Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 Oct 2005

No Offense Taken

In what had to be the most boring game of the season, the Ravens beat the Jets 13-3. The game might as well have been 130-3 because there was no way New York was scoring 10 points in a half. And it wasn't all because of Brooks Bollinger. Jets receivers decided that catching the ball was optional, and leaving Bollinger in a lot of third-and-long scenarios didn't help things either. Two questions: If you're the Jets, do you continue with Bollinger, or was he a one-game stopgap for Vinny? After looking at their schedule, will the Jets finish last in the AFC East?

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 03 Oct 2005

19 comments, Last at 05 Oct 2005, 12:15pm by Mr Shush

Comments

1
by Theo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 10:33am

Watching the game with a friend of mine, a Bucs fan, it was quite joyable to see him talk about the Bucs going 5-0 this season.

2
by dryheat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 10:34am

I'll repeat what I said last week: The Jets Need to suck it up and trade for a viable quarterback. With the Patriots reeling, this is the year they could win the division with someone competent running the offense.

3
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 10:35am

now your new Fox site is double-posting itself

(I keep telling you: Fox=evil)

4
by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 10:49am

I got stuck with Jets @ Ravens last night. If the Jets want any shot at the playoffs this year then on last nights evidence then need Vinny to start next week.

Bollinger was competent and showed that he could follow orders and not turn the ball over, but not a lot else. The game plan ((Miami Dolphins 2002-03) didn't help him, and niether did the drops but there was never any indication that Bollinger would make a difference.

If the Jets open up the offense Bollinger might suprise us all but I doubt it. The fact that the Jets couldn't run the ball at all didn't help, but Bollinger was the #3 QB for a reason.

Vinny may be 182 and a statue in the pocket, but he has an arm defenses have to allow for. The big question is, do the Jets think that Vinny can get them to the playoffs? If not, then they may as well stick with Bollinger and see if he is viable.

5
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 11:08am

On last night's evidence, I'm not sure that some kind of genetically engineered freak of a quarterback, with Montana's brain in Vick's body, would get the Jets to the playoffs. They don't seem to be able to run the ball for toffee - the offensive line appears to have collapsed even faster than Martin, and their secondary was so bad even Anthony Wright could look good against it (with the exception of that flea-flicker play, where frankly I could have found the open man - and my playing experience consists of two plays at OLB and one in kick coverage in division 2 of the British American Football League). The Jets are heading straight for Leinart Land, and they might as well leave Bollinger in to pick up some experience along the way.

6
by Led (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 12:04pm

The gameplan gave Bollinger limited opportunities to succees and, yes, the receiver dropped the ball too many times, but Bolliner is clearly not the answer. One play was enough to make it impossible for me to ever see him as a leader of the team. Second and goal from the 1, a touchdown an absolute necessity and the running game struggling to get more than a yard or two on any one carry. Bollinger rolls out and INTENTIONALLY goes out of bounds for a 2 yard loss to avoid getting hit. No way the Jets were running it in from outside the 3. A competent NFL quarterback throws it away out of the back of the endzone and gives the team a puncher's chance for a TD on 3rd down. A feisty, young, athletic QB (which Bollinger is supposed to be) goes full bore to try to get to the pylon. Either way, you cannot intentionally take a loss there. You just can't. That play was both stupid AND tentative, a disastrous combination for an NFL QB. After that play, TMQ could have written "game over" in his notebook. I wrote "game over" for Brooks as an NFL QB in my mental notebook.

7
by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 2:43pm

A few things:

-The playcalling was what it was because the quarterback was physically incapable of executing a more challenging gameplan (as it turns out, he was incapable of executing this one, too). The offensive line was as bad as it was because Brooks Bollinger was playing quarterback and there was never the slightest threat that he could beat them down the field. The defense was free to stack the box, to shut down the run, and to rush the passer and blitz without ever having to worry about the consequences, because Bollinger wasn't capable of beating them.

When Ray Lewis was asked about how many players they might keep "in the box" Lewis praised Martin, but replied "we might put 11 men in there if we can."
Yes, it's in jest, but do you think that maybe, just maybe the Ravens didn't think Bollinger could be any factor?

I'm sure some anti-Vinny jets fans are going to stand on their head to insist that it was everyone else's fault and that Bollinger hung in there, but it's just not true. Did the team play badly? Yes. Did they get dominated at the line of scrimmage? Yes. Why? Because the Baltimore gameplan assumed they could attack the line of scrimmage without consequence. Baltimore jammed the Jets receivers at the line all game, they packed 8 in the box on a high number of plays (I've been counting on average one out of every three, and it's probably higher if there was a wider camera angle to utilize), and they attacked the LOS on both running and passing plays. I've got that Sunday night game between Indy and Baltimore on tape as well, and needless to say the Baltimore approach to defensive playcalling in that game bore absolutely no resemblance to what they did today.

