While the biggest controversy surrounding the NFL deals with kneeling for the national anthem, the Jets have flown under the radar as a surprise team with two wins, which is almost halfway to their season over/under lines. However, the Jets were lucky to win this game against the Jaguars, as Josh McCown played a mediocre game, and got plenty of help from the running game and Blake Bortles.
This is a 3rd and 7 play in the first quarter, and Jeremy Kerley does a good job of clearing the first line marker as he runs his out route, and McCown throws a great pass. This is a good read because the defender on Kerley is positioned about seven yards off the line of scrimmage, and taking inside leverage, so there is a free release to the outside. This is a good route and good throw for the Jets.
This play isn’t anything special in terms of McCown, it’s a simple check down screen pass to Elijah McGuire, who splits defenders to run down the field. His college tape indicated very good agility in short spaces and he definitely shows it on this play. The other thing to notice on this play is the outside routes to the left of the formation. The Jets are running two deep slant routes against a single high safety, and that is very important as the season goes on. This won’t be in effect as much with McCown as QB, but if Petty or Hackenberg take over as starter, this will be important. The dual slant in this scenario forces the deep safety to pick which corner back he wants to assist. For a risk taking, strong armed QB, the read would be to throw to the receiver that isn’t being double teamed. It doesn’t matter right now, but keep an eye out for this play if Petty ever starts a game.
If you read last week’s column, you would be familiar with this play. It’s a tiered play, with a play action roll out to the right side of the formation. The Jaguars actually diffuse the roll out aspect of this play by penetrating the pocket, but McCown does a good job of hitting his first option in Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The play is designed to give multiple options as McCown rolls but he does well to improvise, given the defender in the pocket.
Once again, a third down pass to Kerley. The Jets seem to fake a pick route, and go for a slant route to Kerley, and he gets to the marker. It’s a fairly simple play. This play is here for something that happens away from the pass. Notice Jermaine Kearse to the right side of the formation, put his defender on skates with his route running. This is a clinic on gaining leverage with route running skills. The defender is lined up in man coverage, and instead of giving away his route, he runs towards the defender and gives him a step the inside, which causes the hips of the defender to move. This slight move allows for a free release to the outside. The Jets did a great job of acquiring Kearse, because he may not always show up on the stat sheets, but he can definitely teach the young receivers on setting up defenders.
3rd and short, and here comes a pick play, which seems to be a staple in the offense, and rightfully so. It’s a simple play, the outside receiver disrupts the defender enough to spring Bilal Powell free towards the sidelines and pick up enough yards for the first down. The Jets also run a mirror pick play to the other side of the formation as well, which essentially has two defenders slowing each other down. These plays are fairly common in football now because they are virtually impossible to stop without switching, much similar to screens in basketball.
This is an excellent grab by Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He makes a beautiful catch from a decent throw by McCown. The ball is a bit high, but Jenkins high points the ball and makes a wonderful catch. This is however, the wrong decision, especially considering the Jets are driving down the field in a 2 minute drill. The Jets have Kearse on the outside with at least a step on his defender, with the safety too far away to impact the play. Given that the clock was under a minute, the right choice would have been to take the shot with Kearse. However, McCown still makes a good play, and Jenkins makes a great catch. This is another example of Kearse using good route running skills to set up a free release, as he is facing press man coverage at the line of scrimmage. He makes a subtle move to the outside, which turns the hips of the defender, and allows for a free release up the field. It’s quite impressive to see him set up routes consistently.
Another pick play combination from the offense, this time setting up Robby Anderson. The play is simple, as we’ve seen many times already. The read on this play is a bit more complicated, if the defender stays close to Anderson, and cuts behind the Jets receiver setting the pick, then the QB leads Anderson to the inside to run forward. In this case, the defender runs around the receiver setting the pick on the front side, so the ball is thrown towards the outside so Anderson can turn around and get some yards.
This is most likely the best pass of the game from McCown as he makes a perfect throw to Robby Anderson down the field. There isn’t much to talk about this play, it’s just a great throw. The late movement helps set up the defender, but Anderson does a great job of attacking the defender straight on at first, and then watch how he has a slight step to the inside before releasing outside. There are shades of Kearse’s route running abilities rubbing off there. Other point of note is the Kerley route, which is to occupy the attention of the single high safety long enough to allow Anderson to run deep.
This play is from a different angle to show McGuire break the ankles of Dante Fowler Jr. on this play. It’s a simple screen pass to McGuire who absolutely burns Fowler on this play. There was a chance that McGuire would have broken the second tackle as well, but seemed to slip a bit with his foot. Just a great run by the rookie after the catch.
This is a good read, but mediocre throw for the first down to Kearse. The ball is thrown behind the receiver, which prevents any chance of running after the catch. McCown has a clean pocket and should have been able to lead the receiver, but makes an inaccurate throw. However, the receiver still catches the ball and does get the first down.
This play may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a very good play. The Jets are backed up near their end zone and need to get a manageable third down. As the announcers constantly mentioned, a penalty in the end zone would result in a safety and a loss. This is a simple route by Kearse, and the Jets have Anderson running behind him if Kearse is covered on this play. If the defender on Kearse is too close, then the passing lane to Anderson would be wide open. It didn’t matter much because they didn’t convert the short third down, but this is an important play in getting out of tight situations and bodes well for the offense in the future.
There isn’t anything spectacular about this play, McCown goes through his progressions and hits Anderson for a nice gain.
This play here is to praise Dante Fowler Jr. On the McGuire screen, he whiffed on the tackle, but he shows great hustle on this play. This is just a simple screen to Bilal Powell, but the Jets are set up extremely well down the field. If Fowler doesn’t chase down Powell, there is a decent chance that Powell breaks this pass down the field. The Jets have blockers set up down the field for a major gain on this play if Fowler doesn’t chase him down.
I’ve inserted the running play here just to highlight Elijah McGuire. The Jaguars are lined up somewhat in a 4 wide stance, with the middle of the line being open against the Jets. Many teams employ this type of defense against the Jets, and the only real way to counter it is a running QB or a good running game. McGuire takes this hand off and hits the A gap, then runs around the safety for a touchdown. He shows extremely good vision, agility, and surprisingly sustains his speed down the field. He was chased down from behind quite a few times in college, which seemed to indicate a lack of high end top speed, but he maintains the distance between the defenders here for this long TD. It’s a very impressive run.
The Jets won this game, but it wasn’t because Josh McCown was great. He did have his good plays, but he was helped immensely by the running game, and played a rather safe game again. His stats won’t look awful because he rarely takes risks, and the offensive system helps with easy reads, but the QB play needs to improve for the Jets to win more games.
Please check in later for our McFrown article.
A. How much longer will McCown play in your opinion as the starter (without injury)?