Which linemen shined brightest in NY Jets OL’s clinic vs. Bills?

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By: Michael Nania

NY Jets OL looked surprisingly good in Week 9 win

The New York Jets‘ offensive line was excellent in the team’s 20-17 win over the Buffalo Bills. It led the Jets’ offense to 174 rushing yards while helping limit Zach Wilson to being pressured on just 21.4% of his dropbacks, ranking fourth-lowest among qualified quarterbacks in Week 9.

Who were the stars of the show? Let’s watch the film to find out.

Film review of the New York Jets’ offensive line vs. Buffalo Bills

One thing you’ll notice throughout this game is that the Jets ran a lot more power/gap concepts than usual, straying away from their typical zone-heavy approach. It was an effective strategy as the Jets had a lot of success with these runs.

Here, the Jets pull Laken Tomlinson and C.J. Uzomah from left-to-right. They each hit their blocks while Nate Herbig creates plenty of movement on his down block to the inside. Michael Carter uses the hole created by Tomlinson, Uzomah, and Herbig to get 7 yards. Cedric Ogbuehi climbs and gets a nice block on the linebacker, too. Connor McGovern allows his man to shed him and make the tackle, preventing this run from going further.

Carter picks up a huge gain on a toss play thanks to Denzel Mims and Duane Brown. Mims crack-blocks Von Miller to pin him inside. Brown pulls outside and gets his hips turned to pin another defender inside. These blocks create a one-on-one for Carter, which he wins. Give credit to Ogbuehi for getting down the field and leading Carter to some extra yards at the end.

Nice work by the Jets against a five-man rush. Brown and Tomlinson handle their one-on-ones. Herbig and Ogbuehi successfully block a stunt – Herbig does a great job of passing his man off and then coming back to pick up the looping defender, while Ogbuehi does a great job of picking up the penetrating defender when Herbig passes him off.

Watch Carter’s eyes pre-snap. Before the ball is even snapped, Carter sees the safety creeping down and knows that he needs to get over there and pick him up. Carter gets across the formation and cuts down the blitzer.

Trouble may have occurred if this play lasted any longer, as a sixth rusher comes in. The linebacker “green dogs”, which means he is assigned to the running back and will blitz if the running back stays in to protect. The Jets probably would not have been able to account for him. Nevertheless, they brilliantly executed their initial assignments on this play, helping to tee up a big completion from Wilson to Wilson.

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To balance things out, I also included some negative plays in here. This 1-yard run by James Robinson on first-and-10 is one of them.

This zone run mostly fails because of Tomlinson. On the front side of the play, Tomlinson allows his man to beat him inside. That forces Robinson to cut the run back intro traffic on the back side. If Tomlinson had kept his man on his outside shoulder, Robinson would have had a nice hole between Tomlinson and McGovern.

Robinson gets stuffed on third-and-1, bringing up fourth down.

The main culprit here is Brown, who allows the 5-technique defensive end to beat him across his face and penetrate inside through the B-gap. McGovern is also at fault for allowing the 1-technique defensive tackle to get across his face and penetrate the A-gap.

With Brown and McGovern allowing the middle to be congested, Robinson is forced to bounce outside directly into an unblocked safety.

On a screen pass to Carter, McGovern makes a big play. McGovern gets out in space and blasts the pursuing linebacker just before he gets to Carter, freeing up room for Carter to gain 10 yards. Look at the speed from McGovern as he gets out there. This is an excellent glimpse into his upper-echelon athleticism for the center position.

With a better rep from Tomlinson, this play might have had touchdown potential. Tomlinson stumbles as he begins getting out in space. Then, once he gets in space and starts angling toward the linebacker, Tomlinson hesitates just before he reaches the 15-yard line. He ultimately misses his block and allows the tackle.

Carter scores a walk-in touchdown from 6 yards out. The main road-graders are McGovern, Herbig, and Ogbuehi.

McGovern creates tremendous lateral movement on the defender to his left. Herbig chips the defender to his right to help Ogbuehi pick him up. Then, Herbig climbs and drives the safety into the end zone. Ogbuehi uses Herbig’s help to get across his defender’s face, flip his hips outside, and seal him out of the lane, throwing him onto the turf in the process.

Also, give credit to Zach Wilson for his execution of this handoff to Carter on what appears to be an option play. At the mesh point (the point where the QB and RB meet on a handoff), Wilson really sells to Miller that he might keep the ball, which freezes Miller and prevents him from making a play on the RB.

