Connor McGovern defends himself against a viral screenshot
When it’s going good, it’s going great. But when it’s bad, it’s awful.
That’s the story of the New York Jets. The team can’t simply start the season 0-3 in a normal way; they have to do it in their own Jets fashion.
McGovern, the Jets’ starting center, apparently responded to a fan (via Instagram DM) who messaged him with a viral screenshot of a pass-pro rep featuring him turning away from an unblocked defender.
McGovern responded to defend himself, writing, “Slider (right). I have the right A gap. I’m doing my job. You not understanding ball is why players do not give a (expletive) about you (expletive) trolls. You have no idea about scheme and how ball is played.”
So, what really happened on this play? Is McGovern right, which would also mean he sort of threw a teammate under the bus? Or, is he actually at fault?
Let’s examine all the options.
Examining the play, cycling through each scenario
The assumption here is that McGovern called a slide protection (be it half-slide or full slide) because he sees the threat of the two stand-up middle linebackers both aligned to the right side of the ball.
1. Full-slide right: George Fant, Alijah Vera-Tucker both miss their assignments
This is the least likely possibility, and it should be pointed out from the start.
If the protection called by McGovern is full slide right, every single offensive lineman is responsible for their right-side gap, which means left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker was responsible for the leaking nose tackle (left A-gap, his right side).
Assuming the call is a full slide to the right, then left tackle George Fant should’ve also stepped to his right (left side B-gap) as soon as the ball was snapped, which didn’t happen.
This is a highly unlikely possibility because it’s rare to see two offensive linemen missing their assignments so blatantly in one single play.
2. Half-slide right. Do the Jets consider Malik Reed, No. 59, a “big”?
The second possibility that needs to be examined is McGovern calling a half-slide right protection, which means every lineman on the right from McGovern on (C, RG, RT) should be sliding right, protecting their right side gap, while the left side of the line is on big-on-big protection – meaning, each left-side offensive lineman is responsible for a defensive lineman.
The key here, to define who’s to blame for the pressure, is if the Jets are considering a stand-up linebacker as a “big defender” or not.
As the video shows, Malik Reed, No. 59, is the outside linebacker standing up on the outside shoulder of tight end Ryan Griffin. “Big” usually means a hand-on-turf defender (defensive lineman). When the line checks half-slide right, it usually means that every left-side lineman is responsible for a “big” defender.
George Fant, then, would have the 4i-tech (DT lined up across from him), No. 96 Shelby Harris, and Alijah Vera-Tucker would be responsible for the nose tackle, No. 98 Mike Purcell.
If this is the case, then Vera-Tucker missed his assignment and should have picked up the nose tackle (and from his immediate reaction to the play, it sure seems like he did indeed miss this one).
3. Half-slide right, Malik Reed, No. 59, considered a “big”.
The last option, which is also not very likely, is that the Jets could have considered Malik Reed a “big” defender. Since he’s subbing in for Bradley Chubb, and the Broncos love to use both of their outside linebackers as pass rushers, this scenario makes some sense.
If that is the case, McGovern is to blame.
On the assumption that Reed is a “big” defender, Fant is going to handle him, Vera-Tucker will handle Shelby Harris (the 4i-tech across from Fant) and McGovern will have to cancel the slide and handle Purcell, since he’s the last man to be defended by the slide and is crossing the face of the last man responsible for the slide (McGovern).
As long as the last man responsible for the slide (C) has a threat coming right across his face, he’s supposed to cancel the slide and handle the threat.
This possibility is highly unlikely because the Jets are keeping Ryan Griffin in as a “lookout” for Reed. Griffin only releases to his check down when he realizes that Reed is not coming in. Also, Fant completely ignores Reed and handles Shelby Harris immediately.
After examining all the scenarios, it sure looks like Vera-Tucker, the rookie, made a mistake.
Even though that might be the case, it would be nice if his veteran teammate wasn’t the first one to point it out to the world. Then again, McGovern communicated it via DM during a time the entirety of Jets social media was sharing a viral screenshot that has no chance to portray the entire story.
In the end, we’re left with yet another example of how social media produces nonsensical thoughts in New York Jets land.
Audio Version available to members only. Learn more here.