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New York Jets Flight Connections 3/29/20by MacGregor Wells on March 29, 2020 at 10:32 am
Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images Good morning, Gang Green Nation! Here’s something odd: Jets contracts are popping up on lists of best free agent bargains these days. What a refreshing change from the Maccagnan years. It’s the first step, but only the first step, towards crawling back to respectability, perhaps even to being a perennial contender. It’s an important step, to be sure, to stop handing out ridiculous contracts like candy. But just being cost effective doesn’t cut it. Now comes the more difficult part: finding the right players in the draft. Unless and until the Jets can draft well, develop their players, and retain top talent, the team will remain mired in mediocrity. April awaits. Let’s see what Joe Douglas can do to finally break the Jets out of their decade long drafting slump. Here are your links to the Jets this glorious Sunday in March: Kristian Dyer - Antonio Cromartie: New York Jets GM Joe Douglas “is doing a good job” Bill Barnwell - Best signings of 2020 NFL free agency - Barnwell’s nine top grades Seth Walder - 2020 NFL free agency - Five value signings that could be steals Rich Cimini - Breshad Perriman adds deep threat Dennis Waszak Jr. - Douglas’ offseason approach setting new tone for Jets future Justin Rochat - 2020 NFL Draft: Late-Round targets for the New York Jets Steve Serby - NFL mock draft: Meet Henry Ruggs III, New York Jets possibility Seth Everett - NFL free agency update: Jadeveon Clowney, Logan Ryan and New York Jets lose a safety Justin Fried - NY Jets: 2 free agent signings land on ESPN's best value deals list Tyler Calvaruso - 2020 NFL Free Agency: Jets’ biggest weaknesses after free agency’s first wave Sam Neumann - 2020 NFL Draft: Jets land Tristan Wirfs in Touchdown Wire’s latest mock Tyler Greenawalt - 2020 NFL Free Agency: Jets should sign Joe Flacco as Sam Darnold’s backup Spencer Aber - 2020 NFL Free Agency: Things to know about new Jets G Josh Andrews Aaron Gershon - New York Jets: The 3 best backup quarterback options Dylan Tereman - JetNation Prospect Profile: Alabama Tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. Matthew Schmidt - Jets are making life far too tough for Sam Darnold with failed offseason Hardik Sanghavi - Week 1 Free Agency Thoughts | Over the Cap Jason Fitzgerald - Looking at the Next Stage of NFL Free Agency | Over the Cap Here are your missed connections from yesterday. Here’s the thread about nothing, why not stop by and say hello? Enjoy the day everybody.
Are we starting to see NFL teams move away from three wide receiver groupings?by John B on March 28, 2020 at 3:15 pm
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images The NFL is now a league where most plays have at least three wide receivers on the field. A website called Sharp Football Stats keeps track of personnel groupings. They found that NFL offenses in 2019 ran 55% of their snaps from what is called “11” personnel. This means one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers. This makes it the league’s dominant personnel grouping. (When determining personnel groupings, the first number tells you how many running backs are on the field. The second number tells you how many tight ends. Subtract the total number of running backs and tight ends from 5, and it will tell you the number of wide receivers.) The NFL used to be a league where 21 (two running backs, one tight end, and two wide receivers) personnel was the status quo. Why did things change? There are numerous causes. As offensive thought in the NFL evolved, teams started utilizing all five eligible receivers in the passing game instead of featuring only the wide receiver. It seems rather obvious, but a third wide receiver is typically more skilled as a pass catcher than a fullback. The rise of spread offenses in college football also played a role in this. While people tend to think of spread offenses as pass happy, many in college football have smashmouth tendencies. When you have a fullback, he frequently needs to execute his block for the run game to be successful. If he misses his block, the play can end. Putting a third receiver on the field eliminates the danger of the missed block. A defender has to follow that third receiver outside of the tackle box so he is typically eliminated from a run play without a block being necessary. Fans frequently talk about running into eight man boxes, but that is largely a misnomer in today’s league. As third receiver takes one defender away from the play, dropping an extra safety down means a loaded box has seven men. That leaves the running back more room to operate. Like many college innovations, these philosophies eventually found their way into the NFL. Yet as 11 personnel dominates most of the NFL, some teams have started to move away from it. Unsurprisingly many of the most successful teams in the league are setting the new trends. Of the ten teams that used 11 personnel least frequently in 2019, seven of them made the Playoffs. That includes the top seed from the AFC, Baltimore, and the top seed from the NFC, San Francisco. It also includes the AFC runner up, Tennessee. Many of the league’s most successful teams found their own style. The 49ers had old school 21 personnel more than any team in the NFL. The Titans ran 13 personnel (one running back, three tight ends, and one wide receiver) more than any team in the