Home > Game Tape, NFL > Tale of the Tape: NFL Week 5 — Vikings at Jets

Tale of the Tape: NFL Week 5 — Vikings at Jets

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A LiveBall Sports Game Tape Review.

Notes from the Jets offense against the Vikings Defense

  • The Jets have a unique formation with their shotgun.  QB Mark Sanchez lines up just inside four yards from the center.  Most QBs in the shotgun line up a yard further back.  They can do this because of the strength of pass protectors C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore, and RB LaDainian Tomlinson, and it takes a lot of pressure off of their OT tandem, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Damian Woody, who do not need to drop as far to seal the edge in pass protection.
  • This slight variation also benefits QB Sanchez because it simplifies his drop.  Sanchez has a strong tendency to overthink simple things like his drop so he looks more like a conventional NFL quarterback, and the Jets are doing whatever they can to simplify the position for him.
  • One thing that Sanchez has in spades is a great sense of the pocket.  It’s almost too good, in the sense that he’s still reactive to pressure at his feet while he looks downfield.  Sanchez does not have a great sense of timing of plays, and can cause incompletions by holding the ball too long and isn’t sure when flushing towards the sideline is a good idea.  Sanchez, however, is a dangerous passer when he steps up in the pocket.  His best throw of this game was a stick throw to Jericho Cotchery in the first half as he slid up in the pocket.
  • Sanchez really, really struggles to do anything to the left side of the field.  A lot of his accuracy issues in this game were functions of the weather, but there’s just no velocity or accuracy on passes Sanchez throws to his left.
  • After evaluating them through two games, the Vikings Defensive Line is just not a factor this year.  Where is Jared Allen?  Was he active in this game?  A decisive win for D’Brickashaw Ferguson.  Pat Williams looks incredibly old.  The Vikings have great depth here, as the backups always show up on film (Le’Roi Guidry), but outside of a couple strong plays by Ray Edwards and Kevin Williams, the Vikings defensive line just isn’t a factor.
  • Chad Greenway, again, was a big factor against both the run and the past.  He’s taken over from E.J. Henderson as the Vikings best linebacker.  Henderson, well, plays as if his leg is 60% metal.
  • Ben Leber is a smooth coverage linebacker who was absolutely embarrassed trying merely to fill run fits against LaDainian Tomlinson.  It’s tougher to play a single gap system if the defensive line isn’t penetrating and driving them off the ball, because the keys you are reading end up right in front of your face.  Some of it was that, but Leber in trying to find the backside lane would completely lose Tomlinson.
  • Tomlinson’s horizontal explosiveness is absolutely back.  Watching the Vikings safeties, Madieu Williams and Hamza Abdullah, trying to funnel Tomlinson in space was an exercise in futility.  His straight line speed has felt the effects of age, but that’s not what’s important in the Jets scheme, which doesn’t thrive on long runs, but rather, hitting you in the mouth play after play.  There was no better scheme/money/player synergy signing this offseason than LaDainian Tomlinson to the Jets, and we all, myself included thought he was done.
  • Tomlinson is the one indispensable piece in the Jets offense.  If he’s healthy, they are the best team in football.  But he’s 31, and if/when he gets banged up, Shonn Green doesn’t have a fraction of the vision, nor the horizontal explosiveness or pass protection ability that Tomlinson has.  He does have the Jets OL in front of him though, so it’s not all bad.  Ultimately, the reason the Jets can’t win the super bowl this year is that it would take a miracle season for Tomlinson to play like this for 21 weeks, and they can’t replace him.
  • It’s going to be hard for the Jets to involve three receivers and a tight end with only one side of the field in the passing game.
  • The Jets ran inside trap and killed the Vikings with it.  Inside trap is a high school play that NFL offenses haven’t used since the early eighties.  The Vikings were helpless to stop it.
  • There’s just no consistency in the Jets’ passing game.  They have more than enough weapons for Sanchez, and the protection Sanchez gets will keep him on his feet for an entire game, and OC Brian Schottenheimer provides plenty of formation and play diversity, but there’s still too great of a need to protect Sanchez.  It will all work as long as Sanchez protects the football at historic rates.  If he turns the ball over, the Jets can’t throw themselves back into it.

Notes from the Vikings Offense against the Jets Defense

  • The Vikings have no system of pass protection.  Absolutely none.  From the individual protectors to the quarterback to the receivers, the Vikings do not protect Brett Favre and Favre does not protect the football.
  • The Vikings offensive strength is all about using a two back backfield to set the offensive edge and hit a dynamic running back off tackle at least four times a half.  In this game, the Jets basically told the Vikings where they could put their edge.  Peterson got a wall of green shirts wherever he went.
  • Efforts to run the same offensive strategy with Toby Gerhart proved the Vikings offensive coaching staff to be completely out of touch with reality.
  • The Vikings offensive line made a litany of mistakes in this game.  And that was just before the snap.
  • Man for a man, the Jets unheralded defensive line was unmovable by the Vikings offensive line.  Phil Loadholt in particular was taken wherever Shaun Ellis wanted him to go.
  • There’s not a whole lot Favre can do from the pocket on this team.  On the rare occasion the Jets let him move around, out, or up, Favre found a rhythm and made some seemingly impossible throws.
  • The Jets defense has an incredible ability to break down an opponents pass protection.  In passing downs, they can bring any four guys on the field, and the Vikings could be in max protect and still leave a guy hot for Favre.  You can’t win like that, but it’s why the Jets are so good against everyone they play.
  • The Vikings made a halftime adjustment to slow the blitz schemes of the Jets, and that adjustment was a second back in the backfield in for pass protection purposes on passing downs.  Favre was throwing three receiver routes with a check-down for most of the second half.
  • On Moss’ TD, the protection for Favre wasn’t any better.  It was just a straight go route by Moss, and Favre beat a slow developing blitz with a throw over the top of Antonio Cromartie.  Strong safety Jim Leonhard took a poor angle and wasn’t any help for Cromartie over the top (see: above).
  • Between Cromartie and Moss, the battle was mostly won by Cromartie.  Darrelle Revis was not much of a factor in this game.  His injury was a big reason that he isn’t covering Moss, and frankly, Cromartie was acquired by the Jets with the idea of defending Randy Moss twice in a season.
  • FS Brodney Pool was another Jets free agent pickup, Pool has freakish range in centerfield.  Hard to believe the Browns let him walk.
  • CB Kyle Wilson returns punts still, but on defense, he is getting limited snaps.
  • The Vikings have something with Moss on the outside, but Percy Harvin spent most of the first three quarters just killing the Vikings offense with easily avoidable mistakes.  The fourth quarter showed why the Vikings can’t do without Harvin, but he hangs his QB out to dry a lot.
  • Ultimately, the Vikings are going to continue to get killed by quality opponents.  For everything that went wrong for Favre in this game, he kept converting in third and long, and single-handedly kept the Vikings in this game with a bum elbow and no running game.  The only things the Vikings can rely on game to game is the outside running game, and the Jets flat took it away from them and forced them backwards in this game.  The 0 points scored in the first half was not a fluke.  The Vikings did not manage a 6 play drive in the first half.
  • The Jets defense is not a good pass defense purely by personnel.  The Jets have great faith in their blitz concepts to get home in time, and they time their blitzes better than any team I have ever seen before.  If, however, they have to play it straight across like the Vikings forced them to by keeping a second back in, those zone coverage concepts get really spacey.  I think it’s going to be tough for the Jets defense on the road this year, and that the offense is going to have to carry them in road games.
  • So far, it has.
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