Monday Notes: Schedule Breakdown, Predictions

A Quick Recap of Last Week in JetNation:

 

Jets are Handed a Difficult 2016 Schedule

 

The 2016 NFL schedule was released on Thursday, and the Jets’ schedule is a daunting one. In 2015 the Jets were given a relatively average SoS (strength of schedule) rating at .488, ranked 18th most difficult schedule in the league. This season they weren’t as lucky, getting a .531 rating, good enough to tie for the seventh most difficult schedule in the league. The SoS rating is based on all 16 opponent’s combined overall records from the previous season. The Jets will play six of their first nine games on the road. Five of their first six opponents are playoff teams from last season, the exception being the Buffalo Bills. The season will end with back-to-back short weeks and three games in the span of 13 days. The Jets will have five prime-time games for only the third time in franchise history: two Monday night games, two Thursday night games (one on Saturday), and a Sunday night game. Here’s some thoughts and predictions on each game:

 

  • Week 1: 9/11, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Cincinnati Bengals – The Jets will open the season at home against the Bengals on the fifteenth anniversary of September 11th. It will be an emotional atmosphere, and a difficult game for Todd Bowles and the Jets to start the season with. The Bengals will be without linebacker Vontaze Burfict, giving the Jets a slight advantage. It will be difficult for the Jets to contain Andy Dalton and a diverse offense, but the Jets get it done at home. Score: 27-21, Record: 1-0

 

  • Week 2: 9/15, Thursday, 8:25 p.m., at Buffalo Bills – The Jets will take a trip back to where their season ended in dismal fashion last year. Rex Ryan will be eager to keep his undefeated streak alive against his former team, and will have his players fired up for the early prime-time match up. If Ryan Fitzpatrick is the quarterback for the Jets this coming season, the outlook is bleak for this game. Fitzpatrick has a 1-8 record against Rex Ryan coached teams. The trip back to where their season ended will be too much for the Jets, and Rex will keep his streak against the Jets alive. Score: 28-10, Record: 1-1

 

  • Week 3: 9/25, Sunday, 4:25 p.m., at Kansas City Chiefs – The Jets will head into one of the most difficult stadiums to visit in the NFL, Arrowhead Stadium. They will get a few extra days to prepare for the contest after a Thursday night game. Although Arrowhead and Andy Reid will give the Jets some troubles, they will pull off the upset. Score: 21-14, Record: 2-1

 

  • Week 4: 10/2, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Seattle Seahawks – Pete Carroll and the Seahawks will visit MetLife Stadium for the first time since their Super Bowl XLVIII victory. The last time the Jets played the Seahawks they were crushed 28-7, although that was at Century Link Field in Seattle. This will be the only home game in a five game span, but the Seahawks and Russell Wilson will overpower the Jets. Score: 35-13, Record: 2-2

 

  • Week 5: 10/9, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., at Pittsburgh Steelers – The Jets are historically bad against the Steelers, only winning five of the 24 match ups since 1970. The offense will need to be firing on all cylinders to keep up with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown at home. The trend will continue and the Jets won’t be able to stop the Steelers. Score: 21-20, Record: 2-3

 

  • Week 6: 10/17, Monday, 8:30 p.m., at Arizona Cardinals – This will be one of the most interesting games of the season as Todd Bowles faces off against his mentor in Bruce Arians. Bowles and Arians have a long history together. Bowles played for Arians at Temple, and most recently Bowles served as the defensive coordinator for Arians in Arizona. It will be a great clash between two great coaches out in the desert. The pupil will defeat the mentor this time, with the defense making enough plays to take the day for the Jets. Score: 16-14, Record: 3-3

 

  • Week 7: 10/23, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Baltimore Ravens – In recent history the Jets have had a difficult time against the Ravens as well, with the last win coming in 1997. Joe Flacco and the Ravens had some serious struggles last season with injuries, and will definitely have a better season than their 5-11 record from a year ago. With a healthier roster the Ravens will give the Jets a run for their money at home, but the Jets will clinch it late in the game. Score: 28-24, Record: 4-3

 

  • Week 8: 10/30, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., at Cleveland Browns – The Browns are in full rebuild mode with new head coach Hue Jackson. The Browns have been pushovers in the league for a long time now, and that won’t change any time soon. The Jets will beat up on the Browns’ mediocre roster. Score: 38-6, Record: 5-3

 

  • Week 9: 11/6, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., at Miami Dolphins – The Jets have won four out of the last six games against the Dolphins, including two last season. This should be a go ahead win for the Jets, but they will fall to their rivals in Miami. Score: 17-14, Record: 5-4

 

  • Week 10: 11/13, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Los Angeles Rams – The newly relocated Rams will have a rookie quarterback at the helm after trading up for the first pick in the upcoming draft. In all likelihood the Rams will have either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz at the helm. The rookie quarterback will have a tough game against Todd Bowles’ blitz-happy defense. The Jets take it in a low-scoring affair. Score: 13-3, Record: 6-4

 

  • Week 11: The Jets get a break with a bye week.