The offensive line creates a big throwing lane for Wilson here. Brown drives his man outside while Tomlinson drives his man outside, opening space in the perfect spot for Zach to connect with Garrett Wilson. Zach takes advantage of the pristine pocket and delivers a great throw.

I included this play to highlight Herbig. Watch the recognition he shows on this play. Herbig is initially working a double-team with McGovern, but in his peripheral vision, he sees Ogbuehi getting beat inside (Von Miller is still deadly with that signature spin move). Herbig instinctively gets off the double-team and works outside to chip Miller, slowing him down just enough to save Wilson from getting hit.

The Jets quick-snap the ball on third-and-2 to avoid a possible review on the near-interception seen in the previous clip. Carter is unable to pick up the first down as the Jets again fail to adequately block a short-yardage third down.

This one is mostly on Tomlinson. He gets tossed aside by No. 97, leaving nowhere for Carter to go.

This is awesome protection against a four-man rush. Ty Johnson widens out Miller to buy Ogbuehi plenty of time. Herbig goes one-on-one and holds his man at bay. On the edge, Brown pushes his man past the quarterback.

The highlight of the play belongs to McGovern. He ranges to his left and destroys Tomlinson’s man, sending him flying. This block by McGovern is what opens up the enormous running lane Wilson eventually uses. If McGovern does not throw such a powerful block, Wilson probably doesn’t get this first down.

Additionally, it looked like Tomlinson may have been on the verge of getting worked back into Wilson’s lap. McGovern probably bailed him out from allowing pressure.

Coming into this game, it seemed inevitable that the Jets would eventually pay the price for having Cedric Ogbuehi against Von Miller, and it finally happened on this third-quarter play.

While it does take a relatively long amount of time for Miller to get to Wilson on this play, it’s no thanks to Ogbuehi. Miller just happened to take his time getting into this rush since he is anticipating a quick throw and wants to play the passing lane. Once Miller does engage, he easily swats away Ogbuehi’s punch and then rips around the corner for the win. Miller pursues the scrambling Wilson and catches him from behind, knocking the ball loose in the process.

Wilson gets credit for the TD pass and Robinson gets credit for the TD catch, but it’s Herbig who really deserves the most praise for creating this score.

Herbig gets out in space and takes a fantastic angle on the slot corner as he pursues the block. He does a great job of reading the defender’s movements to anticipate where on the field he should aim to make contact with him. Open-field blocking is all about anticipation, and here, Herbig anticipates the correct landmark to shoot for.

This pristine angle allows Herbig to take complete control once he engages. Herbig gets his hands into the defender’s chest and plows him more than five yards downfield to create ample room for Robinson.

Tomlinson blows another open-field block as he allows the safety to get a hit on Robinson. He’s lucky that Herbig did such good work and that Robinson had the power to get through that tackle attempt.

We’ve got nine plays remaining in this film review, and they are the first nine plays from the Jets’ gritty 12-play, 86-yard drive to take the lead near the end of the fourth quarter. The first eight of those were run plays. Let’s see how the Jets were able to pound the ball down Buffalo’s throats to win the game.

To start off, watch Uzomah, Tomlinson, and Ogbuehi. Uzomah and Tomlinson pull across the formation and land good blocks. Ogbuehi throws an excellent block as he tosses his man inside. There’s a hole there between Ogbuehi and Uzomah, so Robinson goes for it.

Robinson seems to misread the flow of the blocks as he runs right into Uzomah’s back. Fortunately, it turns out to be a blessing in disguise. Herbig had allowed his man to shed him and get into the running lane, but due to Robinson’s awkward collision with Uzomah, Herbig’s man over-pursues Robinson and misses the tackle.

Robinson shows excellent contact balance as he stays afoot after hitting into Uzomah. He gets his hips turned vertically, ducks his head to avoid the tackle attempt, and starts chugging straight downhill. It’s a 9-yard gain to open the drive on what very well could have been a no-gainer. This tough run by Robinson set the tone for the entire drive.

The Jets essentially run the same play with Uzomah and Tomlinson pulling from left to right, and it works again.

Ogbuehi is the primary contributor here. He sets up Herbig in a great position with a strong chip and then climbs to block the linebacker, sealing him outside.

