Mike LaFleur’s go-to passing concepts have been perfect for Zach Wilson
Throughout the first two weeks of the preseason, New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur has shown a few of his favorite concepts for each passing situation during a game – early down, shot play, third down – and Zach Wilson has looked comfortable executing them.
This article’s intent is to showcase how these three following concepts operate: Flood, Peel (Post-Wheel), and Double Post. All of them were called at least twice by the Jets within the first two weeks of the preseason and seem to be LaFleur’s go-to calls in certain situations. For instance, the Jets have already converted two third downs by perfectly executing the double post concept.
It might be early, but after a couple of games, it seems certain that the days of running draw plays on third down are long gone, as are the days of first-down A-gap rush attempts.
The Jets’ offensive philosophy is no longer to seek third and short. In 21st-century fashion, the goal is to avoid third down at all costs.
LaFleur seems to have a pretty simple line of thought: be aggressive while giving your quarterback easy and quick answers.
Let’s dig into the concepts.
The Flood concept is all about… flooding. Yes.
The offense floods one side of the field with three routes occupying the three different sideline zones (flat, curl/out, and deep third). It’s a concept that fits this offense perfectly, because:
- It works really well with the boot action – when you are trying to limit the quarterback’s reads to only one side of the field
2. It can be executed from multiple alignments and formations – a big advantage for an offense that tries to make everything look the same from various spots.
Check out how LaFleur designs it very similarly on these two plays, both of which coming on early downs where the Jets are aiming for an easy completion.
The personnel is different (12 vs. the Giants, 11 vs. the Packers), but the routes are the same. The intention is clear: get easy yards and give Wilson an easy completion on first and second downs, which is important to accomplish the ultimate goal of avoiding third down.
LaFleur called Post Wheel more than two times against the Packers, but the focus will be on the ones executed by Zach Wilson.
What primarily stood out was the fact that the Jets’ offensive coordinator had the concept playing two different roles in his play call:
- As the primary read – on a deep shot attempt out of 21 personnel and play-action pass (play in which Wilson checked the ball down to Trevon Wesco)
- As the secondary read – on a play where the goal was to make the linebackers bite on the run action so Wilson could get the ball to Chris Herndon over the middle
Having the Post Wheel as a secondary read in case things break loose on a schemed completion is excellent planning by the Jets’ staff. It’s a great concept against zone coverage, especially when the cornerback is in the deep third zone and needs to flip his hips with the post.
It’s also worth highlighting that both plays were called on first down. This suggests that LaFleur calls his first down pass plays within the flow of the game. If it’s early in the game or if Wilson needs a bump, scheme an easy completion to get confidence and free yards. If the offense is coming off of good plays, shoot your shot.
The Double Post concept is not a usual man-beater concept. The double post is great against single-high zone coverages, absolutely, but it’s not a go-to man beater – especially if there’s no bunch/stack alignment to help receiver’s releases.
But the Jets converted two third downs vs. man coverage executing it. Why?
Because Mike LaFleur knows that, even though he might like a concept, some situational adaptation is always needed.
In two critical third downs against the Giants and Packers, LaFleur called the double post concept expecting to face man coverage, which he did. To help Jets receivers, LaFleur called a stack/close alignment, so the cornerbacks played with outside leverage.
Both Keelan Cole and Corey Davis were helped by LaFleur with his pre-snap look. It’s a lot easier to run an inside pattern when the cornerback is lined up on your outside hip, and that’s what LaFleur is trying to force with the stack alignment.
Check out the breakdown below. Davis, especially, does an excellent job at attacking the cornerback’s outside leverage. He attacks the defender outside stem and rocker steps inside to get wide open. It’s a great route that’s worth highlighting.
LaFleur’s early positives should not be overlooked
While some folks’ common sense might tell them to pump the brakes over the positive stuff, especially because it’s only preseason, it’s always worth looking at the meaningful signs – the translatable things. And, thus far, both the rookie quarterback and the rookie offensive coordinator don’t look like rookies.
In addition to showing aggressiveness, LaFleur has shown the ability to make one play connect with another. That’s the most crucial aspect of play calling.
The meaningful signs are all pointing in the right direction.