Big Dogs Breakdown – Jets Colts

So this is probably the break down I’m most excited to write because this is the first game I wasn’t able to watch on TV(Because I was at the game, no big deal). My initial thoughts regarding the game were that the Jets played opportunistic football, causing 4 turnovers and getting 20 points off those turnovers. Going into the game if you were to tell me that the Jets were not going to be able to run the ball at all (36 rushes for 107 yards 3.0 avg) and still put up 42 points I wouldn’t have believed you. The Colts on the other hand were able to run the ball very effectively (23 rushes 127 yards 5.5 avg) which could have been because the Jets were playing coverage all game. This was a shoot out in every sense with each team only punting it away 1 time. The Jets after being able to pressure Case Keenum all day last week, struggled to generate consistent pressure on Luck which lead to big passing numbers. Jason Meyers broke the Jets franchise record for made field goals in a game, and broke the NFL record for most field goal yardage in a game. While that is all positive the Jets need to do a better job of putting the ball in the end zone. The Jets are on a winning streak for the first time since weeks 3-5 last year and are going to look to extend it to a 3 game streak and finish off the home stand in style against the Vikings.

Alright onto the game:

1st Quarter:

The Jets have started slow all year, coming into Sunday they were getting out scored 24-7 in the first quarter this year. The Jets started the game in probably the best way possible with a Morris Claiborne Pick Six on the second play of the game. It was the fastest defensive TD in Jets history. Those are the plays that usually happen against the Jets not for the Jets. Colts running back Marlon Mack bobbles the ball, Adams keeps it alive and Morris takes it the other way for 6. I’d like to think that this is redemption for Morris who dropped 3 picks last week.

On the Colts next drive they did march down the field against the Jets in pretty convincing fashion. However the drive should have ended with a INT when Luck threw a pass that hit Parry Nickerson right square in the wiener. Nickerson is a late round pick so I guess my expectations shouldn’t have been too high for his play this year. However with all the reports coming out of training camp I was expecting more from him. Skrine is an unrestricted free agent after this year so I’m sure the Jets were hoping they had found his replacement in Parry, but the early returns haven’t been great. One thing to note is that he did play predominately outside in college so hopefully as he gets more familiar with playing in the slot his play will improve.

After the game Jamal Adams after the game had the following to say about his performance against the Colts, “I sucked”. He was referring primarily to his play on the Colts opening TD drive, in which he gave up catches of 15 and 34 yards on consecutive plays. Dating back to last year Adams has struggled at the top of routes with the physicality of tight ends. Adams always seems to be in position but just slightly off from making the play. Take the 34 yard gain shown (25)

He’s in good position at the top of the route, gets his head turned and just misses a pass break up. You can see the receiver extend his arm slightly as he jumps and this is enough to knock Adams out of position. Adams has improved this year as a pass defender but in order to become elite he needs to make these plays. Adams gets tested twice a year with the best tight end in NFL history so he will have his work cut out for him. He still has some work to do but you can see from the film he is close to becoming the player we all thought when we drafted him.

Two plays after this the Colts went in for their first score of the game, shown below.Colts 1st TD

Jets rush four and are able to force Luck to step up in the pocket, but the most important place to watch is the bottom of the play with Morris Claiborne and Parry Nickerson. So the Jets look to be in cover 3 zone, with Maye, Roberts and Claiborne in charge of deep thirds and they are running four man zone underneath sitting 12 yards off the line of scrimmage. There is a clear miscommunication between Nickerson and Claiborne as Morris is playing man and leaves an entire third of the field wide open. Luck does a good job of recognizing this and forcing Maye to make the choice on who to cover as Chester Rodgers is running toward the opposite pylon and Marcus Johnson is running a post. Whether Nickerson was supposed to be in man or Claiborne was supposed to be in zone, there was a miscue that lead to a walk in TD. For as much right as the Jets defense did right Sunday they still game up 34 points and 428 yards.