Basically, the Ravens did what the average Madden player does- play bump n' run and attack on every down until you make them stop. The Jets never came close to making them stop.

And I don't want to hear about Bollinger getting it together late in the game when the team allowed him to throw. That last fourth quarter drive was bordering dangerously on garbage time.
Do I think Bollinger's play singlehandedly lost the game? No, I wouldn't say that, simply because he didn't make any plays to lose the game. Do I think his presence in the lineup was responsible for the Baltimore defensive gameplan and the complete shutting down of our offense? Yes, absolutely.

As for Vinny, I've been thinking about what to do with him as well. Vinny had a very interesting year statistically last season. This is what his play looked like by quarters:
First quarter- DPAR 21.9 DVOA 34.5% Pass plays 107
Second quarter- DPAR 13.0 DVOA 7.0% Pass plays 148
Third quarter- DPAR 10.8 DVOA 8.9% Pass plays 120
Fourth quarter- DPAR -9.2 DVOA -27.2% Pass plays 153

Vinny's numbers last year were Pro Bowl-caliber in the first quarter, then dwindled down to a bit above average in the second and third quarters, before becoming absolutely terrible in the fourth. What's interesting is that in the four games Vinny played with the Jets in 2003, his numbers showed a very similar pattern:
First- DPAR 13.5 DVOA 60.3% pass plays 43
Second- DPAR 10.1 DVOA 33.8% pass plays 48
Third- DPAR 7.9 DVOA 24.9% pass plays 49
Fourth- DPAR 5.5 DVOA 7.7% pass plays 64
(Heads-up to PFP 2005 for these numbers, btw.)

It's a smaller sample of games, and Vinny wasn't asked to put the ball up as much, so the downward trend is less dramatic, but the same pattern is there nonetheless. Vinny has started off games very strong, provided reasonable play in the middle game and then been at his worst in the fourth quarter. It suggests very strongly that Vinny gets tired as the game goes along, as would be expected of a player his age (and most old quarterbacks show a similar decline over the span of a game).
Once Vinny gets in as the starter-and I expect that to happen this week-the team is going to have to figure out a way to keep him fresh. What I'm thinking is that they utilize a quarterback rotation, where Bollinger gets 2-3 series a game to spell Vinny and perhaps act as a sparkplug. That way the team could do a Ray Lucas and give Bollinger a few specific packages with plays that he could execute well, probably things that required more mobility like rollouts and quarterback draws.

8
by Whatever0 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 2:57pm

Well, it's also important to remember he wasn't exactly facing a weak defense. The Ravens defense actually played up to the hype this time, dominating Martin and sacking Bollinger 5 times, with numerous other balls being thrown out of bounds to avoid the imminent sack.

All things considered, Bollinger didn't play that bad. The Jets don't have to rush Vinny out there until he's ready: given his age and no training camp, that may be another week or two. It's not like the rest of the offense is looking stellar. I doubt the Jets win 8 games this year.

9
by Dennis (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:18pm

The main problem is the Jets haven't been able to run the ball all season, not just yesterday. Martin was averaging 2.8 yards going into the game. If they don't get the running game going, it doesn't matter who they have at QB. Obviously it doesn't help when the defense stacks the line because they don't respect the QB, but the Jets weren't running the ball when Pennington was in.

As for Bollinger's performance, I agree that he should've dove for the endzone on the rollout. But aside from that, there wasn't a whole lot to criticize him for. He was put into a difficult position and then the game plan didn't make things any easier for him - run into the line twice and make him throw on third and long. And he didn't get a lot of help from the receivers either. (I'm still trying to figure out why the heck they traded for Jolley, but that's another thread.)

As a Jets fan, I say give him another start and let him throw the ball and see what he can do.

10
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:25pm

Sean:

Wouldn't a simpler thing simply be to try to use more three/four WR sets in the first half, try to build a lead (maybe 60% pass, 40% run) and then switch to running the ball heavily in the second half (like 70/30)?

If Vinny's main problem is wearing down in the second half, get Martin (and Blaylock? Hello? 2 carries?) in there to relieve him, not the Brooks Bollinger Experiment.

11
by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:47pm

The Jets offensive line didn't show that it could protect when the team went to 4 and 5 receiver sets against Kansas City, so they've had to scale down and use a lot more pro and ace sets. I'd love to say that going empty and putting up points early would be the solution, but the offensive line has to stabilize first. But then you get a chicken and egg situation. The line hasn't been able to stabilize in part because the Jets haven't put a quarterback on the field who was able to make defenses pay for stacking the box and jumping on all the short routes.