 

  • Week 12: 11/27, Sunday, 8:30 p.m., vs. New England Patriots – Recent match ups between the Jets and Patriots have been very close games. The Jets haven’t won against the Patriots twice in a row since 2008-2009. Todd Bowles will end that streak with a big victory in a prime-time match up with the Jets’ biggest rival. Score: 30-23, Record: 7-4

 

  •  Week 13: 12/5, Monday, 8:30 p.m., vs. Indianapolis Colts – Last season the Jets took Andrew Luck and the Colts behind the woodshed in a 20-7 victory. Andrew Luck hasn’t beaten the Jets since entering the NFL, including the most recent 20-7 loss, and another 35-9 loss in 2012. This time Luck and the Colts will get the better of the Jets. Score: 35-28, Record: 7-5

 

  • Week 14: 12/11, Sunday, 4:25 p.m., at San Francisco 49ers – After playing on Monday night, the Jets will take a trip out west to San Francisco on Sunday. It will be difficult to fly west after having a short week, but the Jets will be able to handle Chip Kelly’s new team. Colin Kaepernick will get benched for Blaine Gabbert after throwing three interceptions to seal the win for the Jets. Score: 24-17, Record: 8-5

 

  • Week 15: 12/17, Saturday, 8:25 p.m., vs. Miami Dolphins – The Jets will be playing Saturday night after two short weeks in a row. The Dolphins have a new head coach in Adam Gase after firing Joe Philbin. Although Miami will have a new head coach, the tough schedule will catch up to the Jets as they let another close game slip away. Score: 20-17, Record: 8-6

 

  • Week 16: 12/24, Saturday, 1:00 p.m., at New England Patriots – The Jets will play the Patriots on Christmas eve. The last time the Jets squared off against the Patriots during a holiday was on Thanksgiving in 2012. That game was one of the Jets’ worst in recent memory, a 49-19 trouncing. As much as the Jets would like to make it a three game win streak, Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense will get the better of the Jets in New England. Score: 38-24, Record: 8-7

 

  • Week 17: 1/1, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Buffalo Bills – For the second year in a row, the Jets will end the season against their former head coach Rex Ryan. Rex would love nothing more than ending the Jets’ season with a defeat twice in a row. This time the Jets will prevail at home against their former head coach and end the season on a high note. Score: 28-21, Final Record: 9-7

 

With a significantly tougher schedule it’s possible the Jets could take a step back. Play makers such as Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, and Eric Decker will keep the Jets in contention, but it might not be enough. It would be tough to say whether or not a 9-7 record will be good enough to earn a playoff berth, but in the competitive AFC conference it might be a stretch. Last season the Jets were kept out of the playoffs with a 10-6 record. At this point it’s difficult to make accurate predictions seeing as the Jets starting quarterback spot is still up in the air. The Jets’ playoff chances could vary greatly depending on who they have starting under center.

 

Other Notes

 

Other than the schedule release it was quiet week for the Jets. The Jets announced the signing of backup tackle Ben Ijalana who will likely retake his spot at left tackle behind newly acquired Ryan Clady. Paxton Lynch visited with the Jets during the week. Lynch is the only quarterback out of the top three in the draft that has a realistic chance of being on the board at 20 when the Jets are on the clock. There have been rumors that the Jets inquired about moving up to the #1 spot in the draft before the Rams made the move. This has fueled speculation that not only are the Jets trying to move up to draft a quarterback, but also that Muhammad Wilkerson was a part of the deal. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Jets move Muhammad Wilkerson before the draft, and if so, for what price. News broke Sunday that the Houston Texans are releasing Brian Hoyer. Hoyer was targeted by the Jets last off-season before they traded for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Hoyer could be a fallback option for the Jets, or at the very least a means to try to gain more leverage in negotiations with Fitzpatrick. According to the NFLPA the Jets have $3.8 million in cap space, enough to sign all six of their current draft picks.