The first Jets drive would see a reoccurring theme from Sundays game, move the ball with ease between the 20’s and then stall in the redzone.(If you read last week you know that I would sometimes reference statistics but not know where I read them but still site them as fact. This week I decided to make sure I took down the correct stats and where I saw them so I wasn’t just spewing information out of my ass.) Coming into Sunday the Jets were ranked 32nd in Red Zone efficiency, they went 1-6 to extend their lead for worst red zone offense. So far this year at home the Jets have a red zone efficiency of 18.18%, that’s terrible, if you want to beat good teams you have to punch the ball in when you get into the Red Zone.

Aside from stalling in the Red Zone the Jets first offensive drive of the game was a good one. They were able to stay in front of the sticks and the only were faced with 2 3rd downs. (One they didn’t convert obviously) It’s clear early on that the Colts were not going to let the Jets run all over them like the Jets had done to the Broncos. The Colts were selling out to stop the run, linebackers breaking down hill at the snap of the ball, Safeties coming up hard into the box. Like I mentioned in the intro the Colts did a good job of limiting the Jets running attack and Darnold was able to make them pay.

Chris Herndon got his first career TD in this game and also had another catch for 24 yards seen below.

Herndon Moss

The Jets are without a Full Back on the roster so they line TE’s up in that position. While it does hurt when using a tight end as a lead blocker in the running game it can lead to plays like this where a full back wouldn’t have been able to make. Play action draws the whole Colts defense toward the line of scrimmage and Darnold recognizes he has Herndon 1 on 1 with a safety on a wheel route. Herndon makes a great leaping catch over the defender to move the Jets into field goal range. This is the second time Herndon has made a play like this where he has a juggling catch over a defender. He did it against the Jags but it was called back in that game due to holding. The Jets are utilizing their athletic tight ends more and look for that to continue as the season goes on.

Darnold on the Jets first drive on play action passing was 4/4 for 45 yards, if teams want to stop the run Darnold needs to be able to continue to make them pay with play action.

Jets were able to force a 3 and out and get the ball back, with a chance to go up by two scores and send Metlife into a frenzy. Instead Darnold threw a pick to Malik Hooker. Below the offensive line is shown on that play and it might give an indication on the poor pass and decision.

Darnold Pick

Brian Winters is RUN OVER right at the snap of the ball, causing early pressure directly in Darnolds face. Darnold doesn’t see the safety drifting over, throws off his back foot and it’s an easy INT for Hooker. Now I love tossing it deep to Bob Anderson as much as the next guy, but this is one of those situations were it might just be better to take the sack. It was 3rd down so I’m sure Darnold was trying to make something happen, but sometimes it’s better to eat the ball.

I saw Connor Hughes of the Athletic in his write up say that this play and the incompletion in the back of the end zone to Robbie were the two plays that impressed him most from Darnold on Sunday. Now I don’t have a subscription to the Athletic so I wasn’t able to see his justification for saying that, and it may have been just trying to get people to read his article but to see that was confusing. I mean nothing about the above play was impressive, he just threw one up for grabs that resulted in the Colts getting the ball in field goal range. I saw some say his elbow may have been hit which would explain why the ball floated. However when a QB has an 80% completion percentage, 2 TDs, and the offense scores 35 points, I’m not going to try and find positives in an INT.

I saw the following stat from some Pro Football Focus person on twitter about Darnold over the last 2 weeks. Sam Darnold over the last two weeks: 89.8 passing grade (2nd) 71.4 deep accuracy% (3rd) 87.2 accuracy% with clean pocket (4th). Now I don’t take PFF grades or analysis as gospel like I know some people like to, but when you watch Darnold play from a clean pocket he is able to deliver incredible balls. Over the past two weeks the line has done a good job of keeping him upright and giving him a clean pocket to throw from. The Vikings are coming up and they have 7 sacks in the last two games. The Jets will need to make it a priority to be ready for all the exotic blitzes Mike Zimmer will throw their way.

