This year, Josh Carney and I will break down the opposing team’s offense in our weekly scouting report. Like last year, I will be looking at the opposing team in a more broad, scheme-approach. Josh will have a closer eye on the individual players.
The New York Jets’ offense.
Alex’s Scheme Report
Jets’ Run Game
The Jets’ offense is a weird one. They’re good, far from great. The running game has 15 runs of 10+ yards, tied for third most in the league. But they have yet to rip off a run of 20+ yards, one of four teams to fail to do so. You’ll see a similar trend with their passing game, too.
Coaching staff wise, there’s only two notables. Chan Gailey is the OC while Marcel Shipp, a former NFL running back for Arizona, serves in the same spot as the position coach.
Matt Forte is struggling to find running room, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry. Bilal Powell’s longest run is just 16 yards but has a robust 7.6 yards per carry. That gives their offense a 4.2 per carry mark overall, tied for 11th in the league. Still, I don’t find their running game very potent.
Forte has dominated the touched but the team has admitted he can’t handle the workhorse load he’s shouldered so expect Powell to be involved much more often. He actually out-snapped Forte last week, 52 to 48%. On the year, it’s about a 66/33 split.
It’s a good mixture of man and zone runs. A coupe gap runs, all with left guard James Carpenter pulling. Standard inside zone stuff and in their man schemes, they rely on getting strong double teams up front. Here’s a good example.
And that offensive line, while far from the best in the league, is pretty huge. Assuming right guard Brian Winters is out, and that’s a pretty good bet, here is how they’ll line up.
LT: Ryan Clady – 6’6 315
LG: James Carpenter – 6’5 321
C: Nick Mangold – 6’4 307
RG: Brent Qvale – 6’7 315
RT: Ben Ijalana – 6’4 322
And you can bet most of these guys are 10-25 pounds heavier than what they’re listed.
The Jets were, and probably the only team to do so, rotating their right tackle by series with Qvale and Ijalana switching out. But with Winters’ injury, Qvale kicked inside and there is no longer a rotation.
They do not have a true fullback. They didn’t start the year with one, only having Julian Howsare in name, but he was cut two weeks in. They will sometimes align tight end Kellen Davis in the backfield, usually sidecar to the quarterback in a pistol set. You’ll get a iso run to that side or occasionally, playaction with the FB in the flats.
They also use Quincy Enunwa a ton as a blocker. An H-Back of sorts when he has to be, he’s great in the open field, but predictably struggles when asked to cutoff the backside.
A guy like Davis doesn’t have much more success. It’s a big issue for that run game. And the Steelers do a great job crashing on the backside and a chance for them to bottle up zone runs.
Ryan Fitzpatrick will extend the play and is a little Alex Smith like in mobility, probably a tick below. But he did try this QB sneak on 3rd and 8 against the Kansas City Chiefs, for some reason, but it was negated by a delay of game.
Jets’ Passing Game
Some quick stats. Again, good, not great in the passing game. They are tied ninth with 14 completions of 20+ yards but only one of those have gone for 40+, tied for last with eight other teams.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, obviously, is struggling and if you hadn’t heard, toss nine interceptions the last two weeks. That gives him ten for the season, leading the league. Their 55.8% completion rate is 31st and their YPA is just 6.6, tied for 25th in the league. Which is all to say, their passing attack, despite having weapons, is struggling.
They are a vertical attack team, which might explain the low completion percentage bu then not the YPA. What makes them unique is their tight end situation. Their “starter” Davis only plays 56% of the time. No Jets’ tight end has caught a pass this year, the only team to do so (and 77 tight ends in the league have at least one reception).
The Jets use 10 personnel, 4 WRs without a tight end, more than any other team in the league. Injuries are making that more difficult to do. Eric Decker and Jalin Marshall are likely to miss. If both do, their WRs will be: Brandon Marshall, Enunwa, rookie Robby Anderson, and rookie Charone Peake.
It’s clear the Jets covet size and that will be an issue for Pittsburgh. Enunwa is 6’2, Marshall 6’4/4, Anderson 6’2/7, and Peake 6’2/3.
Justin Gilbert, if he’s out, would be an underrated loss. You can bet the Steelers were planning on using some of that 4 CB/1 S defense this week. May not be an option if he’s out.
The Jets will spread you out and run a ton of empty. Force you to cover the entire field and create one-on-one matchups.
Powell is a big piece of their passing game. He has 15 receptions, third on the team and one fewer than Marshall. Nine of those catches have come on third down, tied for third of anyone, runner or receiver. Only Duke Johnson’s 10 beats him at running back.
Their vertical routes help open the back underneath, like Powell here.
Didn’t get a great feel for their route combination. Little of everything. But with the size they have, they’ll isolate Brandon Marshall and chuck fades at him all day. Like this one against Seattle on Sunday.
Difficult matchup for any cornerback.
They’ll almost always have something vertical in their route tree, love to air it out, and even put their trips side into the boundary at times, which is a little uncommon.
Jets’ Special Teams
With Jalin Marshall’s injury, and he was doing well as a kick returner, it looks like Jeremy Ross is taking over in that spot. He returned one kick for 27 yards last week. He’s also their punt returner.
The Jets line up, generally in a 4-2-2-2-1 kick return look but they play on different levels and like to loop around a lot to give some different formations.
Kellen Davis is the only skill player on the field goal team. He’s lined up at left wing.
Punter Lachlan Edwards is the team’s punter and holder. He’s a rookie from Sam Houston, an Aussie, who has never thrown a pass or attempted a rush.
