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.
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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.