Late in the first quarter of yesterday’s game the Falcons scored a touchdown on a pass from Matt Ryan to Kyle Pitts. John Franklin-Myers was the Jets defender in coverage.
This led to a natural question. Why would the Jets have a 290 pound defensive lineman who seldom covers go one on one with the number four pick in the NFL Draft?
I know I was wondering this. Usually I like to wait a day to start reviewing the game so that I can get a fresh look, but this matchup was so confounding that I decided to look at the play last night to figure out what happened.
The Jets were in man coverage on the goal line. The receivers don’t all release into patterns, but I could decipher the theoretical matchups based on post snap activity. Safety Jarrod Wilson has tight end Lee Smith (yellow). Linebacker Jamien Sherwood has fullback Keith Smith (blue). Linebacker Quincy Williams has running back Mike Davis (red).
These matchups aren’t the problem.
The problem comes from the other two receivers. The Falcons have a sixth offensive lineman in the game, Jason Spriggs, who is an eligible receiver on this play.
Spriggs stays in to block, but based on the defensive alignment it stands to reason that linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips would have him in the event he ran a route. Meanwhile JFM is aligned across from Pitts.
It certainly seems like the Jets lined up wrong here. Based on the players we have here, you’d vastly prefer a tight end vs. linebacker matchup with Pitts against Del’Shawn. You’d also want JFM matched up against Spriggs. JFM might not know how to cover, but a lineman like Spriggs probably doesn’t know how to run a route so this would be a fair matchup in the event he released into a pattern.
Additionally against a run, you’d rather have offensive lineman vs. defensive lineman opposed to offensive lineman vs. linebacker.
It’s difficult to say whose fault this is, but based on the personnel grouping it seems like the Jets just aligned incorrectly at the snap. I don’t think the plan was to have JFM cover Pitts.