Josh’s Indivdual Report
The New York Jets ride into Heinz Field Sunday with the league’s 14th-ranked offense, averaging 360.8 yards per game. With Ryan Fitzpatrick under center and weapons such as Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Quincy Enunwa and Matt Forte at his disposal, the start to the 2016 season for the New York offense has been pretty disappointing to say the least.
Under Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey, the Jets were a high-flying attack last season, but this year New York has been quite average, largely due to the poor play from Fitzpatrick through four games.
Following a long contract dispute during the off-season that stretched into Training Camp, Fitzpatrick was expected to pick up right where he left off in 2015, but through four games the Harvard product has thrown for just 1,012 yards, four touchdowns and a league-high 10 interceptions, including nine in his last two games against Kansas City and Seattle.
Along with his struggles to find his receivers more than opposing defenders, Fitzpatrick is averaging just 6.57 yards per attempt through four games, which is slightly down from his 6.95 yards per attempt last season. That being said though, Fitzpatrick still likes to push the ball down the field to Marshall and Decker, despite the latter being out with a labrum injury.
Fitzpatrick’s favorite target has been Marshall this season, who has had some success despite his quarterback’s struggles. In four games, Marshall has hauled in 16 passes for 249 yards and a score on 39 targets. Of those 16 catches, Marshall is averaging just over 15 yards per catch, which puts him in the top 10 of qualified receivers in the NFL.
Marshall is the main threat in this offense on vertical shots, but where Fitzpatrick and Marshall make their magic is on the back-shoulder throws. This seems to be the go-to play in this offense when the Jets need a big play in a big spot. However, they’ve used it so much and become so predictable that teams now sit on it, as evidenced by Richard Sherman’s big interception last week on a back shoulder throw.
I do expect Gailey and the Jets to add a new wrinkle this week for Fitzpatrick and Marshall in a game that’s as must-win as it gets this early in the season.
Outside of Marshall and Fitzpatrick, Enunwa has emerged as the possession receiver in the middle of the field for the Jets. The second-year product out of Nebraska has really developed some solid rapport with Fitzpatrick and seems to be the safety outlet in this New York offense. Through four games this season Enunwa leads the Jets in receptions (23) and averages just over 10 yards per catch. He’s a tough receiver that isn’t afraid to go over the middle and he’s becoming known as one of the best blocking wide receivers in football so far this season.
With Decker out, the Jets are relying heavily on Marshall and Enunwa. What they can’t rely on is any production from the tight end position. Since the start of the 2015 season, the Jets have gotten just eight receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown out of the tight end position. That’s less than ideal in a pass-happy offense like New York’s.
Don’t expect that to change this week as the Jets have very little receiving threats at tight end with recent waiver acquisition Austin Seferian-Jenkins a ways away from seeing the field.
But one area that the Jets could exploit the Steelers through the air is with their running backs. Fitzpatrick has connected with Forte and backup Bilal Powell a combined 26 times so far this season for 186 yards largely on dump-offs out of the backfield.
What I do expect to happen this week is that the Jets use Forte in a Le’Veon Bell-type role and get him lined up in the slot to allow him to work open down the field, which has been a big part of his game throughout his career. It’s been largely a surprise that he’s caught just 11 passes so far this season.
Outside of catching the ball out of the backfield, Forte and Powell have been solid on the ground, but largely unspectacular in a Jets rushing attack that has not recorded a run of over 20 yards this season, with a long of just 16 yards on the season.
It’s more of a 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust attack that won’t do anything to trick you. They’ll run straight ahead at you and hope to break some tackles. But make no mistake: this is a pass-first offense.
Despite averaging 4.2 yards per carry, the Jets won’t blow you away with their run game because the offensive line has really struggled so far in 2016 after losing D’Brickashaw Ferguson to retirement, replacing him with the injury-prone Ryan Clady.
All-Pro center Nick Mangold is still the anchor on this unit, but he appears to be losing a step at age 32 while trying to make up for the likes of left guard James Carpenter and right guard Brian Winters, each of whom was thought to be a solid run blocker in their own right, but hasn’t lived up to the billing so far.
At right tackle, Ben Ijalana has had to step in for the injured Breno Giacomini and has really struggled so far this season. Last week against Seattle, Michael Bennett and Frank Clark had tons of success off the edge against Ijalana, so I do expect the Jets to provide him some support with a tight end like Kellen Davis this week against Pittsburgh.
The struggles of the Jets offense are very notable, but Fitzpatrick has always been a hot-or-cold quarterback. There’s no way anyone can write him off at this point in the season because he could easily turn it around this week and put up a 4-touchdown performance on the road.
On special teams, Nick Folk has been Mr. Reliable for the Jets since joining the organization in 2013. So far through four games in 2016, Folk is 8-for-9 on field goals with his only miss coming from 20-29 yards in during Week 1 against the Bengals. On extra points Folk is 7-for-8, including a blocked extra point by the Bengals.
Despite being consistent, Folk played a direct hand in the Jets’ loss to open the season.
Folk also handles the kick-off duties and has produced seven touchbacks on 20 kick-offs. He mostly forces teams to return kicks from just outside the goal line, setting his defense up with great field position as teams are averaging just 18.8 yards per return against him.
In the kick return game, Jeremy Ross – signed just two weeks ago — will most likely handle the return duties with rookie Jalin Marshall limited in practice on Thursday. Ross has just one return on the season for 27 yards, while Marshall is the real home run threat already having recorded a 65-yard return this season.
On punt returns, if Marshall can go he’ll get the call there as well, but as of right now it looks like it will be Ross in that role. He has yet to return a punt this season as Marshall has the only three punt return attempts for New York through four games.