 

Jets Rumored to be Interested in Kaepernick

From the never a dull moment department, we bring you the latest Jets QB rumors. There are reports today saying that the Jets are in talks to trade for 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. There are other reports saying that it is a smoke screen designed to bring down the contract demands of Ryan Fitzpatrick. That seems to make a lot of sense, the QB carousel fills up fast, as there aren’t many options for Fitzpatrick to be a starter next year. The Jets seem to be counting on that because it will drive his price down.

Anyway, we will let the tweets tell the full story.

https://twitter.com/jasonrmcintyre/status/707982512509816833

We will keep you posted! Let us know your thoughts on Colin Kaepernick to the Jets.

Monday Notes: Broncos Win Super Bowl, Jets Make Future/Reserve Signings

A Quick Recap of Last Week in JetNation:

 

Broncos’ Defense Leads Them to a Championship

 

The Denver Broncos dominated the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 with a 24-10 victory, earning Peyton Manning his second Lombardi Trophy. It was one of the most defense oriented Super Bowls in recent memory, one in which neither quarterback scored a touchdown. It wasn’t exactly a beautiful game, but it did keep the notion that ‘defense wins championships’ alive. There were seven fumbles, two interceptions, and 12 sacks between the two teams. With the Super Bowl now in the rear view mirror, the off-season has officially begun for 31 teams, the exception being the Broncos who will take time to celebrate their Super Bowl victory. The biggest question everyone wanted to know prior to the game was whether or not quarterback Peyton Manning would retire. Manning didn’t give a direct answer, saying he wanted time to reflect. His father though, Archie Manning, was more blunt stating “I think Peyton is done in Denver. He may be done everywhere. So that’s my — you know what? I don’t stick my nose in it, so I don’t know that. I don’t know that. But that’s my guess.” Interestingly, in a recent interview Joe Namath endorsed the idea that the Jets should take a look at Peyton if he doesn’t decide to retire. “If he’s physically fit and the Broncos don’t want him, I’d give him a good look right out there in New York Jet territory.” The scenario is highly unlikely, but is interesting nonetheless.

 

Jets Make Multiple Future/Reserve Signings

 

The Jets have already made a number of under-the-radar moves so far this off-season. In the past week the Jets signed three players to future/reserve contracts including: Freddie Bishop, Kyle Brindza, and Dri Archer. The most tantalizing signing of the three is running back/kick returner Dri Archer. The Jets desperately need a game changer on special teams and Archer has the skill set to be just that. Archer posted the second fastest 40-yard dash time ever recorded at the combine in 2014 at 4.26 seconds, only .02 seconds behind Chris Johnson’s record. Archer was a third round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but was released for never living up to his expectations. Kyle Brindza was a kicker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had a lowly 6-12 field goal conversion record last season. Freddie Bishop was an undrafted free agent who was signed by the Detroit Lions coming out of the draft in 2013. The Lions cut ties with Bishop and he was picked up by the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Bishop recorded 11 sacks last season with Calgary.

 

Other Notes

 

The Jets’ special teams coach position was filled by former Indianapolis Colts assistant special teams coach Brant Boyer. It’s an interesting move to say the least. The Colts weren’t exactly effective on special teams last season giving up three punt returns for a touchdown, a fake field goal conversion, and a debacle of a fake punt play. The fake punt was a play in which the Colts lined up nine players to the right of the field, leaving safety Colt Anderson and the long snapper alone in the middle of the field. Needless to say, the play was unsuccessful and one of the strangest plays ever called. Strangeness aside, Boyer received high praise from the Colts staff and was a good special teams player during his ten year career in the NFL. Boyer met Todd Bowles as a player for the Cleveland Browns while Bowles was the secondary coach. Obviously Boyer made a good impression on Bowles. Even a decent season in special teams would be a significant improvement over recent years. This will be the Jets’ fifth special teams coach in five years. The Jets also hired their new assistant special teams coach, Jeff Hammerschmidt. Hammerschmidt spent the last four seasons as the special teams coach for Colorado State.