The Jets are big fans of sending a receiver in motion to either go into the flat for a quick throw or as a decoy to better diagnose what the defense is giving them. They sometimes hand the ball off on a Jet Sweep type play as well. My questions is have they ever gained yards on the Jet sweep? They tried again this week to Enunwa and it was stopped for no gain. I’m truly asking anyone reading if it has ever been successful because I don’t remember it ever working.

On the last play of the first quarter both Darron Lee and Avery Williamson destroyed the respective crossing routes who dared enter their zones. This did however leave a meteor sized gap in the middle of the field that allowed the Colts to pick up 18. Good play design by the Colts to draw the backers up from their zones and sit a receiver right down where they left.

This is something I expect teams to do moving forward, the Jets were beat so bad with crossing routes against the Jags, I expect teams to try and force the Linebackers to decide between taking away the crosser or staying put in their zones. One way the Jets can help this is to generate early pressure so the routes don’t have time to develop.

2nd Quarter:

To start the second quarter, Leo jumps off sides then the Colts get an easy 6 yards to take the ball to the 1. Throughout the game the Colts did a good job of giving their backs a lane to run through. Colts had 1st and Goal from the half yard line and the Jets were able to hold them to a field goal. This was a big time stop, two plays stopped in the back field and then a great pass break up by Williamson. Great job here by the Jets defense. For as bad as the Jets red zone offense was the whole game, the Jets defense stepped up big in the 2nd quarter in the red zone.

Coming off the momentum of a big goal line stand,  it would have been  a good time for the offense to put a drive together,  however Enunwa fumbled on the first play. It was a classic Bates WR screen and Quincy just got the ball knocked out from behind. Jets need to do a better job of holding onto the ball, Anderson has a few fumbles, Enunwa has a few now too, and Powell has fumbled multiple times this year as well. Everyone was worried about Darnold fumbling coming into the league but so far this year it’s been the skill position players with the butter fingers.

Watching the game real time I was thinking to myself that the Colts receivers are dropping some catchable passes and looking back the Colts had 6 total drops on Sunday.

Long needs to do a better job coming off the ball, as he has consistently been blown back into the back field on running games. I pointed it out against the Jags and I’ve noticed it a few times already in this game. The below play shows what I’m talking about. (26)

The timing of this play is completely thrown off and while the Jets do get positive yardage it had the potential for a lot more. Winters is pulling but because Long is blown off the ball he is unable to get to the hole and make a block. You can see if he is able to get Leonard blocked this play has the potential to be big.

Brandon Snell had another holding call that negated a 11 yard Thomlinson catch and run and put the Jets in 2nd and 14 from the 8. Never a situation you want to be in, and it was a dumb penalty that he didn’t need to commit as he was leaving to block down field anyway.

It’s been well documented that the Jets love the WR screen and they were able to play off of that later in the game on the Herndon TD. I also didn’t notice any batted passes this game so hopefully the Broncos game in that regard was an aberration. (27)

The above was a big play for the Jets, which helped them get the ball in good field position and eventually lead to a TD. You can see the Colts are in a jumbo single back formation with 3 TEs to one side of the formation. Shepard does a good job of taking on the double team which allows Williamson fill the hole Turbin is looking to go through. This causes Turbin to bounce outside into the awaiting arms of Jamal Adams who does a good job of getting forehead on ball and causing the fumble. Shepard hasn’t been great this year, nothing he has done has really jumped off the screen. One thing I do see is a good get off the ball and hustle to the ball. He will get better at disengaging the linemen which will allow him to be better in rushing the passer, but he is extremely physical which is something you like to see from a young player.

Normally after a turnover I like to see teams take a shot down field because the defense is going to be pressing. The Colts were pressing bringing 8 players into the box the first two plays after the fumble but the Jets instead decided to run the ball both plays.

One theme throughout the day was that when the Jets needed a big completion, the middle of the field was where they looked. Jeremy Bates clearly reads my breakdowns and saw that I said the middle of the field was gonna be open all game. The Jets utilized, slants, shallow crosses and deep ins to take advantage of the Colts eager linebackers who were focused on stopping the run.

