Mike LaFleur should lift the dark offensive clouds
New York Jets fans have long awaited to see offensive dominance in New Jersey, as the team has not ranked in the top five in scoring since 1998.
A new coaching staff hopes to change that.
Excitingly, the dark cloud that floats around the Jets offense could finally begin to drift in 2021. Not that New York will field the “Greatest Show on Turf” part two; but with the arrival of the modern-minded Mike LaFleur and his staff, the Jets offense appears to have finally opened the door to the 21st century.
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Good attacks always feature a handful of self-identifying plays. For years, Jets fans have seen the New England Patriots dominate the league with Hoss Y Juke and Play Action Y cross, while Cowboys fans still remember Jason Witten’s classic Y Option on third downs.
Filled with optimism, I have separated some plays that I believe can become the marquee weapons of this new Jets offense.
LaFleur’s skill-position players prominently highlight each design. The five staples highlighted today showcase Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Michael Carter, Zach Wilson and the starting tight end.
Starting simple: Michael Carter and the outside/wide zone
The Jets’ running scheme favors speed, vision and cutbacks on the second level. Michael Carter possesses great speed and one-cut ability.
It sounds like a match made in heaven, and it really is.
While it’s admittedly tiring to continue hearing about how the Jets will run outside/wide zone, it’s also true. Carter was their pick at the top of the fourth round for that reason. The Jets were lucky he fell to them and they knew it.
Below are two plays that exemplify Carter’s potential utilization in the Jets offense.
- The San Francisco 49ers’ long rushing touchdown against the Jets in Week 2 featuring wide-zone blocking.
- A long Carter touchdown against Miami in 2020—a play the kid’s speed and vision jump out.
By the end of 2021, Carter and the wide zone will be best friends, and Jets fans will love it.
Elijah Moore and the Jet: To fool and to attack
Elijah Moore is a complete wide receiver and will be this team’s go-to guy for years to come.
Early in his career, I expect that the majority of his workload will come as a jet-motion player. Moore is fast and will threaten the edges every time he comes across the line of scrimmage.
He possesses a sudden start-stop ability that all NFL defenses fear. Thanks to that, Elijah will also be used as a decoy. His game-breaking abilities will force a defense’s second level and secondary to flow east-west in order to open running lanes in the box for the Jets’ running backs.
The videos below show how the Niners benefited from Deebo Samuel’s jet motion ability—both with and without the ball in his hands. I expect the same impact from Moore in the Jets offense. The last video shows the ability he has as a runner with the ball in his hands.
Mesh concept: Made for Zach Wilson
I love the mesh concept. It’s a play that can beat any coverage—zone, man, blitz, etc. A quarterback is allowed to calmly progress through his reads in order to usually find someone open short. A good pre-snap read is crucial, too.
When watching Wilson’s tape pre-draft, I saw that BYU ran mesh a lot. They went to it multiple times a game, and Zach Wilson completed passes to every single route in his progression. Shallow, backside shallow, spot, bullet, backside tag are several examples. You name it, he threw it.
The mesh concept is a staple of the Shanahan tree and can be run from any formation and personnel. I expect the Jets to run a ton of mesh this year. The system loves it and Zach does too.
Below are a couple of Zach Wilson mesh reps in 2020.
Corey Davis: PA Dig
Sometimes I feel like Corey Davis has been overlooked by the majority of Jets fans and beat writers. Davis is a young player, trending upwards in his career, has a great variety of skills, and is known as an A+ locker room guy.
He is this team’s unquestioned WR1 heading into the season.
The same way the Jets will have schemed targets for Moore out of the jet motion, they will have also design targets for Davis with middle-of-the-field routes out of play-action on early downs.
It seems like the Jets will run the ball a lot (hopefully successfully). This will put a lot of stress on the opposing team’s linebackers, who will unconsciously execute read steps while moving forward. That’s where Davis enters.
Davis has proven to be a great target on between-the-hashes throws. He’s a solid route runner who’s not afraid to work the middle of the field and refuses to go down with the ball in his hands. I could see him doing a lot of damage on first down play-action after the Jets gashed the other team on the ground.
Below are two reps of Davis on Tennessee successfully running a dig/crosser out of PA.
TE Corner Post – Hiccup concept
Tyler Kroft has handled the majority of first-team reps thus far in camp, even though Chris Herndon might be the more talented player. The Miami product seems to never be able to consistently show up.
Anyway, the tight end group is one that will vastly benefit from a run-first offensive scheme. Outside zone runs, which put linebackers on the move early in the play, are going to set up the tight ends with opportunities to succeed. Envisioning the Jets starting tight end as at least solid is fair.
That’s why I separated the play below: the 49ers scheming a deep shot for tight end George Kittle.
Kittle is fantastic, but it’s the play design that gets him open here. I could see the Jets running the hiccup concept to their TEs a few times this season, especially if they can target them on crossers out of play action.
Remember that insane fadeaway throw Zach Wilson had at his BYU Pro Day?
That route was part of a Shanahan concept called Hiccup; where Kittle sells the deep corner in a 3-level Flood, then turns it into a post.
— Sam (@samcrnic) June 29, 2021
Football season is coming. Soon, we will all be talking about these plays and the impact they had on Sunday.
Hopefully, the Jets’ post-game pressers will once again ooze an optimistic feel.