league. Meanwhile the Ravens ran the highest proportion of plays with 22 personnel (two running backs, two tight ends, and one wide receiver). The prevalence of 11 personnel makes nickel the base defense for most teams. With three receivers on the field, defenses have to play three cornerbacks at a time. You might think of having seven combined linemen and linebackers as the base defense. Many media members speak as though this is true, but it is outdated thinking. If you have to play less than five defensive backs at a time, your defense is taken out of its comfort zone. This is part of the reason adding extra tight ends and/or running backs is effective. Defenses aren’t used to playing with an extra big guy. (Side note: This is part of the reason discussions about whether a team will run a 4-3 or a 3-4 when it hires a new head coach and/or defensive coordinator are largely academic. Nobody really has a “front seven” as a base defense anymore. There are only six linemen and linebackers on most plays.) But these offenses aren’t just going back to an outdated old school playbook. They have modern elements to them. Take this play where the 49ers run a modern spread formation out of traditional 21 personnel. It isn’t just about having running backs and tight ends. Running backs who have route running skills and tight ends who can threaten the seam open things up for an offense. The alignment with one running back Tevin Coleman in the slot and fullback Kyle Juszczyk out wide forces the defense to tip its hand. There is also a tight end lined in-line. This formation provides a presnap coverage identifier for the quarterback, making his life easier. Typically a running back would draw either a linebacker or safety in man coverage. When a running back lines up in the backfield, the defense can disguise who covers the back. That is not a luxury the defense has when a back is out wide. If a linebacker or safety followed Juszczyk out wide, the quarterback would know it is man coverage. He also would know presnap that Juszczyk has a favorable matchup. He might know to go there with the ball. A cornerback is across from Juszczyk, however. You generally wouldn’t see a defense waste a cornerback to cover a fullback so this is a sign there is zone coverage. Furthermore, the alignment of the defensive players tips off the type of zone coverage. This is the alignment of a Cover 3. A safety has the deep middle. The two outside corners have deep responsibilities outside, and there are zones underneath. The personnel grouping and formation have huge advantages. The quarterback can figure out where to go with the ball before it is snapped without needing to make a complex read. If he knows his tight end can get to the seam, he can go there with the ball. This is how you make an offense friendlier for your quarterback. The only player who can help is the outside corner, but Juszczyk holds him outside leaving the seam open. The Hall of Fame executive George Young was known for espousing a philosophy called the Planet Theory. The theory went that there are only a handful of players big and athletic enough to successfully play on an offensive or defensive line in the NFL. When you have the opportunity to add such a player, you need to take it. I wouldn’t go that far speaking about athletic tight ends or skilled receiving running backs, but I do think they are cost-effective additions teams should seek. These happen to be two of the most cost-effective positions in the NFL. The tenth highest paid running back in the NFL makes $6.1 million per year. The tenth highest paid tight end in the league makes $7.2 million per year. You don’t really need to restructure your team to add these players. They add to the versatility of your offense but remain cheap enough that you don’t have to go without core players. In the NFL successful teams run unique systems opponents are not equipped to handle and find useful roles for players the market does not value highly. Eventually the rest of the league catches up. At this point, it seems like the trendsetters are moving away from 11 personnel and giving themselves an advantage with skilled receiving tight ends and running backs.
Building A GGN Big Board 2020: Prospect #44by MacGregor Wells on March 28, 2020 at 1:00 pm
Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images We have the 44th prospect on the 2020 GGN Big Board. And the winner is: A.J. Terrell, Cornerback, Clemson! With Terrell taking the 44th spot, our crowd sourced Big Board now looks like this: Jeffrey Okudah, Cornerback, Ohio State Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State Joe Burrow, Quarterback, LSU Tua Tagovailoa, Quarterback, Alabama Andrew Thomas, Offensive Tackle, Georgia Isaiah Simmons, Linebacker, Clemson Jedrick Wills, Offensive Tackle, Alabama Derrick Brown, Defensive Tackle, Auburn Jerry Jeudy, Wide Receiver, Alabama CeeDee Lamb, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma Tristan Wirfs, Offensive Tackle, Iowa Mekhi Becton, Offensive Tackle, Louisville K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, LSU A.J. Epenesa, Edge, Iowa Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon Henry Ruggs III, Wide Receiver, Alabama Javon Kinlaw, Defensive Tackle, South Carolina Josh Jones, Offensive Tackle, Houston C.J. Henderson, Cornerback, Florida Grant Delpit, Safety, LSU Jordan Love, Quarterback, Utah State Kristian Fulton, Cornerback, LSU Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama Tee Higgins, Wide Receiver, Clemson