The Jets punched the ball in for their second TD of the game in the second quarter on a great curl route by Pryor and great anticipation by (28)

Darnold is cocking back to throw the ball before Pryor is even turned around. Sam fires it into a tight window and Pryor gets his 2nd TD in 2 games.

Avery Williamson got his first pick as a Jet last Sunday and that makes 4 total on the year for Lee and Williamson. Last year the middle linebackers combined for zero INTs. Both Linebackers have showed off impressive hands on their INT’s this season. The Jets have 15 turnovers this year, they had 20 all of last year.

I’m sure it’s because I’m a pessimist but I was almost certain Meyers was going to miss at least 1 field goal Sunday. It might be because he’s missed a 30 yarder already this year but I had little faith especially as the game continued on. My thinking was he’s made them all so far this one will be the miss, that miss never came.

Obviously Bob Anderson didn’t have the game he did last week in terms of big plays, but the Jets still did keep the Colts honest with shots down field. Most notably after the Williamson INT, Darnold was a foot away from connecting with Bob on 22 yard TD. This is the other play that impressed Connor Hughes the most. Again I didn’t read the article but if he put the ball where he did a week ago Bob catches it for 6.

To end the half Darnold was able to execute a flawless 2- minute drill with only :42 seconds left on the clock. The Jets were able to exploit the Colts in the middle of the field to gain chunk plays to Pryor and Kearse. In the final 2:45 the Jets outscored the Colts 13-0.

Besides the Colts second drive in the first quarter they weren’t able to really move the ball against the Jets. They had 6 points off turnovers but other than that, they either punted or turned the ball over. All things considered the Jets defense played a hell of a half of football.

3rd Quarter:

The Jets were able to start the second half the same way they ended the 1st by moving the ball against the Colts defense. 6 plays, 72 yards ending in Chris Herndons first career TD.

Now I’m a big fan of Madden, and anyone who has played Madden over the years knows how effective the slant route is. Below is a clip from the Jets first drive of the half. All receivers but Kearse run slant routes and Darnold waits for Pryor to get open. Easy pitch and catch for a gain of 19. The Jets did this it seemed whenever they wanted to throughout the game. So much so that I commented to my brother how they were just running slants down the field.

Madden Slants

You can see above the Jets are in an empty set and they did this a lot throughout the day and it was very effective in allowing Darnold to diagnose the coverage and deliver quick strikes to his receivers.

Now I’m sure by now you have all seen the Herndon TD replayed, so here it is again.

Herndon TD

The line backers and secondary were going all out all game to stop the run and the screen plays, and Bates does a masterful job of exploiting that. Three Colts defenders break down field to try and stop the screen and it allows Herndon to get buck naked down the seam. Then a simple block from Leggartt allows a walk in touchdown. A great play by Bates. I was hard on Bates after Cleveland and Jacksonville but he has done a good job these past 2 weeks in opening up the playbook.

Rather than really putting the Colts away the Jets allowed them to stay in the game, giving up 2 long runs which were the result of poor tackling at the line of scrimmage and poor play by the linebackers. If Darron Lee continues to play well in coverage and get INTs then I’m okay with his bad plays against the run, but if he starts slipping in coverage the Big Dog will get very critical of him. He gets engulfed by blockers to often and on both the Colts long runs they ran directly at him. This is something I would expect teams to continue to do until he proves he can play the run better. Above I give Bates credit for the well designed play for a TD and then the Colts score on a similar play. They fake the WR screen, this draws Nickerson up and allows Ebron to run down the seam for an easy TD. I wasn’t going to show it but I have to point out how bad Nickerson was beat on the pump (31)

Yikes, just like the Colts, the Jets are fooled by the fake screen.

