Partly because this is Christmas week and partly because this is a 4-10 team, Decoding Linehan and the Marinelli Report may be slightly shorter this week. Actually, given the periodic complaints about the overall length of a "normal" version, some may actually find this appealing. Either way, here we go.
I thought the highlight of the entire event was the professional debut of the above-pictured Kellen Moore. Now, he was approximately 5 miles from perfect, for sure. But, there were some things that greatly appealed to me.
Let's put it this way. There is an easy way to discard QB prospects in the NFL. Usually, you don't see it in the preseason, but when they get in the regular season, those teams that love to blitz can make a real solid QB look pedestrian with just a few well-timed blitzes. He has never seen anything like it in college (or especially in high school) and it brings him to his knees. The blitz can make Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden look awful. So, imagine what they do to someone even further down the food chain.
But, Kellen Moore is known for his brain power. He is a smart QB who does his homework and has been trained as the son of a coach to see the game at a higher level. It doesn't always transfer from the film room to the field, but with Moore, he seems to see the game at a pretty wise level.
On Saturday night, Moore made some mistakes. In fact, on his 2nd throw, a blitz caused him to do something he wishes he didn't. But, from there on out, the Jets blitzed him relentlessly, and all things considered, I thought he handled it very, very well.
Fire zone from his left and Moore stands in and waits for Williams to come open across the middle and delivers a toss right in stride and into space. The key is that this is after his horrible interception on his first drive and still, he keeps his eye level up and stays composed. He is not spooked or thrown off his task. This is nice.
7-man blitz! Wow! He knows he doesn't have enough protection. Yet, he knows right where to go and delivers the ball right on time allowing Dez to turn and run it in for a nice Cover 0 burning. This is very impressive and made to look easy. Trust me, the guys playing QB all season are not doing this.
This is his mistake. 5-man pressure and he treats it like it is 6 or 7. The point there is if you have 6 or 7 coming at you, you can know that there is no back-side safety. He miscounted and lost track of the 11th man. You expect this of a rookie, but this is the one time he was wrong in his read and thought Dez was open and this was too easy. Then, he realized he stepped in a trap. Still, look at his eyes and his feet. Calm, cool, and sure of himself. A correctable mistake, but I love the poise.
Here is a throw against a normal rush, but again, I just love how he scans the field and then delivers a perfect throw. This should have been at least a 3rd down conversion if not a touchdown. This is strong QB play here.
One more. Another 4 man rush, but this is 4th and 2. Look at his patience and look at the strike he delivers. He trusts his protection and then puts it right on Beasley to extend the game and get them in field goal range. This is a beautiful throw.
Again, all of the best throws are to the inside and he made several mistakes, but this is at the very least putting him in a spot where we want to see more against Buffalo. I was quite pleased with his play on Saturday all things considered. It is possible that he is not up to par in the NFL and I am just used to seeing substandard QB play this season, but he seems to have certain attributes I am looking for in a QB.
WEEKLY DATA - WK 15 - JETS
As we look at the weekly numbers, we are seeing some of the things that have really haunted this thing down the stretch. Clearly, for yet another week, they are unable to move the chains with even the slightest bit of acceptable success.
So, now you see the 3 things that continue to destroy this thing. No 3rd down efficiency, no red zone efficiency, and 4 Giveaways.
Yet, again, through all of that nonsense, they actually had a real opportunity to win this game.
Also, note the 5 yards per pass attempt. We did not separate the Cassel/Moore numbers, but let's just say that the Cassel camp appreciates us not doing that.
KELLEN MOORE THROW CHART
As you can see here, the debate about Moore and his arm strength and what part of the field he uses can be seen here. I want to wait a week or two, but this does match the eyeball test. He is going to be a guy using the underneath stuff primarily. Now, that is ok if you can throw guys open, anticipate windows, and excel with accuracy.
He has a chance, but it won't be with a big gun and velocity. And, sometimes, that can work for a backup QB. Over 15 yards down field: 0-4 with 2 interceptions.
PERSONNEL GROUPS - WK 15 - JETS
This will show again that the Cowboys actually did run the ball pretty well when you sprinkle in the 2 different 33 yard runs. Both of them came off some use of Lucky Whitehead with a successful end around and then a fake end around with a naked pitch to McFadden.
Also, look at how they were in a predictable rut with run/pass as it pertains to under center and shotgun. They were in shotgun 29 times and ran the ball once - and that was a Moore scramble. So, 100% of the time they passed. Then, under center, they snapped 25 plays and ran it 19 of those 25 times (76%). So, overall, 89% of the time, they ran from under center and passed from shotgun. The other 6 times were almost all variations of play-action passes. You could say they are really selling the ambush of play-action, but you could also say they are really easy to defend when they do this. By the way, almost all of the play-action was with Cassel (5 times).
JETS PASS RUSHERS
The Jets brought some big blitzes as they like to do and really increased it even more when they saw the new guy. Their overall blitz percentage wasn't that crazy, but when they go big, they love to go Cover 0 behind it which some teams will never do. The Jets cranked up the 7 man blitz a few times and that is rare in today's game.
SEASON BLITZ PERCENTAGE
Again, overall, with no Romo, teams have decided to get that blitz number high over 30% on a regular basis. Of course, the schedule has also lined up teams that really enjoy blitzing over the last several weeks, too.
SEASON RUSHERS BY DOWN
With 4 different QBs, this data is clearly difficult to decode, but just so that you can see the big picture, here is how it looks by down. If you are a QB, you are not seeing blitzes on 1st down 81% of the time, 76% on 2nd, 65% on 3rd. That is why we want to stay out of 3rd downs.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Honestly, there is very little we can summarize with all of this QB chaos. Basically, the disaster of 2015 goes something like this: The Dallas Cowboys hold the incredibly dubious distinction of a really bad football team in this fashion - they lead the NFC in most giveaways (27 times they have given the opposition the football via interception or fumble - although they are tied with Philadelphia and Atlanta). In fairness to the Eagles, their 27 giveaways have been with a faster tempo. Sorry, couldn't resist that. Also, the Cowboys lead the NFC in least takeaways with just 9.
That means simply this, they have a giveaway/takeaway number of "-18" that is 32nd out of 32 teams. They have been a very poor team fundamentally and they cannot take care of the football, nor can they take the ball back. This has been an issue throughout and in the interest of fairness (and we cannot count Kellen Moore yet), the QB with the highest interception % is actually Tony Romo. Even when he was healthy, he was not very good this year. That is why there are so many people running around with Brandon Weeden foam fingers. Because, at least he didn't throw interceptions! Which we all could see when he played, he was committed to 5 yard passes to his running backs which seldom move the chains, but at least he didn't throw any to the other team.
If you ask me, they have had awful QB play from all of them this year, and we are really just debating shades of gray. Which, some still have the energy to do. I surrendered to those people (OK State graduates?) yesterday with this tweet:
Regardless, on Thursday in Xs and Os, I will look at a few running plays, but I have made this issue pretty much all about the short QB from Boise State because A) it is enjoyable to watch him play (admittedly, by default) and B) it avoids us from having to discuss this offense from a broader 2015 perspective.
This has been a difficult year from every perspective offensively and this is a team that hasn't had a 400-yard offensive day since November 8th, a 6-yards-per-play day since October 25th, hasn't scored more than 20 points since November 22nd, and hasn't scored over 28 points all year.
In other words, you have almost made the finish line. Happy Holidays!