Mike LaFleur, Mekhi Becton
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Jeff Kou breaks down the X’s and O’s behind the offensive scheme Mike LaFleur will likely install with the New York Jets.

The New York Jets offense will be quite different in 2021. Under new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, they will have the quarterback under center more often on early downs, and they will run more jet sweep and wide run plays.

They will also utilize more formations and motions to gain the numbers advantage on the perimeter and create better blocking angles. Their various personnel groupings will also keep defenses off-balance.

Here are some things to expect:

  1. An effective RPO game that allows Zach Wilson some easy decisions and plays on first and second down.
  2. More use of motions and shifts to get advantages in the run and pass game.
  3. More empty formations with Tevin Coleman utilized as a slot WR.
  4. A much better perimeter rushing attack with Michael Carter at RB and a jet sweep game with Elijah Moore.

The Jets staff realizes how important it is to run the ball against some of the most aggressive defensive coaches in the division. You have Josh Boyer and Brian Flores with the Dolphins, Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier with the Bills, and Bill Belichick with the Patriots. They are excellent at what they do and you can expect major pressure packages from them that will test Zach Wilson. You better run the ball and stay out of those third-and-long situations if you want to give your young QB a chance.

That is why the Jets added pieces to help the run game through the draft and free agency. Elijah Moore will help the jet-sweep perimeter run game. We should expect to see him in the backfield at times, motioning out with the Jets running some run-pass options and bubble screens to him.

Michael Carter is a great perimeter runner who will push the toss and wide zone to another level. Alijah Vera-Tucker was a great pickup at guard who will make the wide zone run game effective and give them some needed help in protection on the interior. Corey Davis will be a factor in the intermediate passing game and give Wilson a major weapon. Lastly, Tevin Coleman as a WR out of the backfield will cause matchup nightmares for defenses.

The other forgotten man is Chris Herndon. Expect him to be the beneficiary of some bootlegs, RPOs and other passes as Lafleur will find ways to get him the ball.

The Jets’ new staff does a great job running different plays from different formations. They run toss and run it out of a few formations. They will run RPO game from various sets but really are running the same play. They utilize formations and motions to dictate coverage, get the looks they want, and run plays accordingly.

Here are some of their go-to concepts:

1. RPO Game (Run pass options)

The QB will read the defense pre-snap and decide whether to give it to the RB or pull it and hit the WR on the pass play.

The Jets will use various RPOs this year. Here are a few that the 49ers loved to run.

Outside zone/TE drag RPO

This is a nice staple in the 49ers’ offense. They often run this play out of 21 personnel because teams often go 4-3 vs them with a Cover-3 look. The defense brings the safety down in the box, usually strong, leaving the backside curl vulnerable.

The 49ers love to run this on first down. Outside zone, QB reads the MIKE and they hit the TE dragging the other way.

Outside zone/slant RPO

Again, another RPO off the outside zone run play. The quarterback reads the curl-flat defender, sees the window, and hits the slant for 11 yards. This is a very nice design as the Eagles go to a cover 3, single-high look to play the run.

Garoppolo reads the WILL linebacker and hits the slant behind it. Great Read by Jimmy G and he hits the slant. Easy read for the quarterback and an easy completion.

2. Using Shifts and motions in the run game

Shanahan and LaFleur do this as good as anyone. They use it to their advantage to gain leverage in all aspects of their offense. Using shifts and motions creates blocking angles and leverage in the run game.

Here is an easy shift where they trade the tight end from one side to the other to create great angles in the run game to run the jet sweep. The guard and tackle now have easy blocks and the perimeter is solidified with the WR and tight end.

3. Creating Matchups with empty formations

It is going to be exciting to watch with Tevin Coleman in the passing game. As Jets X-Factor’s Michael Nania broke down, he offers great ability in this phase.

Consider the options when the Jets go 11 personnel with TE-Herndon, RB-Coleman, and Davis, Mims, and either Crowder or Moore out wide. They really have some things they can do with Coleman in the slot.

Here’s the effect it will have. It’s not always that he will be the primary WR, but the fact that he is so efficient as a RB out of the backfield, it will create a lot of options out of empty-backfield sets.

Here are the 49ers last year against the Bucs. The down and distance is third-and-12.

In the first example, they go empty and the Bucs play a 2 shell. The MIKE opens to No. 3 and they work the double slant concept on the backside. The leverage allows Garoppolo to hit the slant and work the backside.

On first-and-10, they come out in 21 personnel and shift to empty. The Bucs are stuck because they are in base 3-4 personnel. They are a little confused, going man-free and putting a LB on Coleman. The mesh route concept allows Coleman to get free and they hit him for a 31-yard gain.

These are just a few of the ways you will see Tevin Coleman used with Herndon and others in both 11,12 and 21 personnel. Coleman gives them great flexibility and creates matchups all over the field.

4. A more creative perimeter run game

The Jets were one of the worst teams in the league in picking up runs for 20+ yards. They lacked a dynamic running back that was capable of breaking off the big runs on the perimeter.

The addition of Michael Carter changes that. Carter had 29 carries for 20+ yards over the past two years and shows great explosiveness. Frank Gore had six carries for 20+ yards as the Jets’ featured back last year. That’s a big difference as the Jets will feature more of a perimeter toss game.

Again, they create angles with the condensed formation and get great blocks on the perimeter. They seal the edge and get a nice 15-yard gain.


The Jets have added some nice pieces to help them gain an advantage in the run game. The addition of Tevin Coleman gives them a nice addition in the passing game while Michael Carter and Elijah Moore are great compliments for the perimeter run game.

I am excited to see the Jets in 2021.

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