by Ben Muth
It's weird writing about a team after they looked so absolutely out of their league in a prime-time game two weeks ago. It's not pointless, because this article is as much about how teams and players develop over the course of the year as anything else, but it is deflating. The Jets played much better against Jacksonville last weekend than they did against New England on Monday night the week before, but this is still a team that would have a hard time keeping games close against the upper echelon of the NFL.
New York's offense had some success against the Jaguars, scoring a touchdown on the opening drive, but it still has a long way to go. And frankly the line is the biggest reason this offense is struggling right now. It doesn't matter if they're running or throwing the ball, the common denominator is not blocking enough people.
The pass-blocking failures probably stood out more because of the eight sacks, but run-blocking was every bit as rough as the pass protection.
This is pretty much a total failure of a play. There is not a single Jets blocker who would get a positive grade on this play. It starts with tight end Ryan Griffin (84). He gets knocked into the backfield and doesn't widen the edge enough; the defender (Yannick Ngakoue, 91) is controlling his gap and restricting the stretch of the play.
Left tackle Chuma Edoga (75) is tentative, indecisive, and ineffective. Typically on plays like this he should know by his third step whether he is going to take over Griffin's block, shove the edge wider and climb to the linebacker, or just climb straight to the next level. Edoga takes six Fred Flinstone-like steps and never really goes anywhere. He doesn't shove the edge player to widen the hole at all, and he's late climbing to the second level so he can't get an effective block there. Bad football.
Left guard Alex Lewis (71) gets knocked into the backfield (it looked even worse from the sideline angle) by the play-side defensive tackle (Taven Bryan, 90). Ryan Kalil (55) at center is behind the block of the linebacker (Austin Calitro, 58). The other guard, Brian Winters (67) doesn't get much help from Kalil and doesn't come particularly close to blocking the nose (Abry Jones, 95). Right tackle Brandon Shell (72) probably has the "best" block just because he's somewhat engaged with his defender even if he's not really slowing him down all that much.
This is as ugly as an outside zone can look in the NFL. The Jets seem to want to make it a base running play, but this is a long way from gaining any yards.
The Jets are actually close to having a play here, however. Their three interior linemen all do their jobs well. Lewis hooks the 3-technique (Akeem Spence, 97). Kalil and Winters do a great job working in combination and block both the nose and the backside linebacker. Edoba isn't great, but he's not awful. There's a play here if Shell at right tackle is better on the back side.
But Shell is really bad, and usually when you're bad on outside zone you're bad from your first step. You can't see it initially because the defender is in the way, but that's a brutal first step. You can see it lands right next to his back foot, so he has taken one step and moved the wrong way about 1 yard, There are not a lot of tackles in the NFL athletic enough to block a backside 3-technique with crappy footwork, and Shell certainly isn't one of them.
This is why running the football is so tough. It takes everyone up front working together to do their job, and if one guy drops the ball it's really tough to gain any yards.
The Jets offensive tackle situation was an issue all day. In the running game it wasn't great, but it was a full-on disaster in the passing game. Edoga, a rookie, had as rough a game as you'll see at the pro level.
Just like in the last running play, it's footwork that's the culprit. Look at how Edoga rolls over his outside foot on his second kick-step. He's not gaining any ground and the edge rusher beats him around the edge. At that point Edoga isn't strong enough to push the rusher by the quarterabck. Shell on the other side isn't great, but he's solid and it's because he's at least gaining ground with every step. You cannot afford false steps in this league.
Edoga was clearly just not comfortable kicking out to wide rushers all day, which is a problem if you are an offensive tackle (I said this exact thing about Levi Brown in this column like a decade ago). Here, he probably false starts and still gets beat around the edge. Again, it's his second step with that outside foot that betrays him as the thing just goes dead on him.
If you want to see what kicking out to a wider defender should look like, Lewis at left guard does it pretty dang well here. He gains ground with every kick (even if it's not a ton each time) and keeps a good wide base as he does it. Then he meets the defender at the top of the rush and stands him up. That's good stuff.
After getting beat all day, Edoga changed up his set here and went with a jump set. A jump set is a quicker, flatter set where you try to engage the defender as quickly as possible off the snap to catch him by surprise before he's into his rush. Here Edoga's feet are much better than they have been on any of the previous plays, but his hands are atrocious. As he's sliding he has his arms straight out to his side like a jet -- as in the plane, not the team. Then he doesn't punch so much as he attempts to clamp the defender. If you are going to jump set you have to do it violently enough to knock the defender off his rush course; Edoba never displaces the rusher, who comes right around him for the sack.
It was an absolutely rotten day for the Edoga and really the Jets as a whole. Having watched them play three times now, it's clear it's just not a very good offense. The worst part is still the way-too-frequent mental errors they make as a unit.
That can't happen. It looks like Lewis at left guard is wrong here as clearly Kalil thinks he is coming down on the shaded nose. It's hard enough to block guys when you're all on the same page, you cannot have total brain farts like this in protection in Week 8. Le'Veon Bell had a similar screwup in protection earlier in the game and it led to Darnold's first pick. Just inexcusable type stuff.