New York Jets: Todd Bowles' Gameplan Against Chiefs Was Deplorable
Denny Medley, USATSI

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was terrible at Arrowhead. Equally terrible was Todd Bowles‘ gameplan he put together for his New York Jets.

It’s Todd Bowles‘s second season as a head coach in the National Football League. Therefore, there should be a little wiggle room as it relates to the man learning on the job and making a mistake on occasion.

Right?

No.

This is the NFL, the league Jerry Glanville so poignantly dubbed the “Not For Long” league.

It is completely unacceptable to get out coached from head-to-toe on Sundays and that’s exactly what happened to Super Bowles when he went up against Andy Reid.

Reid, Alex Smith and that tremendous secondary led by Eric Berry and Marcus Peters destroyed Bowles and the New York Jets (24-3). Despite hanging in the game by two possessions late, there was never a sense New York could pull off a miracle.

Offense:

Ryan Fitzpatrick was beyond awful. While the box score reads six interceptions thrown, that number alone doesn’t do his performance justice. Throws were wild and Fitz, known for usually reading defenses pre-snap to a solid degree, never seemed comfortable going through his progressions.

Every throw seemed predetermined from the line of scrimmage. While on many occasions Chan Gailey’s offense will showcase that methodology, it simply does not work against terrific defenses. Bob Sutton’s defense is legit. They have, perhaps, the best secondary in the league.

Even still, the talent wearing red doesn’t include a six interception day (two critical times in the red-zone). It also doesn’t wash away a head-scratching day from Gailey.

Where was the work underneath and over the middle? Fitz continued to force the ball to Brandon Marshall along the sideline when the opportunity presented itself in a one-on-one. That simply wasn’t a great option with B-Marsh hobbled.

Where Fitz does his damage is pre-snap, not during the play. He usually takes what the defense gives him. On this day, however, Sutton disguised his pre-snap reads wonderfully. It led to a few interceptions that Fitzpatrick didn’t see coming.

One almost interception came by way of Berry disguising his look pre-snap:

Fitz thought he had a standard three-on-three to the wide side of the field. Berry, instead of staying in the middle, slid to his right right before the snap. He probably did this knowing that the only weapon on the right side, Kellen Davis, is absolutely no threat in the passing game.

Bowles needed to adjust. He needed to get Gailey and Fitz to recognize what was going on.

Instead of Fitzpatrick continuing to look at what the defense was giving him, a few crossing routes over the middle to play to the QB’s strength could have sparked things. Instead of stubbornly running the ball between the 20s, how about a surprise run inside the 10 instead of looking to force a short pass on a soft playing K.C. defense?

Defense:

Defensively, and especially in the secondary (the area Bowles prides himself most), wasn’t any better.

New York is now showcasing a strange defensive front. It’s four-man look with four interior defensive linemen all on the field at the same time. This hurts the speed on the edge. It also hurts Jordan Jenkins’s ability when asked to play a 4-3 outside linebacker.

What the Jets love to do is play man. They love to ask Darrelle Revis, Buster Skrine and Marcus Williams to face up and play their guy to safety help. The only problem with this is that pressure must get to the QB. On Sunday, Alex Smith was sacked just twice. In fact, the man who’s known for blitzing (Bowles), didn’t send much pressure at all.

Tight end Travis Kelce tormented New York for 89 yards and a TD on six grabs, most of which came in the first half. Calvin Pryor, Darron Lee and David Harris (who can’t cover anybody) all failed miserably.

Take a look at this play in the second quarter that led to a field goal. Pryor was matched up on Kelce in a one-on-one situation:

On one of the rare heavy blitzes of the game, the defense wound up in a Cover 1 with Marcus Gilchrist over-the-top. But how in the world is Pryor playing so far off Kelce in this situation? Does he not understand this is A.Smith and Reid? They’re both notorious for running a semblance of a West Coast offense that severely plays to the underneath passing game.

When a blitz like that is on, Kelce needs to be jammed up and trailed. The pressure needs to be put on Smith to wait longer before he can throw it. Or, challenge him to throw deep.

Pryor simply didn’t play to the situation there. This was a constant deal all day from every member of the secondary.

Furthermore, there wasn’t enough zone incorporated into the day. What’s worse is that a QB who rarely challenges the defense deep (A.Smith) was routinely witnessing Revis and Skrine lining up 10 yards off their first read.

Final Thoughts:

Bowles is a solid defensive mind. He’s made his rounds as a defensive coordinator, most recently taking extraordinary talent in Arizona and helping it flourish.

Rex Ryan is a guy who has his ways. As seen in Week 2, Ryan will blitz and continue his pressure looks despite his talent. Bowles isn’t like that. While he loves sending pressure, he does coach to his personnel.

The only problem, so far, is that his conservative nature as a coach plays more to the 1980s than the year 2016. Take the end of the first half for example. Granted, the first half was a disaster and heading to the locker room only down 17-3 was, all things considered, an alright deal. But how does Bowles not call timeout and force the Chiefs to punt the ball away?

Even if you decide to not put Jalin Marshall back there, at least force the Chiefs to execute a punt. Go for a block. Look to do something to spark the squad.

On the last play of the half, Smith was sacked. The two plays prior to that were deep shots Smith took. One was one-on-one coverage against Juston Burris when Darrelle Revis was sidelined (eye).

First off, how in the world did Smith have two one-on-one chances with such little time left in the half? Where are the two deep looks?

More importantly, though, in that situation, K.C. took their shots with very little to lose and the Jets played scared and ran to the locker room. In this league, with defending the pass at an all time high difficulty level, head coaches must have an aggressive mindset.

How about halftime adjustments? There were none on either side of the ball. This is something Bowles has yet to figure out.

Another disturbing trend has been Bowles’s sideline/clock management. Late in the 3rd-quarter, it looked as if B-Marsh hauled in a beauty of a score:

Where was the challenge? There’s no bigger advocate for saving all three timeouts in the second half than me. In this situation, though, unless Marshall knew he bobbled it on the other side of the camera, a challenge was certainly in order. Perhaps Marshall didn’t think he got his first foot down.

Challenge or not, nobody should kick the guy out of the city after a 1-2 start. At the same time, please don’t pretend he’s something he’s not. Todd Bowles is a guy who won 10 games against an all-time cupcake schedule a season ago.

Until he fully embraces the aggressive nature of this league and figures out how his defense can cover somebody, these Jets aren’t headed anywhere in 2016.

For the ex-safety, that has to be a bitter pill to swallow.

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