greater depth.
Why the adjustment? If you go back to last week’s article, I noted a potential vulnerability in this play against Oakland.
The bootleg is a fake handoff where the entire offensive line gets flowing in one direction.
Meanwhile Darnold moves in the other direction after the fake.
As I noted last week, one of the vulnerabilities in this play comes from the defender at the end of the line. The flow of motion means he is frequently unblocked. Maxx Crosby got a sack on this play the previous week against Cincinnati for that reason.
The adjustment led Griffin to stay in to block Crosby. Crowder took the shorter route and Thomas the deeper route. If Griffin had gone out on a pattern, Crosby would have been unblocked. After the adjustment, he was occupied.
Games are won and lost by these minor changes. To their credit, the Jets’ coaching staff crunched the film this week and came up with the right answer.