12
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 3:51pm

I think that depends on if Vinny's performance decline is a function of time or a function of number of throws. If he only has a certain number of throws in him (pitch count), Pat's game plan is just going to hasten his decline. Maybe a better plan would be to stick with a run-heavy (With large doses of Derrick Baylock, cause I don't think you can let Martin carry the ball 375+ times this season) offense through the game, and only have Vinny throw 18-24 times.

13
by Jersey Jets fan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 4:45pm

Everyone in the country knew the Jets were going to run Curtis Martin left, run Curtis Martin right, and run Curtis Martin some more. What an opportunity to have Brooks Bollinger throw a short dink/dunk pass on 1st down, surprising the defense, completing a high percentage pass that would instill some confidence in the kid. He could have thrown to Martin for a couple of yards, maybe a quick slant, etc. How dumb to hand the ball to Martin, hand the ball to Martin again, then have him pass on 3rd and long when everyone in the joint is expecting it. How about a short 3-4 yard completion to martin instead of the expected hand-off in the backfield? I think that the play-calling was just as detrimental to the Jets as was Bollinger's play.

14
by Joe Namath (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 4:48pm

if Vinny takes the Jets to 7 or 8 wins... might the Jets be better going 2-14 and solidifying a good draft choice? What's 8 and 8 going to get them? I'd rather have them lose every game and get a good pick...

15
by Vern (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 11:24pm

You've got tough competiton for that top pick. Year in and year out, Arizona just "wants it more."

16
by Jeff F (not verified) :: Tue, 10/04/2005 - 4:21am

Isn't the most valuable pick in the draft, taking account for cost and performance, something like the 10th pick in the second round?

How safe of a #1 pick is Leinart? I don't follow college ball, so while I know the name, I really can't say I know anything about him other than the team he plays for.

Sean - rotating the QBs around just makes too much sense. Particularly when Feidler comes back, where they will have a decent #2 to spell Testaverde with.

Could the Jets possibly trade Pennington, somehow? He has to have some value, as he is a good QB, as long as his arm heals up. Even if he's weak armed, he'd probably make a nice backup, but this would be a speculative choice for a team that can deal with the dead weight on their roster for a year or more (Arizona, anyone?).

Testaverde is a good QB, I don't think he's the complete joke that some people make him out to be, and the Jets could win a number of games with him under center. The problem is (for the Jets), it looks like the Pats would still be better than a Vinny led Jets team, and Miami could give them a run for their money, too, so while the Jets could theoretically make the playoffs, I think it's quite unlikely, even in the much weakened AFC East. Their best bet is to make best with what they have, without sacrificing future opportunity to seize the day.

17
by Jeff F (not verified) :: Tue, 10/04/2005 - 10:08am

Isn't the most valuable pick in the draft, taking account for cost and performance, something like the 10th pick in the second round?

How safe of a #1 pick is Leinart? I don't follow college ball, so while I know the name, I really can't say I know anything about him other than the team he plays for.

Sean - rotating the QBs around just makes too much sense. Particularly when Feidler comes back, where they will have a decent #2 to spell Testaverde with.

Could the Jets possibly trade Pennington, somehow? He has to have some value, as he is a good QB, as long as his arm heals up. Even if he's weak armed, he'd probably make a nice backup, but this would be a speculative choice for a team that can deal with the dead weight on their roster for a year or more (Arizona, anyone?).

Testaverde is a good QB, I don't think he's the complete joke that some people make him out to be, and the Jets could win a number of games with him under center. The problem is (for the Jets), it looks like the Pats would still be better than a Vinny led Jets team, and Miami could give them a run for their money, too, so while the Jets could theoretically make the playoffs, I think it's quite unlikely, even in the much weakened AFC East. Their best bet is to make best with what they have, without sacrificing future opportunity to seize the day.

18
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/04/2005 - 11:47am

The biggest dig about Leinhart was that his OC (now working for the Texans) has a reputation of producing great college QBs who don't work out in the NFL. It should be noted Carson Palmer came from the same system.
The problem with Vinny is he only has about 3 good quarters a game. Add to that the fact that Martin suddenly looks old, and I don't see the Jets doing much of anything, no matter who they have under center.

19
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2005 - 12:15pm

Martin looks old, the offensive line looks bad and the secondary is dreadful. The Jets are a bad, bad team, not a Ravens 03-04 style otherwise playoff team with a hopeless quarterback.