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Word of Muth: Rotten Apple

Luke Falk
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Ben Muth

I always enjoy when one of the teams I'm covering is playing in a prime-time game. It means that I'll be able to watch the whole game live and get a feel for what I think is happening, and then rewatch it and get a much better feel for what actually happened. The Jets played the Browns on Monday Night Football this week, and it made me second-guess my own initial excitement because midway through the second quarter I realized I was going to have to relive this Jets offensive performance a second time. But there are often times when a new camera angle and a second viewing can illuminate positives you missed on the live viewing. It didn't happen this week, but it does happen.

There's a famous scene from the Kevin Costner classic Bull Durham where the manager is chewing out a minor league baseball team for lollygagging and poor play in general. During his rant he asks his assistant coach what their record is. The assistant lets him know their record is 8-16. All the head coach can respond with is a disgusted "How did we ever win eight?" It's a great scene in a great movie that I couldn't get out of my head on my second viewing of this game. The Jets lost 23-3 on Monday night and after rewatching the game all I could think is "how did they ever score three?"

The Jets didn't do anything on offense particularly well. There weren't really any standout players (Le'Veon Bell did make some people miss). It seemed like their best play was letting Myles Garrett hit the quarterback and hope he fell on him with all his weight to draw a flag.

The Jets offensive line was pretty bad across the board. They didn't run it well, they couldn't protect, they made mental errors, and they got beat physically. It was a thorough beatdown by the Browns defense.

This play encapsulates a lot of what went wrong for New York all night. Let's start with offseason acquisitions Kelechi Osemele (left guard, 70) and Ryan Kalil (center, 55). They're clearly on very different pages. Osemele is blocking like he and Kalil are working in combination. Kalil looks like he expects to be working with the backside guard. The result is a play-side three-technique going unblocked on inside zone. Just a total disaster of a play.

If I had to guess, I'd say this is Kalil's mistake based off how the right tackle is blocking. He clearly thinks he's working with the right guard. Of course, if Kalil is working on the wrong down lineman, I think Osemele is working to the wrong linebacker. The Jets are so screwed up though it's tough to tell where everyone is supposed to be going.

One guy who is going to the right place is left tackle Kelvin Beachum (68). The issue is that he completely whiffs when he gets there. Beachum had a rough night at the office, and this is just a taste of things to come. His footwork isn't awful initially, but he just lunges and eats dirt against the quick swim.

Miscommunication and confusion also affected the Jets' ability to throw the ball.

Once again the Jets are so messed up it's impossible to tell who is at fault. My guess is that Beachum needs to slow himself down once he sees a potential blitzer walk up to the line of scrimmage. That would allow him to take a slanting Myles Garrett (95) as he steps down (again, slowly) to sell the fake, and only leave one defender off the edge for the tight end. If the Jets coach Beachum to always sell the fake, then tight end Ryan Griffin (84) has to take Garrett there, and make the blitzers run around them to get to the quarterback.

Even if New York had executed the back side of the protection, there are issues on the right side as well. I have no idea why Brian Winters (67) is in such a hurry at right guard. He really makes life difficult for Kalil. With a shaded nose, Kalil is trying to stay pretty heavy on the back side to help Osemele. But he has to leave too quickly because Winters is so aggressive in getting outside. Winters really hangs Kalil out to dry. Because of this, the Jets don't do a particularly good job on either defensive tackle.

I mean, what the hell is going on? This is so bad. I think Griffin is screwed up here, and that he and right tackle Brandon Shell (72) should be responsible for the defensive end and linebacker off the ball. So I don't know why he's chasing the outside linebacker. If he is responsible for the outside linebacker, his pass set of taking a couple steps inside is horrific and Shell's pass set would be just as bad, so I don't think that's his man -- I just have no idea why he's chasing him. Also, the tight end coming across the formation (Daniel Brown, 87) is completely useless and doesn't come close to blocking anyone.

The other disheartening thing is that once again the guys who do know who they're blocking don't fare much better than the guys who blew their assignments. Osemele gets caught off guard by the slant and can't redirect. The Jets offensive line really looked unathletic Monday night, and everyone seemed to struggle with Cleveland's movement.

Beachum also gets beat here. As an offensive tackle vs. a wide rusher, if you can get three good kick-steps with your shoulders relatively square, you will put yourself in great position to win the rep. Beachum takes two good initial kick-steps, but then he steps underneath himself and turns his hips upfield on the third, and that opens the gate for the defensive end to beat him around the edge. When you don't gain any ground on that third slide, you shorten the corner too much and really put yourself in a bad spot to try to run the defensive end past the quarterback.

Beachum really did have a rotten day in pass protection. Here, he's trying a really aggressively set against a defensive end (Olivier Vernon, 54) who is a little more tightly aligned than in the previous GIF. If you're going to set this aggressively, though, you cannot miss with your hands. Beachum's footwork is aggressive like a jump set, but his punch is slow and looping. He looks like he's trying to put clamps on the rusher. He misses, and now the defensive end is already on his hip so Beachum has no choice but to grab him and hope he gets away with it. He didn't get away with it and drew the holding penalty.

