The offensive line had some good success Sunday against a formidable Bengals front. They paved the way for the running backs to rack up 137 rushing yards and also contributed by getting out in front of a few screen passes. In addition, the pass protection was good, with the Bengals picking up just one coverage sack.
In the running game, the Jets had some success with zone blocking concepts. On the play shown below, the line moves in unison to the right and James Carpenter uses his man's momentum to drive him upfield and create a cutback lane for the run back up the middle. Ryan Clady also contributes by making a cut block at the second level.
Carpenter has said moving to the Jets was good for him because he can do more man/power blocking than he was able to in Seattle's zone-heavy scheme. However, he had success with plays like this on a number of occasions, proving that he is still capable of handling those zone concepts well too. Overall, he did a good job of opening up running lanes, although he was bull-rushed back into the quarterback once in pass protection.
Clady's first game as a Jet went about as well as could be expected. He gave up a pressure on a play where Carlos Dunlap lined up on his side and gained leverage with a spin move before driving him back into the quarterback. Otherwise, he just about managed to hold up and prevent the pocket from collapsing on his side. As well as making some good second level run-blocks, he set the edge well by driving his man to the inside on one play.
However, he did get beaten inside for a stop in the backfield. Nick Mangold blocked effectively, as you'd expect, but wasted two plays with bad snaps. He only let his man into the backfield once in pass protection and did an excellent job of moving his man out of the middle consistently in the running game. He also got out in front of a screen pass nicely.
To his credit, Brian Winters held his own one-on-one with Geno Atkins on a few plays. While still susceptible to the bull-rush in pass protection, he made some good contributions in the running and screen game, but there were still issues with sustaining blocks and he was called for a holding penalty on one play.
At right tackle, Ben Ijalana and Brent Qvale had a rough first game, as each was benched several times. I'm just kidding; it was actually just a rotation hey were employing. That seemed to work well, as both held up pretty well and avoided any major mistakes, although they had help on that side at times.
Qvale stayed in front of his man well on the edge in pass protection, but there were a couple of plays where he failed to pick up a blitzer, leading to a quarterback hit on one play and pressure that ultimately led to a sack on the other.
There was also a play where he let his man drive him back, which didn't generate pressure but disrupted the passing lane and forced the quarterback to delay on a quick throw to the flat in the red zone. Had that been released on time, it could have been a potential touchdown. In the running game, he fared well on kick-out blocks, especially in the second half, but had mixed results otherwise.
Ijalana allowed his man to beat him around the edge a couple of times, but prevented any clean pressure. He set the edge well on one running play and drove his man downhill on another but also let his man get off his block for a stop early in the game.
Some have suggested the Jets view Qvale as the better run-blocker and Ijalana as more reliable in pass-protection and that this might influence their play calling when each is in the game and how they might be employed situationally. That may or may not be true, but, for the record, they ran the ball slightly more often with Qvale in there, but not significantly so (44 percent to 38 percent).
On running plays with Qvale in the game, the Jets gained 87 yards on 14 carries, as opposed to just 56 on 15 carries with Ijalana in the game. However, the majority of that yardage came on the drive that ultimately stalled at the goal line early in the fourth quarter.
It was disappointing that with all the concern over the right tackle position somewhat eradicated by some solid play, the issues the Jets had running the ball in short yardage situations still carried over from last year.
The key play was 2nd-and-goal from the one-yard line as the run was stacked up for a short loss. On that play the Jets opted to run behind Qvale, two tight ends and a ful back. Qvale was stood up, but the main issue was that Brandon Bostick allowed his man to shove him into the hole so that the fullback couldn't get a clean lead block.
Had the run gone left or been immediately bounced outside to the right, it probably would have been a touchdown because the rest of the line did a good job at the point of attack and Kellen Davis seemed to have his man controlled on the outside.
Dakota Dozier was the only active lineman not to get a snap, as Wesley Johnson was used as a jumbo package tight end on the aforementioned goal line play.
Before moving on, let's raise a glass to D'Brickashaw Ferguson. It was weird not to see him out there even though, most of the time, he did such a consistent job that you barely noticed him anyway. Unless you're the kind of lunatic who spends hours breaking down every player's role on each snap, of course. Cheers, Brick. You won't soon be forgotten.
Next up… An encouraging debut for Matt Forté, but did the Jets abandon the running game at the wrong times?