On Thursday, I wrote about the Jets' defense and what Todd Bowles' unit can do from a front, coverage and pressure standpoint. Here I want to look at the New York offense under offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Respected as one of the top offensive minds in football, Gailey is known for adapting his scheme on the fly to fit his personnel.
In the run game, they'll move the ball on the ground out of different personnel packages, including 21 (with fullback Tommy Bohanon) and 12 personnel (with tight ends Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Davis). Schematically, one of the runs I saw the most over the team's first two games was a play Eagles fans should be familiar with, the split zone run.
The split zone is an inside zone run with a tight end coming across the formation to block an edge player on the back side. The offensive line is trying to get movement and create a wall to the front side, with that seal being created on the back side from the tight end crossing the formation. This is a play we've seen in the past from the Eagles' offense.
Chris Ivory gets downhill quickly, makes a man miss and picks up a big run for the Jets against Cleveland. The other run play that the Jets have had success with through the first two games is the counter run, with a pulling guard and a tight end coming play side to lead the way for the back.
This is a downhill gap scheme run that is built to create an alley for the back to burst through to the play side.
Watch Ivory read the block of the tight end and then run for daylight. Ivory is a physical runner who looks to punish defenders at the point of contact. His burst to the hole surprises most the first time they watch him because you don't expect it for a bigger guy, but he's got some juice in his legs and is a tough guy to bring down in the open field.
In the passing game, the Jets may not have a huge vertical element through the air, but they have a quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick who isn't afraid to turn it loose down the field. They try to spread teams out across the field with lots of three- and four-receiver sets and when they do that, you can always look to find veteran Brandon Marshall on the outside as the X-iso receiver.
Marshall isn't an explosive deep threat, but he's one of the toughest covers in the league because he is such a mismatch at the catch point. He's got great length and his ball skills are still among the best in the league. That "my ball" mentality that he has in contested catch situations is exactly what you want from a player of his stature, and he definitely has the ability to take over a game.
Back to Fitzpatrick, a quarterback who everyone always seems to write off but he's always found a way to earn starts wherever he's been throughout his career. "Fitzy" may not have the strongest arm in the world, but his willingness to make tight window throws makes him a big-play threat at any point in the passing game (although sometimes, those big plays may be for the defense).
The Jets are running a "dagger" concept here, with a vertical route from the No. 3 receiver inside and a deep dig from the No. 2. This is a great route concept to get receivers the ball coming into the middle of the field, because that go route inside helps to take away that safety over the top. Fitzpatrick connects with Eric Decker on this play for the first down, and fits the ball in despite the fact that there's an underneath defender dangerously close to the passing lane. You can expect throws like these from the Jets on Sunday.
One concept I noticed the Jets run pretty consistently, in a number of different play designs, was the three-level stretch, or "flood" concept.
One example of this came against the Browns, on New York's biggest pass play of the year. You see three receivers all running routes on one side of the field (flooding that side). Fitzpatrick hits Chris Owusu deep for a 40-plus yard gain. Notice the vertical route going toward the middle of the field, and even though there's a single-high safety in that area, Fitzpatrick lets it rip for the big play.
Here's another example against the Colts last Monday night. You can see the beauty of the three-level stretch in effect, as the vertical route on the outside removes that cornerback near the sideline, giving Fitzpatrick the space needed to hit the out-breaking route at the intermediate level of the field.
While the Jets may not have a true vertical threat on the field (at least not until rookie Devin Smith enters the lineup and he is probable for Sunday), they have vertical concepts built into their playbook that they utilize often. I would expect to see them on Sunday afternoon.
Marshall's ability is a mismatch for opposing defenses. That ability is accentuated even more when the Jets enter the red zone.
Marshall has always been a great jump ball receiver, and his strength at the catch point allows him to outmuscle defenders consistently in those situations.
The Colts knew this, so when they got down near the goal line last week a number of times they bracketed Marshall, even when he lined up in the slot as you can see above. This is where Gailey's game planning comes into focus.
Fully expecting man coverage, Gailey calls for a little rub concept on the opposite side of the field from Marshall. Decker comes in short motion close to the formation and is nearly stacked behind tight end Jeff Cumberland. The tight end releases at the snap, getting upfield breaking toward the pylon. Decker runs right off his hip and heads toward the post. The defender over Decker gets caught up in traffic caused by Cumberland's route, and it's an easy throw and catch for the Jets' touchdown. When they're down in the red zone, expect a lot of Brandon Marshall or some of these rub concepts from the New York passing game.
Fran Duffy is the producer of "Eagles Game Plan" which can be seen on Saturdays during the season. Be sure to also check out the "Eagle Eye In The Sky" podcast on the Philadelphia Eagles podcast channel on iTunes. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University Football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team's games, practices and opponents.