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Two baffling NY Jets coaching decisions in loss to Atlanta Falcons

Robert Saleh, NY Jets, Jeff Ulbrich, Mike LaFleur, London
Robert Saleh, NY Jets, Getty Images

Giving Ryan Griffin more than double the snaps as Elijah Moore

Perhaps this was a precaution to help Elijah Moore ease his way back in as he recovered from a concussion, but this was shocking: The New York Jets used Ryan Griffin (51 snaps, 91%) on more than double the snaps as Moore (23 snaps, 41%) in their 27-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Griffin was expected to see a boost in playing time with No. 1 tight end Tyler Kroft sidelined, but a boost to this extent is shocking. Kroft’s season-high snap ratio was 75%.

For Moore, the 41% snap ratio was a season-low. In the two games he did not leave early due to injury, Moore played 86% and 78% of the snaps.

Moore finished with zero catches on two targets. He is now averaging 16.5 yards per game through four appearances.

However, it is still not time to worry about Moore. Once again, he was open for big plays that were not capitalized upon due to something out of his control.

Moore opened himself up for a 43-yard touchdown that Zach Wilson underthrew, leading to a 41-yard defensive pass interference penalty. He was also open on a deep corner route that Wilson missed. The rookie has been a solid explosive-play threat throughout the season – the ball is just not finding him.

Meanwhile, Griffin was essentially useless while playing nearly the entire game. He was targeted twice and caught one pass for four yards.

As a blocker, the Jets trusted Griffin so little that they never ran the ball toward the sideline. They logged zero carries that were directed “left end” or “right end” in the official play-by-play, meaning they focused their rushing attack primarily toward the middle (where the tight ends are less likely to affect the play).

The Jets’ over-usage of the tight end position continues to be difficult to justify. Griffin playing more than double the number of snaps as Moore is, quite simply, very poor utilization of the talent on the roster.

Perhaps Mike LaFleur can use the bye week to re-evaluate his personnel usage.

Allowing defensive linemen to give up two touchdown passes

The Jets’ defensive play-calling in this game was highly suspect. Jeff Ulbrich and Robert Saleh relied on a lot of concepts and styles that they seldom used – if at all – over the first four weeks, and the results of those contrarian decisions were brutal.

One of the big issues was the defense’s reliance on zone blitzes. Typically, the Jets have been a team that relies on man blitzing. They would go all-out up front and play man-to-man with one safety on the back end.

In this game, the Jets got a lot more creative with their blitzes, and it was for the worse. New York would consistently drop its defensive linemen in an attempt to pull off exotic blitzes that brought pressure from various directions.

Unsurprisingly, Matt Ryan made the Jets pay for that strategy.

Each of Ryan’s two touchdown passes came against the coverage of a defensive lineman. John Franklin-Myers found himself one-on-one with talented tight end Kyle Pitts and gave up a score. Later, Bryce Huff was asked to drop back and cover a zone in the middle of the field and looked lost as Ryan zipped a touchdown to Hayden Hurst in Huff’s area.

Running these types of blitzes could be effective against a young quarterback who is more susceptible to being confused by such looks, but against a veteran like Ryan, this was a questionable approach – which is made even more puzzling by the fact that the Jets’ defense is not equipped to run such concepts. This is an attacking 4-3 defense, not a 3-4 defense with coverage-capable outside linebackers on the edge (like Gregg Williams’ Jets defenses).

The Jets’ coaching on the defensive side of the ball has been mostly good this season both in terms of play-calling and talent development, but this was a rough outing for the defensive staff.

In addition to the peculiar blitzing decisions, the staff also oversaw a secondary that frequently struggled with busted coverage assignments and lining up too far off the line of scrimmage pre-snap – two issues that were uncommon over the first four games. The staff has to take a good amount of blame for those two problems, especially considering that they coincided with the usage of a unique game-plan.

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2 years ago

What are your thoughts on the playcalling right after the third quarter fumble by Atlanta? I thought it was a huge mistake to call that across the field lateral on 2nd and 5. So many things could have gone wrong and taking a 6 yard loss was the least bad result. A rookie quarterback throwing backwards across the field could have easily resulted in a turnover. The resulting 6 yard loss killed all of the momentum from that huge turnover late in the game. The more I watch the more I think it was a mistake to bring in LaFleur as OC for this young offense.

2 years ago
Reply to  WhyJetsWhy

My bad. I just watched the replay and I guess it wasn’t a backwards pass. I still maintain it was bad playcalling to have the QB throw across the field on 2nd and 5.

2 years ago

My wish for next years draft, early as it is, is 2 top TE’s and 2 top OL. Preferably with the first 4 picks. This year was always going to be a learning year for Zach, and while I’m pretty sure he’ll improve, I am seeing now that we are not winning many games, maybe 5, 6 tops. Hopefully Seattle loses a bunch and we get a great pick, and Zach starts focusing on his fundamentals and making the easy gimme plays he keeps missing.

2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

Agreed, block, catch, tell a few jokes, sing you a song, do it all. We need a competent TE, or three.

2 years ago
Reply to  Jimjets

The Jets should continue to emphasize OL in the draft. TE is a mistake to target in the draft because TE’s are generally slow to develop and because quality TEs are always relatively affordable in free agency.

2 years ago

We all know the TE/FB group is brutal, why do they continue to hammer the two TE/FB sets? It takes one or two of the more talented WR’s off the field. I know Mims is in the dog house but it doesn’t take years of being a NFL scout to see his talent. Every game other than maybe ONE he makes a play that shows his skill. Moore and Mims are being CRUSHED by the sets. They need to go more WR and less TE and it’s time to put Moore in the slot. Trade Crowder, love him but he’s not part of the future, so right now he’s a “progress stopper.” Also, lost in this is the biggest loss of the off-season, Greg Knapp, rest his soul. He was the coach for both Zach AND LaFleur. Cavanaugh is not the answer, never thought he was a great QB coach. The inexperience is showing in the coaching staff, and yes, LaFleur is taking hits, now I see Saleh taking heat for “hiring a friend” but reality is Knapp would have changed a lot. The guy they really need to replace Knapp is Gary Kubiak. I’m not sure he would want the job considering reports on his health, but he’s the guy. They all worked together at one point, he’s from the “coaching tree” and has the “pelts.” He was involved in 7 super bowls, 3 as a player, won 3 as an assistant, and won 1 as HC. That’s the kind of person Saleh needs helping the offense as a whole.

2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

Is there an actual quote from someone in the Jets organization saying that was the reason why they didn’t add a veteran backup?

Even if true, that is a terrible reason. The point of having a veteran backup is not to be a mentor. It is to protect the team from going winless in the event that Wilson is injured or slow to develop.

Look at Seattle. They still have a chance to win games because they have Geno Smith and not Mike White. Geno is not there to mentor Russell Wilson.

verge tibbs
2 years ago

Friggin brutal, man. Gotta assume this was a rookie hc mistake of over thinking the strategy and ending up trying to pull off some fancy stuff when keeping it simple has been working. He’ll learn. But Griffin not only continuing to get too many snaps, now getting even more.. Never mind the obvious scarcity of mims sightings but this jag got more game time than moore too?! Obviously a legit TE is a huge need here but they gotta learn to work around it and have less te reliant personnel usage. I do worry that lefleur continues this nonsense. Hopefully not, unless jd makes a trade. Saleh n ulbrich i trust.