In a surprising outcome, the New York Jets crushed the Detroit Lions in Week One, deafeating them 48-17. Even those who predicted a Jets win were not expecting such a resounding outcome.
The post-game talk has all centred around multiple Jets players commenting that they ‘knew’ the Lions play calls. While this may have been exaggerated, it definitely did feel like the Jets had an upper hand. Todd Bowles said the likes of Darron Lee completely exaggerated, but admitted his team were very well drilled and stuck to their assignments, especially on defence.
While the Jets defence created turnovers and made Matthew Stafford look like a backup, the offensive unit also showed real signs of promise. Nobody really hyped this unit coming into the year and from a fantasy football perspective, it was a team of ugly ducklings and guys that people would maybe take a late-round flier on. Isaiah Crowell had a monster game, and Sam Darnold showed real poise, hitting a variety of weapons at every level of the field.
What impressed more than any of this, was the play-calling of Jeremy Bates. John Morton did a good job last year and I personally criticised the reasons he was fired for, but Bates may make any kind of hate towards the Front Office for that move fade away very quickly. He used a very versatile run game with zone and power concepts, and a lot of cool plays on offence. Below I will take a look at some of the plays of the game.
Sam Darnold’s Pick Six
“Here we go again.” This was the likely attitude of the Jets faithful when Darnold threw a pick-six on his first ever NFL pass. In fairness, he joined some very good company such as Brett Favre and Jameis Winston, but it was not an ideal start.
When I first saw the play, I was critical of Bates’ play call. It seemed to be a bit of a complicated play and a throw that would have been tough to complete. This is a shining example of why you need to watch plays twice, because while it was a risky play call to hand to your rookie QB on his first ever pass, the design was pretty good.
The Jets lined up in 12 personnel with two wideouts stacked to the right hand side. Immediately, the Lions defensive look appears to be man coverage, with Nevin Lawson in press coverage against Quincy Enunwa, and Quandre Diggs in off coverage against the speedy Robby Anderson. Bates motions Quincy Enunwa across the formation in order to do two things. The first thing is to identify the coverage. The second purpose,is for Enunwa to run block. Eric Tomlinson is more of a blocking tight end, but the Jets use him in the pass game on this particular play. When Enunwa motions, Slay does not go with him, which should alert Darnold that this is not man coverage. If it was man coverage, the linebackers would have bitten on the play action and there would have been a lot of space on the left-hand side for Isaiah Crowell to exploit on the wheel route.
The concept here is great, the motion should identify the coverage. The idea of using a blocking tight end in the pass game is something Sean Payton did a lot in last years playoff games against the Vikings and the Panthers, with Josh Hill providing value there. The route combination attacks multiple levels of the field, and a wheel route is a great misdirection route to put alongside a flood concept. Sadly, Quandre Diggs makes an excellent read and nullifies the play. Darnold did stare down Crowell which was a huge problem but with no other receiver near him, it would have been hard for Darnold to manipulate Diggs. This was a tough play to give a rookie QB on his first ever throw and on the road, but the concept was pretty good.
Welcome to the NFL, Sam Darnold. Here’s a pick six for you….. pic.twitter.com/t3cQwbeted
— Doug Rush (@Doug_Rush) September 10, 2018
Something the Jets will likely do a lot of this year is run flood concepts. Bates believes in attacking multiple levels of the field at once, and a flood concept is a good way to do this. The Jets also have one of the top five deep threats in the NFL in Robby Anderson, so he will provide a legitimately scary clearout option on such plays.
The play below is a basic flood concept. The Lions come out in a soft zone coverage, which was part of the problem. Running constant zone concepts allowed the Jets flood plays to thrive, and this was likely some of what the Jets were referring to when they talked about knowing the opposition plays.
The Jets come out in 11 personnel, and the Lions come out in zone coverage. The corners are engaged in press coverage but the Jets expected a zone coverage.
Twitter: Flood concepts were key for the Jets in week one and I think they will be all year. Anderson clears things out and… https://t.co/UyFCMGG1sE (@HulbertJoe)
Robby Anderson clears things out, Quincy Enunwa runs the out, and Terrelle Pryor attacks underneath. Darius Slay is responsible for the deep zone so vacates quickly, and the Lions drop seven bodies. From a Lions perspective, they just were not prepared pre-snap. They had multiple bodies assigned over the middle even though the real threats were the Jets three top receivers stacked to the left.
This is a simple play but a very effective one. The Jets have a legitimate man coverage beater in Robby Anderson so they should be able to attack underneath coverage all year. Again, the route combination attacks different zones and Darnold makes the right throw. Flood concepts and pre-snap movements are the things I saw in abundance in week one.
The Run Game
One of the criticisms of John Morton was that he didn’t lean heavily on the run game last year, but this was a harsh and misguided criticism. Not only did the Jets lack a bell-cow back, but they had a below average interior line. Spencer Long could fix that from day one, and his impact was obvious in Week One.
Isaiah Crowell’s touchdown run was a great example of what Jeremy Bates has tried to do in New York.
The Jets come out in a power set, but what was great about this play was the double team blocks up front that allowed Crowell to hit the edge. The Jets used a lot of power concepts earlier in the game, such as on his six-yard touchdown which was a counter play. But this play was a zone concept out of a power set.
Jets run a mid zone (aiming point Shell's outside hip) out of 31 personnel to the wing set side. The 5 tech has position in the play side c-gap so Crowell decides to cut it into the b-gap and break the tackle from the 2 tech (Winters fell). Crowell then shows the underrated speed pic.twitter.com/QgAJgYrEzq
— Joe Blewett (@Joerb31) September 14, 2018
The Jets ran a lot of double-team concepts throughout the game, and for the most part they were very succesful. James Carpenter often ran double-team blocks with Max Unger when he was in Seattle, and it is clear that Jeremy Bates wants to re-add that to the Jets offensive scheme.
Zone stuff was not limited to Crowell, as Bilal Powell had a lot of work on outside zone stuff and stretch plays.
Twitter: The Jets run game will be one of the most versatile in the League, zone concepts will be key to how they use Bilal… https://t.co/I7GZjw81G3 (@HulbertJoe)
The play above is a textbook stretch play, and the type of simple play every team needs. Every Jets player moves left and wins their battle, which gives Bilal Powell multiple running lanes to hit.