Tomlinson seals Miller on the edge. Uzomah leads Robinson through the B-gap, chipping the inside defenders to keep the running lane clear. Robinson gets 7 yards on second-and-1.

How about three times in a row? The Jets hit Buffalo with the same play once again.

Stellar work from Brown and McGovern here. Brown keeps the edge defender sealed outside. McGovern ranges left and manages to pin the 4i-technique defensive tackle to the inside, which is really hard to accomplish for a center. The 4i does help him out by moving inside on his own, as he reacts to the pullers and anticipates a run to the front-side (like on the previous two plays), but McGovern takes full advantage as he gets hands-on, flips his hips inside, and pins the defender inside.

Good vision from Robinson. He sees a ton of traffic on the front side, as the Bills’ defenders aggressively play the front-side run after seeing it on each of the previous two plays out of the same concept. In his peripheral vision, Robinson can see the back-side hole opened up by Brown and McGovern. Robinson makes one cut and explodes through it.

After running three straight power plays with Robinson, the Jets put Carter on the field and run some inside zone.

Mims makes this one happen.

First, Mims chips the edge defender to help Brown him pick up. This is huge – if Mims does not make that chip, that defender is easily beating Carter to the edge and shutting the run down.

Then, Mims climbs and dominates the defensive back. He eventually gets shed and lets his man make the tackle, but not before creating an incredible amount of vertical movement.

Carter does the rest as he outruns two defenders on the edge. In addition to Carter’s speed, watch the work he does with his off-ball hand. He uses it to keep himself clean and minimize the contact of the pursuing defenders.

More inside zone action for Carter. Mims and McGovern maintain strong second-level blocks here, but other than that, this is just a nifty play from Carter as he bounces around and navigates the traffic. Tomlinson and Herbig are pushed into the backfield while Ogbuehi allows Miller to get inside. Carter finds a way to get 4 yards on first-and-5 (there was an encroachment penalty prior to this).

Back to the power game, but this time with Carter on the field instead of Robinson.

Look at Tyler Conklin, Brown, and Herbig. Conklin comes inside and stonewalls the linebacker. Brown throws an excellent down block as he plows the defensive tackle across the line. Finally, Herbig pulls across the formation and seals the edge defender. Carter runs between Herbig and Conklin to reach the second level.

Up there, we once again see Mims dominating his man. Carter runs past Mims’s block and evades a diving tackler to gain plenty of extra yards. Then he puts his head down and churns forward for as much as he can get.

This one is actually blocked quite well (Brown and Tomlinson working inside with Herbig and Uzomah pulling), but at this point, the Bills finally started to sit hard on the run. Robinson gets only 3 yards on first down as Buffalo has more defenders in the box than the Jets have blockers (8 on 7). Still, 3 yards really isn’t that bad considering the disadvantage.

The Jets may have gone one play too far with the run game at this point. Buffalo once again has an 8-on-7 advantage in the box. The front side of the play quickly gets muddied and Robinson is only able to gain 2 yards, setting up third-and-5.

The Jets’ offensive line gives Wilson a clean pocket to hit Mims on this crucial third-and-5 play. It’s a quick release, so this isn’t the most amazing pass-blocking rep in world history, but nevertheless, the job gets done.

The linemen know this is a quick concept with a short drop, so they engage aggressively to get immediate contact, rather than sitting back and risking getting bulled into the quarterback.

Herbig does good work in a one-on-one. McGovern helps Tomlinson. Ogbuehi moves Miller out of the passing lane.

The Jets’ offensive line is fighting through adversity

This was an admirable performance by New York’s offensive front. Battered by injuries, the Jets’ offensive linemen found a way to band together and produce good results. Give credit to offensive line coach John Benton.

The offensive linemen themselves obviously deserve praise for this performance, but I like how Mike LaFleur helped them out.

New York’s quick-release passing game took pressure off the linemen to pass-protect for long durations, masking some of the woes that could have popped up if Zach Wilson held the ball longer.

In addition, I like that LaFleur integrated more gap/power concepts into the run game. It’s clearly a good fit for some of the new players on this line.

Credit is also due to some of the skill-position blockers, specifically Denzel Mims and C.J. Uzomah. They were outstanding in this game as blockers.

The Jets are going to win a lot of football games if their offensive front continues to block as well as it did against Buffalo.

Next Article: Grading every Zach Wilson throw vs. Buffalo Bills 

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