The New York Jets escaped Dallas Saturday night with a much needed victory that improved their record to 9-5 and kept their playoff hopes alive. With that being said, the Jets also played an increasingly sloppy game that was marred by penalties and stalled drives, and needed a last minute Ryan Fitzpatrick drive and Randy Bullock field goal to knock off the 4-10 Cowboys.
One of the consistent issues the Jets had on Saturday was picking up yards on the ground in short yardage situations. Several times, they lined up on 3rd and 4th down and 1 and handed the ball to back Chris Ivory, but were unable to pick up the necessary yardage.
What is interesting is that all of these failures came out of essentially the same play. We will examine the one that had the biggest impact on the game. With just over 3 minutes remaining in the 1st quarter and trailing 3-0, the Jets faced a 4th and about a foot from the Cowboys’ 2-yard line. (Watch the video on NFL.com by clicking here).
The Jets come out in there 22 (heavy) personnel: 2 tight ends and 2 running backs. Marshall is the lone receiver split to the top of the screen, and is matched by cornerback Brandon Carr. One tight end is on either side of the formation, and the fullback, Tommy Bohanon, is offset to the left. The Cowboys respond by packing the box. It’s simple, man on man, power football time.
The Jets want to run power to the left, behind the trio of Ferguson, Carpenter, and Mangold. Right guard Brian Winters will also pull to that side to kick out the defensive end, and Bohanon is meant to lead up in the created hole:
Mangold and Carpenter are both responsible for the defensive linemen to their inside. They need to block down on them and wash them out of the play. Ferguson has to get to the second level and block the first white jersey in the hole. Davis, the tight end to that side, needs to cut off the defensive end (76) to slow him down and then get to the second level. Winters, the pulling guard, then has to kick out the defensive end. This should create a hole in between the down blocks of Ferguson and Carpenter and the kickout block by Winters. On the backside, the right tackle Giacomini needs to cut off the backside linebacker and Cumberland, the backside tight end, just needs to make sure the backside defensive end can’t disrupt the play.
Several things go awry for the Jets here. First occurs on the playside. Davis is unable to cut off the playside defensive end. 76 is thus able to slice into the backfield quickly:
This means that instead of Winters’s kickout block happening at the edge of the tackle box, it is almost in the middle of the formation:
While this is not ideal, it does not doom the play in and of itself. There is still somewhat of a hole, likely at least enough for Ivory to pick up the foot needed for a first down. Unfortunately, the play also is blown up from the back side.
When running power, it is vital for the end man on the line of scrimmage away from the play(on this play, tight end Jeff Cumberland), to prevent the backside defensive end from crashing into the backfield unabated. This is because power is a fairly slow developing play, and the end can beat the running back to the hole from the backside.
Usually, teams will employ a cut block on this defender. After all, all they need to do is keep him delayed for a split second; that is enough to keep him out of the play. Cumberland, however, is unable to do this:
This allows the backside defensive end to slip into the backfield and make the tackle:
Similar blocking failures on the edge of the box lead to the failures on other short yardage running plays. If the Jets want to remedy this problem, they have 2 options: either 1. stop running power (running plays with pulling linemen) in short yardage situations or 2. start cutting on the backside to ensure the backside end cannot make the play. Either way, this issue is absolutely something that needs to be addressed if the Jets want to win their next 2 games and have a shot at the playoffs.