New York Jets
Rex Ryan is one of the league’s most aggressive blitzers. Other coaches, like Dom Capers of the Packers, may be more creative about designing intricate blitzes with complex coverage behind them, but no one sends the whole locker room after the quarterback quite like Ryan. Ryan can get away with six and seven-defender blitzes because the Jets secondary excels in man coverage. If the safeties don’t have to play deep, they are free to do something more fun, like sack the quarterback.
Just because a blitz looks like a jail break doesn’t mean that it isn’t precisely planned. Both Pryce and Pace run stunts: after attacking the blockers directly in front of them, each loops to his right. Taylor takes a wide approach to the quarterback, while Harris plunges through a gap to eat up the blocking back. Taylor and Harris create a lot of space on the left side of the offensive line, while Pryce and Pace pull their blockers out of position by stunting. All of the commotion on the offensive left allows Brown and Ihedigbo to charge in from the right with only one blocker to stop them. Ihedigbo gets the sack on this play, but two other Jets defenders were just a half-step behind him.
The blue double lines in the diagram show why Ryan can send two defensive backs on a blitz without worry. All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis covers one wide receiver, a nickel cornerback covers an inside receiver, and a deep safety handles the tight end. On 3rd-and-long, Ryan can trust these defenders to play deep and not allow a first down. The only defender who gets safety support is cornerback Antonio Cromartie (31), a gambler who likes to jump routes in search of interceptions. Ryan can attack the quarterback from all angles and still give Cromartie some deep support in case he gambles and loses. Few coaches have this luxury.
With Revis covering Reggie Wayne, the other Jets defenders will have no trouble playing man coverage against the Colts’ depleted receiving corps. That means Ryan can use his full complement of blitzes. Peyton Manning is a hard quarterback to sack because he releases the ball so quickly, but if the Jets can force Manning out of his rhythm, they can force the Colts into the kind of low-scoring game Ryan prefers.
The Colts' offense has not changed much in the last decade. They line up with one running back and three receivers on most plays, often work from the shotgun, and use a no-huddle offense to give Peyton Manning an opportunity to call plays at the line. The Colts may only use a handful of formations, but they can run dozens of route combinations from each of them. As young receivers like Blair White have grown more comfortable with the Colts system, they have established the timing and precision needed to make the Colts’ deceptively complex system work.
The Colts are running mirror routes here: the receivers on the left are doing nearly the same thing as those on the right. The mirror concept allows Manning to quickly switch from right to left if defenders start rolling to one direction. Both tight end Jacob Tamme (84) and slot receiver White (15) pretend to run out-routes, cutting toward the sidelines before quickly turning upfield on skinny post routes. The Colts run a lot of out-routes with their inside receivers, so it is only natural that the defender covering White bites hard on his fake. White gets inside the defender, and because the safeties are so deep, there’s a wide throwing lane for Manning.
The Jets do not want to be forced into predictable coverage schemes, but the Colts often leave opponents no choice. How Rex Ryan counteracts “ordinary” plays like this will determine whether the Jets can keep the game low-scoring enough to produce a win.
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