Adding Corey Davis and Keelan Cole to a unit that already has Denzel Mims, the New York Jets have a trio of very solid blockers at WR.
Considering that they are preparing to deploy a wide-zone run scheme that will emphasize attacking the edges, the Jets will be running in the direction of the wide receivers quite a bit, making the quality of the blocking at the wide receiver position a very important variable. Whether or not the Jets’ receivers can sustain their blocks on the outside will often dictate whether a run play goes for a modest gain or a massive one.
The Jets have dealt with low-quality blocking from their wide receivers for years. It’s probably why the organization put in the effort this offseason to ensure it had a wide receiver group that is well-equipped for their run scheme. They already had one great blocker in Denzel Mims, who showcased impressive blocking ability as a rookie, and he is now joined by a pair of free-agent additions who are also known for their blocking in Corey Davis and Keelan Cole.
How can these three wideouts help to energize the Jets’ run game? Strap yourself in: It’s time for some thrilling wide receiver blocking film.
Mims’ blocking constantly popped off the screen throughout his rookie season. It was hailed as a strength of his while coming out of Baylor, and it most certainly translated to the NFL level in his rookie season.
Mims is on the front side of an outside zone and takes on Tre’Davious White, who lines up with outside leverage. White sits back patiently as he reads the play to see whether it’s a fake, leaving himself vulnerable. Mims takes advantage and engages aggressively.
While Mims’ hands come in wide rather than into the body, he is able to use his inside hand to grab White’s shoulder and his outside hand to Grab White’s outer half, and he drives him into the end zone. Nice form, as he stays square to maximize power and avoids lunging.
Mims motions across the formation into the left slot and is followed by Taron Johnson, one of the best run-stopping cornerbacks in the NFL (he led the position with 18 run stops in 2020). He does a solid job of selling the route and getting into the block.
When Mims gets to about the 47-48 yard line, you can see him lean up a bit and subtly chop his feet as if he is setting up a break, helping him to keep Johnson expecting a route rather than a block. Johnson buys it, as you can see him begin to backpedal rather than change his focus to engaging or locating the play.
Mims waits to throw his hands until he is right up in Johnson’s grill, creating plenty of movement and latching on for a good blocking rep.
Mims is the X receiver on the backside and the field side (opposite hash of the ball) of this play, and yet he still gives a good effort against Xavien Howard. Mims absorbs the jam from Howard and then shuffles his feet to gain inside leverage, putting himself between Howard and the play to prevent Howard from having a chance to get involved.
You never know when a run is going to break loose, so it’s imperative for every player on the field to give a full effort on every play. When big runs get chased down and stopped short of the end zone, the player who makes the stop is often a defensive back who was away from the play like Howard in the clip above.
That’s why teams need their receivers to block as Mims does in that clip. Eliminate the defender’s chance of becoming a last line of defense in the event that the runner gets into the open field.
Mims is the X receiver on the front side of this outside zone play. He gets even and releases outside to sell a go-route up the sideline and carry the cornerback out of the play.
Once the CB buys the route and opens his hips outside, Mims takes advantage of the CB’s disadvantageous positioning as he throws on the brake and attacks. Mims appears to get his hands into the body of the CB and he bullies him down the field.
Lining up opposite the 6-foot-3, 207-pound Mims will be the 6-foot-3, 209-pound Davis. Both players maximize the potential of their frame in the run game with good effort and technique.
Davis lines up tight to the formation and on the line of scrimmage, just over the outside shoulder of the defensive end. Tennessee runs a pitch in Davis’ direction. Davis is tasked with pinning the DE inside (250-pound Al-Quadin Muhammad).
Davis drops his outside foot, bends his knees, squares up Muhammad’s outer half, and fires his hands, ultimately getting the outside hand into Muhammad’s back and the inside hand into his shoulder pad. Being 40 pounds lighter, Davis is moved a bit, but his excellent fundamentals allow him to keep Muhammad pinned far enough inside so Derrick Henry can hit the edge for a big gain.
Davis does it again, this time pinning 271-pound Myles Garrett. He gets off the ball with excellent timing and explosion, and he keeps his hands low to work them into Garrett’s body.
These first two plays are impressive in themselves, but simply the fact that Tennessee was asking Davis to take on such difficult assignments tells you a lot about what they thought of his blocking ability.
Great effort, recognition, and awareness by Davis to find work and define a lane for Henry. Davis leaves the SAM linebacker for the tight end and moves up to the next level in search of someone to block. He identifies the strong safety crashing downhill aggressively.
After showing great recognition to find a man, Davis shows great hustle to actually pursue the block; a lot of wide receivers would have given a token effort in that situation. Davis then makes a smart and aware play as he decides to pursue the safety equally aggressively, charging at him to use his momentum against him and influence him to continue going downhill.
This makes Henry’s decision easy, as the inside is clearly cut off while a big lane opens up outside. And that’s one of the key goals of blocking: make the ball carrier’s decision easy. Davis accomplishes that here.
Cole has a slighter frame than Davis and Mims at 6-foot-1 and 194 pounds, but he still has good skill and willingness as a blocker nonetheless.
On the front side of the play and offset from the line of scrimmage, Cole takes on a CB in off-man coverage. The two players are separated by about eight yards, making it crucial for Cole to take a strong angle in the open field if he is to win the block.
The CB hops inside after the snap, so Cole positions himself outside with the goal of keeping the CB inside. After turning his hips inside, Cole shuffles outside, squares up his target, and drives off of his outside foot as he puts his head down and blasts the CB with his inside shoulder.
The hit is hard, but most importantly, Cole affirms a grip while making contact, keeping the CB pinned inside to open up a lane on the edge.
Cole gets a tough assignment as he is on the play side and tasked with a crack block on a safety who is lined up a few yards to the inside. Cole manages to pull it off as he gets behind the defender and shoves him through the C-gap, sending him upfield and past the running back.
It takes an outstanding cut from James Robinson to make this play successful, but without Cole’s effort, Robinson would probably have no chance at all.
What a way to close out the review. Cole executes the crack block on a defensive back lurking on the edge and takes his soul. The DB is completely unaware of Cole’s presence, so Cole is able to charge up and put everything he has into the blindsiding block, getting low and firing both hands directly into the center of the body.
As you watch the Jets’ run game this season, make sure to take a look at what the wide receivers are doing. Their blocking performance often plays a major role in the result of a run play. Some teams’ wide receivers are awesome blockers and grade the road for a bunch of big plays. Some teams’ wide receivers aren’t, and plays that could potentially be game-changing are limited to modest gains.
With Mims, Davis, and Cole aboard, the Jets should not have to worry about the upside of their successful run plays being minimized by lackluster blocking on the outside. When a run breaks loose, you can count on these wideouts to have their man locked up and sealed away from saving the play.
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