The Jets’ offense is going through a metamorphosis. Gone are the days of the Eastern style of pounding the football, and in is the West Coast offense under the direction of Marty Mornhinweg. We have talked about how the West Coast offense works, in terms of being based on a horizontal passing game, and quick decisions.
We can talk in generalities about the characteristics of the WCO, but why not go deeper? Why not take a look at how Marty Mornhinweg calls a game? Are there any trends that we can look at, that may translate into the upcoming season, and hopefully years to come?
To analyze, I went back to two games in 2012, a win (week 1), and a loss (week 8). Let’s look at these games and see if the numbers tell us anything.
First we look at play distribution. In both of these games, the emphasis was on the pass. In week 1, Marty called 58 pass plays against only 30 rushing plays. In the week 8 loss to Atlanta, Marty ran 38 passing plays against only 24 rushes. This is all very typical of a West Coast offense, as it is always built on the short passes setting up the run.
Look at the average gain per pass play as well. In the week one win, the Eagles averaged 5.3 yards gained per pass play. In the week eight loss, the Eagles averaged a gain of 4.7 yards per pass play. This tells us, as expected, that there are a lot of 3 step drops happening here, with quick decisions. Little slants, in-cuts, screen passes, etc., are always going to be prevalent here. The passing game is based horizontally, not vertically, which is what keeps the average down.
Now you go to the play by play and look at trends. In the week one win, every drive except for three began with passing plays. All of those passes except for one went for over 10 yards. Same idea in the game from week 8 against the Falcons. All drives but two went for passes, and the completed passes to open a drive went for no longer than 12 yards. This is classic West Coast offense. Bill Walsh would be proud.
And screen passes? Always, there are screen passes. In week one, I counted 10 targets to running backs in the short passing game. In the week 8 matchup against the Falcons, there were only 2 short passes thrown to running backs, but the lead sustained in double digits for most of this game, so there was a mitigating factor that kept the passing game away from the running backs, but that doesn’t change the fact that Marty is fond of using the backs out of the backfield. He once had a fullback with 60 receptions in one year, which tells you all you need to know about the philosophy.
Some takeaways as far as the Jets are concerned? Well for one thing, be ready to see an offense that looks like nothing we have seen in the past with these guys. The days of 1st and 10, run, second and 7, run, and third and 5, pass, are over. The Jets are going to pass early on in their series, and will spread the ball around.
Another obvious point is that the passing game will consist solely of 3 and 5 step drops at the most. No longer are we going to see deep drops with Mark or Geno getting a long time to think about what they are doing. Instead, we will see quick drops, and quick decisions, not giving the quarterback too much time to out think themselves.
Finally, Chris Ivory and company had better have their hands ready. We see in these games that Marty uses the running back a lot in the passing game, and overall, we see that the running back is always near the top of the team in receptions. They are going to be active this fall, no doubt about that.
Bottom line is that the new Jets’ offense is not even going to resemble the offense of the past. Is this a good thing? Absolutely, AM I RIGHT?