Back Shoulder Breakdown, Mike LaFleur, Zach Wilson, Mike Vrabel, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans
Back Shoulder Breakdown, Mike LaFleur, Zach Wilson, Mike Vrabel, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Jets offense has an opportunity to get off the runway against Tennessee

The New York Jets have played three contests thus far in the 2021 season. It feels safe to say the offensive side of the football has looked competent for a total of two whole quarters—the second half of their Week 1 matchup vs. the Carolina Panthers.

Outside of that, the Jets faithful’s offseason dreams of lighting up the scoreboard have turned into all too familiar nightmares of a sluggish offense riddled with question marks.

The criticism has been spread between offensive Mike LaFleur, quarterback Zach Wilson, the offensive line and the weapons as a group.

Yes, if you didn’t notice, that is essentially everyone that contributes to an offensive performance.

Ultimately, scoring a total of two touchdowns and averaging 6.7 points per game (23 of 32 teams are scoring over 21 points per game) is just not going to go over well with a passionate fanbase that has suffered for decades.

Being upset and spewing criticisms (to a certain extent, there’s no need to personally attack any player or coach) is warranted to this point. However, the beautiful thing about football is the time teams are afforded to evaluate, turn the page and work together in order to right the ship for the next opportunity.

Let’s analyze a few important things the Jets must focus on to get their offense on the right track. At the end of the article is a video film breakdown in which I lay out the Jets’ ideal offensive game-plan for the Titans’ defense.

Improvement starts with the meeting room’s overall mindset

This may sound like coachspeak. This may be a rant people don’t want to hear. And I get it … results are what matters. But you can’t see results unless you approach each week with a certain mindset.

Football has never and will never be easy. It is a humbling sport that requires mental toughness. You can become the hero just as quickly as you can become the villain.

It takes 60 minutes of all 11 players working together and executing their assignments to be successful. When it’s not working in your favor, leaders must step up, memories must be short, and focus must be laser-sharp.

That all starts the moment each member of the organization steps into the meeting room to prepare for the next practice, the next film session, the next day, and the next game. Everyone has to check their ego at the door, ask themselves how they can be better individually, and in turn, become a valuable asset to this group project.

For the Jets offense, there has to be a universal understanding that they cannot change what happened in Weeks 1-3, yet they can absolutely control what it is they want in each game moving forward.

Embrace the underdog mentality, fight in the face of adversity and generate a belief that there will be a response no matter the circumstances. Be contagious.

Prepare for takeoff

When the dust settles, it’s time to get to work. The week should begin with reviewing the previous game film. This offense is not in a position to burn or bury the tape after an abysmal performance.

Listen, LaFleur is calling plays for the first time, Zach is a rookie signal-caller who has played three games and the offensive line and skill positions do not have any continuity.

The previous game’s film must be a part of the evaluation process. However, this is where mental toughness and short memory come into play.

They cannot let the previous performance carry over. Learn from it, move on and focus on preparing for the next opponent.

On to Tennessee

In preparation for an offensive game plan, the obvious is dissecting the film of the Titans’ defense against the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, and Indianapolis Colts.

With a Titans’ defense giving up 28.0 points per game (25th), 4.3 yards per rush attempt (20th), 7.3 yards per pass play (25th), and 6.1 total yards per play (25th), the offensive staff must find the weaknesses they can exploit.

Schematically, LaFleur and his staff will be looking at tendencies pre-snap in terms of how the defense aligns against different formations, their response to motions, disguises and movement post-snap, and coverages.

They should determine route combinations that gave the secondary trouble. In the run game, are they more stout inside or have opponents enjoyed more success attacking the outside?

Lastly, you want to look individually to see how a secondary player’s alignment can indicate coverage, their man coverage abilities, and aggressiveness in zone coverages.

Tactics that Mike LaFleur can incorporate in the game plan to get the offense rolling

For this film breakdown, I analyzed All-22 footage from the Cardinals’ opening drive against the Titans and the entirety of Indianapolis’ game against Tennessee.

The plays are broken into themes of offensive game planning that I think are imperative for Mike LaFleur to incorporate for the Jets offense.

The themes include the following:

  • Spreading out the offensive formations to create better spacing, which will also open up the intermediate middle of the field.
  • Attacking the Cover 2 hole outside the numbers.
  • Taking advantage of non-aggressive corners, whether that’s using the outside run game, quick passes to the flat or wide receiver screens to get speed in space.

It’s time to turn the offense around and watch quarterback Zach Wilson operate this offense the way the Jets believed he could when they took him with the second overall pick.

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James Wighaus started Back Shoulder Breakdown as an Instagram page in September 2020. His vision was to create X's and O's content for those that enjoyed the game of football but were searching for a deeper understanding of what goes on in between the white lines. The ex-quarterback and film junkie provides film breakdowns and intriguing analysis that takes you straight to the gridiron and into the mind of the player. Email: james.wighaus[at]
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