As long as I can remember, The NFL has been notoriously stubborn when it comes to embracing and implementing creative schemes. Typically, offensive concepts are being run at high schools and colleges throughout America well before the NFL ever takes notice. There is a reasonable explanation for this phenomenon. The majority of these schemes simply will not work in the NFL due to the speed, size and athleticism of the modern day NFL defender. Once in a blue moon, however, a scheme pops up that an NFL coach believes will work at the next level. Yes, the league is stubborn and set in its way, but when a team is bold enough to take the plunge and does so with tremendous success, the new concept spreads like wildfire. In 2018 that coach is Sean McVay, that team is the Los Angeles Rams, and that concept is the Jet-Sweep series.
Is McVay the mastermind behind it all? Certainly not. But he had the guts to put it into action and it’s taking the entire National Football League by storm. Breaking down the tape from Week 6, it was truly staggering to see how many teams have implemented the jet sweep series into their offense.
In my time watching the NFL, the most notable examples of adoption and mass implementation of collegiate schemes have been the wildcat and the zone-read. The typical arc we’ve seen with these and other trendy play designs or concepts goes as follows:
- Team implements scheme and has major success
- Rest of the league takes notice, implements their own variation of the scheme, and has moderate success
- Opposing coordinators begin to dissect the scheme and strategize against it
- Scheme begins to get neutralized
- Use of the scheme gets reduced down to a small package that is only utilized within specific game-plans or ideal personnel groupings.
Solving the puzzles of wildcat and zone-read took some time, but at the end of the day the solutions were rather simple assuming you had the athletes on defense equivalent to that of the opposing offense. I’ve sat in the Susquehanna defensive staff room for hours on end trying to break these schemes down. In short, the solution to both schemes was to find a creative way to insert an extra defender into the box.
I remember preparing for Muhlenberg College on a Monday afternoon in October of 2013. They ran a ton of jet-sweep action and we were concerned about our run fits because of it. The challenge really is not stoping the jet-sweep play itself, it’s common practice to just roll your coverage towards the jet motion. The difficulty comes with being sound in your fits to defend the entire jet-sweep series and its infinite wrinkles. I can honestly say I didn’t have much conviction in my answer for it back then, and I still don’t today. I’m beyond excited to see how some of the brightest defensive minds in the NFL attack it as the 2018 season moves forward.
I’ve attached a few clips (property of the National Football League) of examples of jet-sweep influenced run game from Week 6. I can sit there and point out where each play breaks down from a defensive perspective, but I’m admittedly stumped regarding coming up with an optimal defensive scheme to combat the multiplicity that this lateral wrench adds to an offense.
The Rams use the jet-action here to freeze the backside linebacker, and run the outside zone play away from it
The nose-tackle obviously does a terrible job getting reached across multiple gaps, but this play will still be difficult to fit with that backer honoring the jet motion. The 3-tech here does an amazing job or else you could have driven an 18 wheeler into the endzone.
Here, Goff identifies man-coverage pre-snap and they check to one of their “give” variations within their jet-sweep package. The TE arch-release should hold the safety just in case they are in zone coverage.
The unblocked end is never making this play.
Here’s the skins running a gap-scheme variation within their jet-sweep package
The pulling guard and jet-motion influence the backer away from flow, and the 3-tech gets trapped.
Look for more jet sweep in Week 7. More importantly, look for a team who is able to stop it. I haven’t found one yet!
PS: I couldn’t help myself from trying to solve the puzzle after writing this blog.. Here’s one possible answer:
C (to the jet motion): trap technique
C (away from the jet motion): robber tech
F: roll to opposite deep half
R: D gap / late flat defender
S: C-gap / hook/curl
M: B-gap / MOF
W: Force defender / flat
E (weak side): C-Gap / contain rusher
E (strong side): Long-stick to the B gap
T: Pinch to the A-gap