The New York Jets since Rex Ryan took over as head coach have been consistently one of the better defenses in the league. So good in fact that they’ve managed to get to two AFC Championship games with Mark Sanchez at quarterback and are off to a surprising 3-3 start this year with rookie Geno Smith at the helm.
A part of the reason the Jets defenses have been so successful is Rex Ryan’s ability to design overload pressure schemes where the Jets are able to manufacture disruption only rushing four players. The Jets will run what Jon Gruden describes as an “amoeba” front, meaning it is not a static alignment like you may see with a traditional 4-3/3-4 nickel or dime front. The Jets will align in different positions and move constantly pre-snap in an attempt to confuse the opposing offensive lineman. Once the ball has been snapped, the Jets front will slant and twist to create and win their one on one matchups.
The first example is from week 3 vs the Buffalo Bills. The Jets are only rushing with 4, even though they’re showing more pressure at the line of scrimmage. It’s an overload blitz to the offense’s right with the left defensive end slanting into the B gap and middle linebacker twisting around into the C gap.
Despite the Jets only rushing 4 and the Bills having 6 to protect (5 OL + RB), the confusion up front for Buffalo leads to middle linebacker David Harris getting a free run at the QB.
The result is a 4th down sack and turnover on downs where the Bills had the numbers advantage with their protection scheme. The reality though, is that it was really 4 vs 4 because with the overload pressure the Bills left tackle & left guard were rendered useless as they have nobody to block.
The next overload pressure is from the Monday Night game vs the Falcons in week 5. It is another overload pressure to the offense’s right with similar line slants.
Once again the Jets are only bringing 4 and this time Atlanta has 7 in their protection scheme. 5 lineman, a running back and a wide receiver tight to the formation who chips the edge rusher before releasing into his route are what the Falcons have allocated for pass protection. Yet once again you see another bust in protection with the overload blitz as David Harris blows by the right tackle and has to be picked up by the running back.
The center and left guard are left with no one to block, negating the numbers advantage the Falcons believed they had. What you see is a lot of one on one matchups, like Sheldon Richardson versus the right guard #75. The guard is no match for Richardson who easily wins with a bull rush, ending up with the 3rd down sack. Richardson was lined up over the right tackle pre-snap and slanted hard to the inside.
Designer pressure schemes are nothing new to the Ryan family. With Buddy Ryan being the architect of the “46 Defense” Rex is just carrying on the tradition, albeit in a different way, of getting after the QB.