Justin Jefferson, Wide Receiver, LSU Jonathan Taylor, Running Back, Wisconsin Patrick Queen, Linebacker, LSU Yetur Gross-Matos, Edge, Penn State Laviska Shenault, Wide Receiver, Colorado Trevon Diggs, Cornerback, Alabama D’Andre Swift, Running Back, Georgia Cesar Ruiz, Center, Michigan Denzel Mims, Wide Receiver, Baylor Tyler Biadasz, Center, Wisconsin Zack Baun, Edge, Wisconsin Jalen Reagor, Wide Receiver, TCU J.K. Dobbins, Running Back, Ohio State Brandon Aiyuk, Wide Receiver, Arizona State Kenneth Murray, Linebacker, Oklahoma Lloyd Cushenberry III, Center, LSU Julian Okwara, Edge, Notre Dame Jeff Gladney, Cornerback, TCU Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise State A.J. Terrell, Cornerback, Clemson ? From now until mid April I’ll be putting up a daily poll asking Gang Green Nation to vote on the best available player from a rolling list of 15 candidates. The idea here is to build a generic Big Board reflecting the community’s view of this year’s draft class regardless of the Jets’ (or any other team’s) particular needs. For example, the Jets probably do not need a QB this year, but that should not prevent you from placing a QB high on the Big Board. Each day we will close the previous day’s poll and the candidate with the most votes will be added to the GGN Big Board. In the event of a tie vote the tie will be broken by surname in alphabetical order. By the time the draft rolls around we should have enough players on our Big Board to cover two rounds of the draft. In the event I have made an egregious omission and a name you think should be on the poll is not there you can write in candidates in the comments section. If a player gets support in the comments section I’ll add him to the next day’s poll. So let’s get to it. Today we vote for the number 45 prospect on the 2020 crowd sourced GGN Big Board. Who will it be? Vote early, vote often, and let’s hear who you think are the best players in this draft.
New York Jets Flight Connections 3/28/20by MacGregor Wells on March 28, 2020 at 10:59 am
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images Good morning, Gang Green Nation! We’ve moved into the portion of the offseason when it’s all about the NFL draft. Free agent signings have slowed to a crawl, and many of those that remain unsigned may have to wait until after the draft when teams re-evaluate where their rosters stand. While the Jets have made a lot of moves to overhaul the offensive line and done relatively little to address the giant hole at wide receiver, I’m still hoping they can snag an elite tackle prospect at #11 and wait until later to address the wide receiver deficiencies. How about you? Here are your links to the Jets this glorious Saturday in March: Brian Costello - Breaking down Jets o-line makeover Brian Costello - Jets' $2 million deal with free agent Marqui Christian falls apart Kristian Dyer - Why Andrew Thomas is the right pick for the New York Jets in the NFL Draft J.P. Pelzman - New York Jets’ Offensive-Line Makeover Comes With A Hidden Risk Albert Breer - How NFL Players Are Handling Coronavirus Quarantine Bent - A deep dive into what role Greg Van Roten could have with the Jets in 2020 Randy Lange - How Free Agency Has Changed Rosters of Jets’ 13 Opponents in 2020 Manish Mehta - Jets lose out to Broncos on punter Sam Martin Manish Mehta - 5 best Jets games since 2009 to watch Kristian Dyer - Debating the New York Jets over/under win total projection (line is at 6.5 wins) Dennis Waszak Jr. - Douglas’ offseason approach setting new tone for Jets future Carson Hathaway - NY Jets: Evaluating how Joe Douglas has handled free agency Kristian Dyer - New York Jets NFL Draft profile: Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk Kristian Dyer - New York Jets NFL Draft Profile: USC tackle Austin Jackson Justin Fried - NY Jets should take a flyer on free agent cornerback Darqueze Dennard Paul A. Esden Jr. - NY Jets: Expert lists Gang Green as free agency ‘fit’ for Jadeveon Clowney Michael Henken - NY Jets: 3 ways to address the need at backup quarterback Aaron Valentino - A look at the New York Jets crowded linebacker situation Joe Tansey - Jets Rumors: Latest on Trent Williams Trade, Pierre Desir’s Contract, More Evan Desai - New York Jets: A.J. Terrell a 2nd day option to help solidify corners Will Lomas - New York Jets, Cleveland Browns headline 5 teams that may punt on the 2020 NFL Draft Seth Everett - New York Jets mock draft 1.0 Paul A. Esden Jr. - NY Jets: 2-round mock draft, Stick to Football executes bold strategy Here are your missed connections from yesterday. Here’s the thread about nothing, why not stop by and say hello? Enjoy the day everybody.
Marqui Christian won’t be joining the Jetsby John B on March 27, 2020 at 9:06 pm
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images Last weekend news broke that the Jets had agreed to terms with safety Marqui Christian. Brian Costello now reports that there were apparently complications on some of the finer details, and Christian will not join the team as a result. The Jets could not agree to final contract terms with free agent safety Marqui Christan and are moving on, per source. #nyj— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) March 27, 2020 This isn’t exactly like losing Anthony Barr a year ago. Christian is a safety, and the Jets are set with starters at that position. Christian might have brought more value as a special teamer where he played extensively with the Rams. The Jets will have to look elsewhere, though.