Jets did a good job of picking up chunk plays when they needed to move the sticks throughout the game. It seemed throughout the day that the Jets were able to avoid negative plays. The blocking for the most part was solid with a few minor hiccups here and there but being able to avoid negative runs and penalties was a big part of the offenses big day.

A well designed play by Frank Reich shown below to start off a Colts drive. It seemed during the Super Bowl and all last year the buzz word around the league was RPO, (Run, Pass, Option). The below play is a prime (32)

The GIF may be a little shorter than intended but Luck has the option to give to the RB, which he does, or pull it and pass. If Lee commits to the hole, Luck pulls it and has an open Ebron, he instead elects to hand it off for a 11 yard gain. They are optioning Lee who is hesitant and it allows the Colts a nice gain.

Like I said last week, when the Jets get a lead they become too conservative. They got the Colts to 1st and 19 on the last drive of the 3rd and the Jets sat back in zone and allowed Luck all day to find open targets. I saw the video that came out of Quenton Nelson getting thrown to the ground by Leo(will be included here later), but the Colts had alot of success especially in the 3rd quarter running his side. The Colts were able to pick up chunk play after chunk play with the Jets going with more Hank Anderson over Mcclendon. The Jets were trying to get a pass rush, and Colts were content to gain 8 yards on the ground every play. Toward the end of the quarter the Colts started to go no huddle and it lead to a face mask and defensive pass interference call against the Jets who looked tired. The face mask on Brooks and the DPI on Nickerson, two players stepping in for injured starters.

4th Quarter:

The Colts score on the second play of the quarter, and it’s difficult to see who is at fault but they left Swoopes open in the back of the end zone. It looks to me like Nickerson held his press too long and is late dropping back to his zone and Luck is able to float it over top of him. I’ll let you be the judge below. (35)

The Jets 1st drive in the 4th quarter was a big drive. The Colts had just gone down to score two TDs in a row and had cut the Jets lead to 6. Below was the first play of the drive. (33).gif

The Jets are running a play action boot and it’s Herndons job to block Sheard. Sheard crosses both his and Neil Sterlings face and is able to meet Sam untouched in the back field. Sterling has got to at least slow Sheard down if he is screaming across his face like this, it might mean he doesn’t get out on the pass because his route was disrupted but you can’t just let someone go untouched like this. Lucky for the Jets, the Colts much like the computer in Madden were unable to stop the slant route which continued on this drive.

Like I said this was a big drive for the Jets only up 6 in the 4th, being able to put a drive together that put points on the board and extend the lead to 2 scores was something the Jets haven’t been able to do in years past. Now if only it could have been capped off with a touchdown rather than FG but I guess beggars can’t be choosers.

With the Jets up 9 the Colts took back over and immediately looked to establish the run as they had the previous possession. The Jets are ready and are able to force a 3rd down early in the drive. Good things happen when the Jets are able to pressure the QB and they are able to do so much better when they are bringing pressure. Anderson has been good this year and so has Williams but to consistently count on them to bring pressure on their own in 4 man rush sets is asking too much. Jets are most effective when they are lining interior linemen out wide and stunting them back into the middle of the formation and when they are bringing secondary pressure off the edges. (34)

I’m sure by now you have seen the above clip of Williams taking 6th overall pick and planting him into the ground. A few things to look on this play, first is to look at how many Jets are near the line of scrimmage in the box, I see 7. This gives the Colts the thought that the Jets are going to bring pressure, it’s 3rd and 4 mid field great time to bring pressure. Instead the Jets drop 8 into coverage, but the real play is made by Leo. His quick pressure of the Stunt with Hank, causes Luck to get rid of the ball before he is able to recognize that Lee has dropped into coverage from the line. This quick decision by luck leads to Darron Lees 3rd INT of the year.

Lee ran a 4.4 forty yard dash at the combine if I’m not mistaken, one of the big reasons the Jets got him is for his athleticism, I’d like to see him take that to the house.