There was a rumor circulating earlier in the week that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick wanted out of San Francisco, and preferred to land with the Jets. The report came out Tuesday evening from an article written by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. It wasn’t long until conflicting reports came out with CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora stating that “Kaepernick has wanted out of San Francisco for quite some time” but that the Jets “have not been and are not interested.” Both Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan have stated that they want to bring Ryan Fitzpatrick back with a new contract, which instantly made the initial report seem questionable. The move also wouldn’t be too cap friendly for the Jets seeing as Kaepernick’s cap hit is north of $15 million next season. As of right now the Jets are projected to have around $14 million in cap space, less than Kaepernick’s due salary. There are many reasons why bringing Kaepernick to New York wouldn’t make much sense, although the Jets could use a young quarterback of the future. Fitzpatrick is 33 years old, so ideally the Jets could use a talented quarterback to take over within the next year or two but not for the price tag Colin Kaepernick would demand. The Jets are likely hoping that Bryce Petty or a future draft pick can develop into a franchise quarterback for them at some point. For now it seems that Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the guy for the foreseeable future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colin Kaepernick Reportedly Interested in Joining Jets

By Glenn Naughton

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News is reporting that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kapernick has some interest in being a New York Jet after a disappointing 2015 in the Bay area.

A 5 year veteran, Kaepernick had his worst season as a pro under former Head Coach Jim Tomsula last season and found himself out of the job half way through the season.

According to Mehta, the Jets are “intrigued” by Kaepernick’s interest, but a major stumbling block would be the enormous contract that currently ties Kaepernick to the 49ers.

Although Kaepernick wants to play in New York, he still has five years remaining on a blockbuster $114 million extension signed in 2014 that includes escape hatches for his current employer. The Jets, coming off a 10-win season, would have to trade for Kaepernick or wait until he’s cut.

The 49ers must make a decision to keep, trade or cut Kaepernick before April 1 when his 2016 base salary of $11.9 million becomes guaranteed. San Francisco would save $8.5 million by cutting Kaepernick, who is scheduled to have a $15.9 million cap charge this season.

The cap hit of $15.9 million may be cost prohibitive for the Jets who are projected to have roughly $30 million in cap room and plenty of their own free agents to sign, including star defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson.   However, if they view Kaepernick as a legitimate long-term solution at the position, more moves could be made to free up the required funds.

Stay tuned Jets fans…things could get interesting. Here is the thread from our forums about Colin Kaepernick to the Jets.

 

GM John Idzik Building A Great NY Jets Team

John Idzik FieldEntering the 2013 offseason the New York Jets were a rudderless ship with no direction or leadership after an embarrassing 6-10 record during the 2012 season. The team had been under intense scrutiny all year and anonymous players vented their frustration through media outlets.

After a long search owner Woody Johnson named former Seattle Seahawks executive John Idzik as the Jets new general manager.  From the first day Idzik spoke publicly one could tell he was a no nonsense type of guy who would begin the process of transforming the Jets from a laughable “circus” to a respected organization.

The first order of business was to take control of the flow of information.  When he took over, much to the chagrin of certain media members who enjoyed the “inmates running the asylum” Idzik clamped down on the leaks. Seems no matter how hard some try to knock down, pressure and simply print story after story which are false, attempting to embarrass Idzik and the Jets, it just won’t change his approach.

John Idzik’s building strategy will produce a great team, yes great, not just average or mediocre and his decisions are based upon what is best, even if unpopular with the media or fans.  Nothing from the outside will influence the way in which the Jets are constructed.

2013:

Lots of times you’ll hear John Idzik made “no-brainer decisions” just moving out older players and cleaning up the salary cap during a rebuilding year. This could not be further from the truth because John Idzik made tough decisions by not jeopardizing the future while building a competitive team.  The Jets were supposed to win three games last year, but somehow hung around the playoff race for a vast portion of the season and finished strong.

Idzik avoided the temptation to try and obtain high priced free agents by restructuring contracts artificially creating cap space in 2013 but limiting resources in the future.  Instead Idzik chose to use a disciplined building philosophy, creating a nucleus of young affordable players which not only led to better results in 2013, but set the team up moving forward as well.  He also knew after the Revis trade the Jets would have eight picks in the 2014 draft, and wanted to ensure the top number of picks he could receive through the NFL’s compensatory system.

To achieve this he signed only two players (Goodson and Barnes) which would cost him extra picks. He knew the Jets had lost six players which would allow the team to be awarded the maximum of four compensatory picks, giving the Jets 12 draft selections this May.  Idzik wisely signed free agent defensive lineman Leger Douzable after the time he could cost the Jets a compensatory pick.

The bottom line is the Jets now have a nice core of young unselfish players with a mix of veterans who are on the roster heading into 2014.  By being smart Idzik has the financial and draft resources to build a winner this year and beyond.

