Join Date: May 2004
Editor's Note: Larry Pasquale, an NFL coach for 22 seasons, will preview every Jets game online at YESNetwork.com. Pasquale was an assistant with the Jets under Walt Michaels and Joe Walton from 1980-89. Click here if you have a question or comment for the coach.
The Jets' 10-0 loss to the Chicago Bears at the Meadowlands leaves them with a 5-5 record. Quarterback Chad Pennington had a very bad day, compliments of a very good Bear defense. Both of Pennington's interceptions were ugly choices. In both cases, Pennington threw the ball directly at the defender. That means he never saw the defender, which supports my theory that on some occasions, he needs to move out of the pocket in order to see the field.
(Granted, on the second interception, he was flushed from the pocket and threw the ball underhand, across his body and across the field, but it's still considered a drop-back situation because Pennington had to see the entire field. This is difficult for any quarterback. At 6-foot-1, Pennington isn't tall enough to do this from the pocket.)
In reality, the Jets lost to a superior football team. But the fact that they held them so close for so long indicates that the Jets are improving. A sign of this improvement came in the third quarter when they stuffed Thomas Jones three straight times near the goal line and held the Bears to merely a field goal. In retrospect, that field goal provided all the points the Bears would need. Bears kicker Robbie Gould is still perfect on the year (24-for-24).
You don't have to go back too far to remember how poor the Jets' tackling was. It has always been my opinion that tackling at the NFL level comes down to attitude. Some of the best tacklers on a given team are offensive players who play on special teams.
Early in the game, I thought the Jets mixed innovative runs with a three-step-drop passing attack that gave the Bears trouble. The Jets had a decided advantage in time of possession in the first half. Individually, the Bears have strong players, and Jets running back Leon Washington was brought down several times by arm tackles. Washington needs to get stronger on his feet. The Jets committed three turnovers including the onside kick to start the second half and those miscues proved to be the difference in the game.
At times, it looked like the most valuable players would be the two punters the Jets' Ben Graham had a 67-yard punt and the Bears' Brad Maynard answered with a 60-yarder.
The Jets are 5-5 and the Bears are 9-1, but the Jets gave the Bears all they could handle. A game like that proves that there isn't much difference between the good teams and the perceived mediocre or bad teams in the NFL. The Jets' inability to score, however, demonstrates that they need more talent to overcome a top-notch defense.
The Houston Texans have more than 20 first- and second-round draft choices on their roster. With each game, these high draft choices are gaining valuable experience. The Texans, with their new coaching staff and new attitude, are a team to watch in the season's final five weeks.
The Texans have definitely improved under Gary Kubiak not so much by their record, but in terms of the development of individual players, particularly quarterback David Carr. Under head coach Dom Capers, Carr doubled as a piρata. This season, Kubiak has helped Carr stay upright, and it's led to a stark change in his statistics.
On "This Week In Football," I show two formations and plays in which Kubiak has simplified the reads for Carr, where Carr is able to find his favorite receiver, Andre Johnson consistently. The simplification of progressions has allowed Carr to lead all NFL quarterbacks in completion percentage (69.5 percent), and become the ninth-rated passer (89.5), and vaulted Johnson to the top of the league in receptions and fourth in receiving yards.
Here are my keys to a Jets victory:
Offense: Attack cornerback DeMarcus Faggins
Defense: a) Stop running back Wali Lundy; b) Keep Carr from running
Special Teams: Protect on field goals vs. the Texans' power rush
The Texans' defense is pretty straightforward. They use basic fronts and coverages.The Texans use of an "over" or "under" defense provides a perfect opportunity for Pennington to bootleg away from the overloaded side. Since the Jets do not know which side the Texans will overload, calling the play at the line is the way to go. In the huddle, Pennington will simply say, "Bootleg." At the line, he'll make some superfluous calls, but only one will be meaningful. That will signify the direction of the bootleg. Pennington would prefer to have Laveranues Coles matched up one-on-one with DeMarcus Faggins when this play is called. This is desirable matchup for the Jets because Faggins is not a strong cover-corner, and Coles is the Jets' best receiver and Pennington's favorite target.
Texans defensive end Mario Williams the first overall pick in the 2006 draft plays on either side. Williams has to be nailed down, and the way to do it is with screens, traps and hard counts.
Running back Wali Lundy is big, fast and has moves. The Jets will treat him with the utmost respect. Lundy is as dangerous as the Bears' Thomas Jones, although his offensive line is not as good.
Since 2002, David Carr is fourth in rushing yards among quarterbacks. Carr's mobility makes it doubly important for the Jets to have someone spy him. In coaching terms, the Jets need to rush Carr with 3 ½ men.
The Texans have a superior field goal block rush. This is not a surprise, as the field goal block rush is a strength of special teams coach Joe Marciano. When you're watching the rush on television, you will see four defensive linemen spreading across the line from the end to the guard. Whoever is perceived to be the weakest blocker on the Jets' offensive line will have the best field goal blocker in his gap. In addition, the middle linebacker will be behind that lineman pushing him through the gap.
Based on my experience in the NFL, this is a game-changing play, because it's three points your team doesn't get, and a potential seven for the other team; in essence, it's a possible 10-point turnaround. The Jets must practice against this play more than once during the week.
That's my opinion. What's yours?