Jets get it to 3rd and 2 on the ensuing drive and an errant snap from Spencer Long causes the drive to stall forcing yet another field goal attempt. This has been two weeks in a row where the shotgun snaps from Long have caused timing issues on plays. It’s only a matter of time before one of these turns into a turnover at which point I will have to fight Spencer. The Jets were spoiled for so long with Mangold and having incredible center play. Long is better than Wesley Johnson but he’s no Mangold.

Jets up 12, Colts get the ball at their own 25 with 5:55 left to play. The Jets force a quick 4th and 4, with 5:25 left on the clock. I love Frank Reichs decision to go for it here, granted they didn’t get it and it may have cost them the game, but it shows a confidence in his offense. This is the exact situations where we kill Bowles for punting, it may not have worked but I agree with the choice to go for it. It’s the same thing with Reichs decision to go for it against the Texans in overtime, you play to win the game and you make gambles that can change the tide of the game. It didn’t work out for the Colts in either case, but I like the balls on Frank.

The Jets were able to get another field goal which essentially sealed the game. The Colts got the ball down 15 with 3 minutes left, and were able to put together a scoring drive which forced an onside kick. The Jets ran their patented prevent which almost always results in a garbage time TD. This scenario was a little more warranted than other times when they go prevent in the 1st quarter, but still they get gashed when they are sitting back in zones.

Final Thoughts:

The Jets were the better team Sunday, and they beat an inferior opponent. They forced 4 turnovers, were able to pass the ball with efficiency and held the lead for the majority of the game. Like I said the Colts are the inferior team, the Jets settled for 7 field goals on Sunday. It is nice to break a team record and it’s a fun trivia question for NYC bars but against good teams you have to score touchdowns when you get into the red zone. This isn’t a game that I’m going to get super excited about winning because the Jets were supposed to win. There are some positives and some negatived that the Jets will be able to take away from this game however. Some of the positives are the passing attack, opportunistic defense and stellar field goal kicking. Some negatives are the red zone offense, lack of consistent pressure with 4 man rushes and inefficient running game.

Going forward the Jets finish their home stand against the Vikings next week who are winners of two straight. The Vikings are going to be tougher match up than the Colts, even after they lost one of their CBs. They still have a defense that was one of the best a year ago. Their line of Linval Joseph, Sheldon Richardson, and Danielle Hunter is able to disrupt running plays and generate pressure on the quarterback. Neither of the Vikings last 2 opponents have been able to gain 100 yards on the ground and I’m sure the Jets will look to establish the run early. The offensive line will need to continue to keep Sam upright if the Jets want to have any chance of winning on Sunday. The Rams showed that if you can get Anthony Barr or Eric Kendricks in a mismatch scenario then it can lead to big plays. With all the Jets athletic TE’s on the roster look for Bates to try and create some mismatches using different formations. The Jets offense has shown the ability to do some things well each game but I still don’t think we’ve seen their best performance. They’ve shown the ability to stretch the field with Robbie, run effectively, exploit the middle of the field and hold onto the ball but never all in the same game. The biggest thing for the Jets defense will be to get pressure on Kirk Cousins. He has had a very good year so far but if the Jets are able to pressure him it will help the secondary on the back end. The secondary will be dealing with one of the best WR combos in the NFL in Sefon Digs and Adam Thielen. The Vikings like to move them both around the formation to try and get easy throws to their play makers. One thing to look out for is Adam in the slot, I’m sure the Vikings saw Nickerson struggle the past two weeks and will look to get him in man to man coverage with the NFL’s leading receiver. The Jets will be without Enunwa, and Maye for the next few weeks, so the rest of the team will have to step up. Enunwa has been Darnold go to target all year so look for Kearse to take over that role in his absence. Brooks and Middleton struggles while Maye was out early in the year, so look for teams to test the Jets deep while Maye is sidelined. It’s week 7 so all teams are banged up but the Jets will be without some of their top players, so it will be interesting how the coaching staff adjusts.

Alright that’s enough for this break down, we’ll have some picks for you later this week.

-Big Dog




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