2014:

The Jets no longer have to be concerned with the amount of salary cap resources, but simply focus on personnel moves, which does include valuing the financial component of players.  He has left himself options at any position to put the best “team” on the field.

There are those who are upset that Idzik is being too cautious and cheap not acquiring splashy free agents to fill the many holes, which are completely exaggerated, the Jets currently have.  The interesting thing is Idzik has spent money (about $25 million) that he could have kept, he knows there are many more expenses still to come and is probably not done in free agency, so keeping resources is still important.

Basically, some feel if the Jets are a “win now team” then they must spend money because that is what “win now teams do” correct?  Well, if spending money leads to championships just hand the Lombardi trophy to the Oakland Raiders, how about that Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Miami Dolphins Super Bowl last year, which never happened, and the 2011 “dream team” Philadelphia Eagles finally gave that city the championship they’ve been looking for?  The Eagles, Buccaneers and Dolphins spent big money during the past few seasons all ending with poor results.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over-and-over but expecting a different outcome.  Buying “names” has been proven time-and-time again to be a failed strategy for building an NFL winner, which often takes a team years to recover from, yet some feel this will magically change.

Receiver Calvin Johnson has been one of the best players at his position since being drafted in 2007 by the Detroit Lions yet has a 36-76 regular season record with one playoff appearance, a loss.  “The team around him is terrible that is why he has this record,” is often the explanation given.

Thanks for making my point as it takes a team not a group of individuals to win.  Imagine a basketball team with only Michael Jordans or hockey team filled with all players being Wayne Gretzky.  Do you think these teams would succeed?  Who would set the pick, get the tough rebound or who would screen the goalie, give the big check or be the enforcer?

The Seattle Seahawks won because the entire team contributed, including the Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith, a seventh round draft pick.  Sure, successful teams use free agency and trades, but their core is drafted and developed by them not ten guys brought in from unfamiliar systems and told to produce, which eventually leads to a shortage of resources.

John Idzik allowed cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to go to the NY Giants. He didn’t feel it would be right giving Rodgers-Cromartie a contract with two years guaranteed due to his history of playing when it was best for him.  The Giants are now stuck with the corner for two seasons while the Jets are likely stuck with free agent acquisition receiver Eric Decker for two years. Even if Rodgers-Cromartie plays fantastic and Decker is awful Idzik made the right decision.  He cannot tell the future and has to work with the information he currently has during negotiations.  That information told him not to beat the contract Rodgers-Cromartie received.

“Only teams with a great quarterback win the Super Bowl and the Jets don’t have one.”  Geno Smith certainly has to improve over his rookie year, but look at the recent Super Bowl winning quarterbacks regular seasons: Russell Wilson (3,357 yards passing, 26 TDs and 9 INTs) Joe Flacco, 2012, (3,817 yards passing, 22 TDs, 10 INTs) and the NFC Championship quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 2013 statistics (3,197 yards passing, 21 TDs, 8 INTs).  These quarterbacks didn’t have 5,000 yards passing or 50 TDs (Peyton Manning) but were efficient and led their teams to points. With a year of experience, a full offseason and better talent Geno Smith could take a step forward having a 2014 season statistically closer to what these other successful quarterbacks have achieved.

John Idzik looks past the names instead focusing on value and production as he “aspires for greatness” within the Jets. The NFL playing field is level with all teams having the same resources, yet some always seem to fail while others produce.

Maybe it’s because the winning organizations make the proper football moves allowing them to have the consistency and depth to be successful year-after-year.  Think all Jets fans are tired of hoping for a championship, but have no fear John Idzik is making the correct moves to build a team for the 2014 season and beyond that could give us what we’ve been waiting too long for, finally seeing our New York Jets win that elusive Super Bowl.

Will The “New” 4-2-5 Defense Bring Ground And Pound Back?

Colin KaepernickAs NFL offenses turn to a spread concept and use of the zone read option defenses have been trying to figure out a way to combat it. A lot of teams have adopted the 4-2-5 (four down lineman, two linebackers, and either three safeties: one of which is a small version of a linebacker, and two corners or a traditional nickel look with three cornerbacks and two safeties). The premise behind this system is to help stop the zone read option game.

It’s always said in football that certain philosophies are “cyclical,” meaning the concepts always come back at some point. With only six people in the tackle box (from offensive tackle to offensive tackle on the defensive side of the ball), you have to start wondering if offensive coordinators are going to revert back to a power running game in an attempt to get the defense to change their look. A lower number of players inside makes it more likely to run the ball up the middle. Will we start to see more pistol formation with two backs and isolation plays called like counter trey or belly? It sure seems that this will be the next step for offenses to combat this new style of defense.