Osemele got beat again by a stunting defensive tackle (Larry Ogunjobi, 65), but the running back (Ty Montgomery, 88) was there to trip Ogunjobi up. Osemele doesn't look like he's moving like he used to for Baltimore, but it looks like he still has a mean streak at least.

via Gfycat

As rough as Beachum's night was, it wasn't all on him. The guy he was blocking is pretty good too. This may not look like it, but that's a hell of a move from Garrett. I'm not sure there are five guys in the league that who can go from a finesse to power as quickly and effectively as him. That's a great get-off, and then he changes direction to almost back away from Beachum while still moving forward. Look at the distance Garrett creates right as Beachum punches. After Garrett separates enough to take away any power Beachum has on his punch, he reaccelerates with enough force to walk Beachum straight back into the quarterback. To change directions like that at the top of your rush and then redirect into that effective of a bull is freak athlete stuff.

It was a long night for New York and there aren't a lot of bright spots to look ahead to going forward except for their starting quarterback's spleen shrinking back to normal size over the next month or so. I know I wouldn't want someone playing at increased risk of lacerating an organ playing behind an offensive line that played like this one did Monday.


17 comments, Last at 22 Sep 2019, 6:55am

1 "They didn't run it well,…

"They didn't run it well, they couldn't protect, they made mental errors, and they got beat physically."

At least they were consistent.

2 Jets O-line

Wow, that is brutal!

Curiously, does having two backup QB's calling the plays/setting the protections make a difference? I know that on some teams, the center makes the line call; but on others, the QB does. Either way, there's going to be a LOT of extra film-study and practice for the Jets blockers this week.

3 Backup QBs could certainly…

In reply to by Joseph

Backup QBs could certainly be an issue. Not only in setting protections but also in just staying in plays against fronts that you can't bock. A lot of playing QB is getting out of plays where what you called can't account for the look the defense gives you. 

4 Great Analysis

as always. Really educational. Given the communication problems you posit, it could be a very long day against someone who stunts and plays rush games as much as NWE.

5 This is super interesting…

This is super interesting and something that has me quite perplexed. The mental breakdowns, they happened to former probowlers and long time veterans, not hapless rookies. How does one explain this? it seems to me you either blame the coaches or this is the fault of the backup quarterbacks. I may be in the minority, but I find coaching an overrated component for on the field performance ( I think talent is vastly more important), but offensive line might be the biggest exception. I could never see a meltdown like this happening to NE or to an Alex Gibbs coached team


On the flip side, just as no team should be hiring coaches from the belichick tree, no one should ever hire the offensive coordinator for a Peyton manning-led offense. 

6 3rd picture

That gif and writeup were so brutal, when I got to "Beachum also gets beat here. As an offensive tackle vs. a wide rusher" i read that as an OT vs a WR, and my brain didn't even register that as being wrong. I read half the paragraph before I realized the OT didn't manage to get beaten by a receiver :)

9 A question for anyone who suffered through that game

Did Luke Falk actually look ok? Because I look at the stats, and they are decent. I knew the line got killed, and that Gase threw Beachum out there without any help, but the highlights were either the offensive line getting killed or Falk looking ok with some time in the pocket.

11 I'm no expert, and I'm a…

I'm no expert, and I'm a Browns fan, not a Jets fan, but yes, I thought Luke Falk looked pretty good.  He was very accurate.  He didn't throw anything long, but then, his O-line wasn't giving him time to even try that.  Overall, I was impressed by him.  He was regularly under siege but he hung in there and completed most of his passes.  Under the circumstances, he did everything you could ask for.

16 I didn't think so. He was…

I didn't think so. He was fine looking downfield and making reads, which isn't nothing, but I've never seen a QB with less awareness of the pass rush around him. He would just stand there, and either throw or get sacked. Hopefully he will improve with a little experience.

12 With almost a full week …

With almost a full week (darn Monday games) to take first team snaps and a game plan presumably designed around his skill sets, Falk should find it easier this week when … oh shoot.

Let's try this again. With no pressure on his shoulders and the whole world expecting him and his team to get blown out, Falk can relax and enjoy himself this Sunday, and just go play football and show everyone what he can do. Sort of like Fitzpatrick and Rosen last week.

17 Lucky for Falk

He won't be facing a coach known for gameplanning to attack an opponent's weaknesses.
For the NE defense, the one area of relative mediocrity is probably the pass rush, although Belichick does find ways to manufacture pressure. However, the secondary can cover for a long time and Falk will have to throw into tight windows if he hopes to get anything going.
What are the odds that Gase shoots for high variance by trying gadget plays, deep shots, going for it on favorable 4th downs. You know, giving his team some chance to win?