Todd Bowles Robby Anderson
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Jets and Todd Bowles earned much-deserved credit for their overall aggressive gameplan and execution against the Denver Broncos.

Robby Sabo

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY—According to the head coach of the New York Jets, his team simply “executed” in their stunning 34-16 throttling of the Denver Broncos this past Sunday. For anybody familiar with the words of the Jets sideline boss, “executing” while maintaining a cool, calm demeanor is the regular name of the game.

But while Todd Bowles won’t admit it aloud, he knows. He understands. He feels it within his football-loving soul.

His team was aggressive on Sunday.

We chronicled the offense’s conservative handicap a few weeks ago. It was as clear as day in Cleveland. Sam Darnold doesn’t hold much pre-snap audible power, leading to an overwhelming number or rushes into loaded boxes and 3rd-and-longs into two-deep. Offensive success—other than the players’ play on the field—would often come down to Jeremy Bates attempting to out-wit the defensive coordinator.

It wasn’t happening. Defenses would simply crowd the line of scrimmage. They’d shut down the run while literally daring Darnold to go over-the-top.

On Sunday, finally, over-the-top happened in the form of Robby Anderson.

After Isaiah Crowell’s 77-yard burst tied the game at seven all, the Broncos continued with an extra man in the box. Darnold finally made an NFL defense pay for playing single-high too often.

On the first Anderson score, the Broncos literally insulted the Jets with a single-high look on 3rd-and-9. In addition, the free safety literally chose the two-wideout side prior to the snap.

Darnold didn’t even have to look off the safety prior to letting it go for Anderson on the nine.

This wasn’t happening at all prior to Week 5. In fact, Darnold hasn’t even attempted to hit Anderson on a go-route since his touchdown in Detroit during Week 1 (against a straight Cover 2).

It’s not about listening to the fans blindly blurt out “throw the ball downfield.” It’s about taking what the defense gives you. It’s about stretching the field to set up the run. Even attempting a 50-yarder that falls incomplete serves a purpose in this league.

Prior to Denver, Bates substituted those shots with too many wide receiver screens and quick-designed three-step drops.

On Anderson’s second TD grab of the day, the Jets decided to strike early, on first down. This early-down shot is what makes the aggressive Jets so noticeable against the Broncos.

It’s a clear shot play. Max protect with just a three-man route, Bates dialed up a two-deep shot on both sides against single-high coverage with just one short outlet (flat to the right).

Look at the coverage when Darnold lets the ball go. Anderson isn’t even open yet Darnold is in rhythm and takes the shot. This is how offenses keep defenses off-balanced in the NFL—stretch it out with completions and incompletions when facing aggressive looks.

Sure, the two Robby Anderson long touchdowns are nice. Each does a tremendous job in showcasing offensive aggression. But the next play literally shakes the entire foundation of what Todd Bowles usually is.

Bowles, the defensive-minded man who simply doesn’t want the offense to screw up while relying on his defense, allowed his offensive coordinator to carry out an unheard of play call.

With 11-and-change remaining in regulation up 14 points, the Jets were in the red zone facing a tough 3rd-and-goal. Seventeen is the magic number here. Sixteen wouldn’t matter so much, but 17 does. It’s the mark that makes the contest a three-possession game.

Therefore, the entire living, breathing football world expected a third consecutive run just prior to the field goal unit trotting on the field to extend the lead to 17.

Amazingly, the Jets dialed up a passing play.

The call was simply jaw-dropping for the usually ultra-conservative Bowles and, in fact, was actually a terrible decision considering every circumstance.

Still, how could anybody in his/her right mind get mad at the guy for this aggressive move?

The wild-card lost in all of this is that the Jets completely dominated the game on the ground. Rushing for 323 yards on 38 carries, Bowles and Bates weren’t put in tough enough situations to appropriately gauge the overall aggressiveness. In tight spots when rushing comes tough, it’s not as easy to play it risky. Seeing what the strategy is when Crowell isn’t breaking off 200-yard contests will serve as the true test.

For now, Todd Bowles deserves much credit. The New York Jets finally and appropriately played it aggressively.

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