During the offseason I want to take a few plays the Jets’ new coaches ran with their old teams and figure out how the Jets will use their personnel to execute a similar call.
This was a second and four call from Gregg Williams’ Browns defense in the first quarter of a Week 16 game against the Bengals last year.
The Browns load the line of scrimmage with seven potential blitzers. If this is a passing play, the Bengals would need to identify both how many of these players are blitzing and the identities of the blitzers. Getting either wrong would lead to the wrong protection being set up and a free runner.
In reality, five of these players are blitzing on the play.
A short presnap motion tips off that the Browns are playing zone coverage.
Instead of following a receiver into motion, the outside corner backs up, which is a sign he is in zone coverage deep. That most likely would be a Cover 3 zone.
This is a pretty conservative coverage for a blitz. Three defenders hold deep responsibilities.
Still there is a degree structural integrity against this formation. One way to beat a blitz is with a quick pass, and all eligible receivers at the line of scrimmage have some sort of defender obstructing them. Ideally somebody would have time to get to the quarterback before a pass gets out.
The real vulnerability against a pass would be the tight end faking a block and then slipping out into his route. The two defenders closest to him are blitzing, and the defender responsible for his zone has a long way to get to that zone as the result of the presnap disguise.
All of this discussion is for naught, though, because this is a run play.
Last year’s Browns and this year’s Jets have different personnel strengths. The Browns had more edge talent that was versatile enough to slide inside. The Jets don’t have a ton of edge talent. Their strength lies more with traditional interior linemen.
On this play, Emmanuel Ogbah slid into one of those interior spots. It appears off the snap like he is actually two gapping on the play. With a two gap assignment, his job isn’t to penetrate. It is to stalemate the offensive lineman he is facing because he is responsible for plays going to either side of that lineman.
Ogbah is an edge player who slides inside for this play, but I could see the Jets with their interior strength having Steve McLendon line up there. This player’s job is to stop the run.
There would be a structural reason for this. The Browns have a linebacker on the edge for this play. They frequently put Jamie Collins there. I am not sure whether Williams will want a player to do things the same way for the Jets, but the team is certainly paying C.J. Mosley a lot of money. Perhaps it is to be a do it all linebacker.
Against a run-pass option, having Ogbah/McLendon responsible for a run to either side, it frees up Collins/Mosley to sit back and clog passing lanes.
As the rate of run-pass options grow, defenses will need to invent ways to deal with them. I think two gapping with a nose tackle type at the end of the line might be something that gains prominence in the future.
This is no RPO, however. It is a zone read. Collins is unblocked at the end of the line. His job is to stay at home. If he overruns the play, the quarterback can keep the ball and take off.
Collins does his job by staying at home, which forces the handoff. This means it is up to the other Browns to win.
Larry Ogunjobi is lined up directly over the ball head to head with the center. This might normally be a signal that he is also two gapping, directly taking the center on. But that is not his job on this play. He is supposed to use his quickness penetrate, shooting the gap between the center and the right guard. This might be Leonard Williams’ job with the Jets.
Meanwhile Myles Garrett is lined up over the left tackle’s inside shoulder. The gap he shoots is between the center and the left guard. He needs to move quickly. Again, the Jets will be less apt to side an edge guy inside than the Browns were so this could be Quinnen Williams’ job.
Jabrill Peppers is one of the blitzers. He is hoping the big boys cause so much commotion that he can side through the gap between the left guard and the left tackle. That will be Jamal Adams’ job with the Jets.
Gerald Avery, a young edge rusher on the light side is given a simple task. He is trying to get up the field and get after the quarterback in case this play is a pass. He isn’t worried about the run. This would be Jachai Polite for the Jets.
That leaves one linebacker and one gap uncovered, the gap between the left tackle and the tight end. The linebacker needs to cover it, but watch on his way there as the play develops to make sure the run doesn’t cut further inside. He’ll need to help if it does. The linebacker for the Browns was Joe Schobert. For the Jets it will be Avery Williamson.
So what happens on the play? Collins (Mosley) stays at home, forcing the handoff.
Ogunjobi (Leonard) is so quick that one blocker can’t handle him. He draws a double team.
This “hidden production” leaves Garrett (Quinnen) one on one with a matchup he dominates. He sheds the block and drops the runner for no gain.
That’s how it was drawn up. It’s up to the players to execute and win their matchups.