Most teams in free agency this year made it apparent that they are more concerned about stopping the pass than the run and rightfully so. Across the NFL quarterbacks threw for a total of 120,626 yards for the season, easily the highest in the history of the league. With teams like the New York Giants signing two free agent cornerbacks to go along with Prince Amukamura and other teams jumping at the opportunity to throw big money at defensive backs is evidence that defensive coordinators are trying to stop the passing game and make teams run the ball.

Here is why teams may look to run the ball more often against a 4-2-5 defensive alignment:

This is a break down of the Carolina Panthers rushing defense against the San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last season. Observe the alignments of the defense: four down linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs (DB), which are all circled below. Four of the five defensive backs are in quarters coverage, meaning they each defend 1/4 of the field.

Coach_Clips

The circled defensive back below is called a “rover” or plus one player, here DB Captain Munnerlyn is playing this position. By using a rover in their defense the Panthers have an additional player on one side of the ball which the 49er’s can’t block. It’s a tactic to try and make the offense change their play at the line of scrimmage.

photo 3

The 49er’s are going to run the zone read to the top of the screen and Kaepernick will key on defensive end Mario Addison #97(circled below). Addison is supposed to bend inwards towards the middle of the line of scrimmage and tackle Frank Gore because he’s unblocked, but he came upfield rather than bend towards Gore. The 49ers want to see Addison hesitate, and looking uncertain, since he is fearful of Kaepernick keeping the ball and running.  Addison moves slightly upfield instead of heading towards Gore, Kaepernick hands the ball off.

Coach_Clips (2)

If Addison did the right thing and moves or bends to Gore (shown by arrow in the picture below), Kaepernick’s rule is to pull the ball and run with it towards to bottom of the screen. Normally, Kaepernick would be running free, but because of the “rover” (Munnerlyn), it eliminates the big gash runs he had in 2012.

photo 4

The linebackers have two entirely different reads from each other. Luke Kuechly (#59 arrow closest to bottom of picture) is reading the center. If the center steps to his right Kuechly will fill the backside “B gap,” two away from the center, shown in the picture above. If he sees the center step to his left, he fills the playside “A gap,” the gap on the shoulder of the center (below).

photo 5

The “rover” Munnerlyn has two run responsibilities on this play. His first one is the tight end/flanker Vernon Davis. If Davis blocks down, Munnerlyn will fly up to the line of scrimmage ready for a bounced play or spill by Gore.

photo 3

On this particular play Munnerlyn will have to avoid the block of Davis in order to tackle Kaepernick. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh got creative to get Kaepernick some free space to run so he put Davis as a wing back to block Munnerlyn. Once avoiding the block from Davis, Munnerlyn will have to come up and make the tackle on Kaepernick who’s running full speed (this particular play Kaepernick handed off to Gore).

Coach_Clips (3)

This is how the 4-2-5 alignment helps defend the zone read and also having five defensive backs in the game helps against the pass as well. More and more teams are going to this defensive scheme, so offensive coordinators are going to have to respond to it. This is why the ground and pound philosophy out of the pistol formation or even a traditional spread formation with one back in the backfield may make a comeback.

One of the reasons the Green Bay Packers drafted running back Eddie Lacy was to attack this particular defense. Although Green Bay does not run the read option their quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a tremendous passer, so they saw a lot of 4-2-5 to get another defensive back in the game to defend the pass. This left the defense susceptible to big runs up the middle. Lacy, at 230lbs, is a tough back to tackle and he is the answer to a team that may play six men in the box.

The 49er’s re-signing fullback Bruce Miller shows that the use of the this position is going to be vital for them in the upcoming season. Miller can line up in the backfield with Frank Gore or Kendall Hunter and lead the way in traditional power run game plays. There’s no doubt that the run game will start to come back as more teams adopt this scheme to stop athletic running quarterbacks or those who spread the field relying heavily on their passing game.

Obviously most fans want to see a lot of passing because it’s more exciting than the ground and pound game.  Unfortunately, most coordinators don’t care what the fans want.  They’re more interested in catching the defense by having more offensive blockers than the defense can handle.  It’s not the definite case that the ground and pound comes back, but the next step to solving this 4-2-5 defense would be power football.   However, with only 6 people in the box, this would be the next step.

It’s always a chess match between offensive and defense coordinators trying to get a leg up on their opponents and this will continue to be the case.