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How The Jets Air Raid System Is Working


SamMills51
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Thought you guys might be interested in how this “supposed to be trash” team is doing great lately.

It’s all thanks to a certain Sean Payton disciple.

http://twoqbs.com/qb-profiles/air-raid-offense-josh-mccown/

What is and is not a “college” offense is semantics. NFL offenses are running many of the same concepts found in prominent, or even unique, college offenses. There are tweaks here and there, and NFL teams operate more often under center, but the passing concepts remain constant. At the end of the day, offense is offense.

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That brings us to the New York Jets. Believe it or not, the Jets are at the forefront for opening up the modern NFL offense with Air Raid concepts. First year offensive coordinator John Morton is piecing together a wonderful offense, even if the Jets do not have the horsepower to accomplish anything. Morton spent the previous two seasons under Sean Payton’s tutelage in New Orleans as a wide receivers coach. For the four seasons before that, Morton was in San Francisco during the Jim Harbaugh era, also as a wide receivers coach. The influence from both Harbaugh and Payton can be seen in Morton’s offense, but it is the shades of Payton and the Air Raid that are more intriguing. 

In all reality, the Saints are also an Air Raid offense — at least as close as the NFL is going to get to a true Air Raid. Morton has brought many of those principles to New York, as well as some of his own. The aggressive, wide-open concepts have given veteran quarterback Josh McCown some life as he finishes out the back-nine of his career. Let’s take a look at the Air Raid offense and how the Jets are utilizing it...

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HITCH + SEAM

Let’s start with an Air Raid staple that Morton has committed to through the first half of this season. A “Hitch” + “Seam” combination can stress one-deep and two-deep safety looks alike. It can stretch vertically as well, as it provides a quick game element, if the quarterback feels the “Hitch” is open. 

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To the bottom of the screen is a “Hitch” + ”Seam” combination in its simplest form. The outside receiver pushes to about five yards, then stops and shows hands to the quarterback. The slot receiver runs a straight vertical down the seam, hence the name of the route. Versus Cover-3, as in this example, the flat defender has to either wall the vertical initially or immediately sprint to cover the “Hitch” route. If he carries vertically, which he should and often will, then the “Hitch” will be open. If not, the “Seam” player can sit between the two deep-thirds and be open there. 

McCown knows the “Hitch” will be open if the coverage is Cover-3, as indicated pre-snap by the one-deep safety and cornerbacks in a deep, hips-open alignment. Once the ball is snapped, McCown quick peeks to the back side. The back side receiver is running a stop-n-go, so McCown peeks to him for a second to see if the cornerback will bite. McCown quickly sees that the cornerback does not bite. Without hesitation, McCown turns and fires the ball to the “Hitch” player for a solid gain. 

It is easy to add to the “Hitch” + ”Seam” combination, too. An additional play-side route can be added without disrupting the core concept. Likewise, the north/south nature of the concept allows for the back-side of plays to run an entirely different concept because it will not interfere with the play side. 

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“Stick” is a staple of the Air Raid. A “Stick” route requires the receiver to stem to about five yards, then make a decision based on the coverage. Versus zone coverage, the receiver will stick his foot in the dirt at the top of the stem, turn around and show hands to the quarterback. Versus man coverage, the receiver can either turn it into a quick “out” route or a “pivot” route, where he plants inside and breaks back outside. Morton likes to attach a “Stick” route to the play-side of his “Hitch” + ”Seam” concept. 

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Here is an example of being able to run an entirely separate back-side concept. A “Dig” + “Flat” combination on the back-side is typical of an Air Raid offense. The “Dig” can feast over the middle once linebackers have vacated to the play-side. A “Flat” route as an emergency option is viable for most any passing concept and works well here. In this example, McCown liked the back-side matchup and found the “Dig” player for a big gain.

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The handful of Air Raid concepts above are not the only staples of the system. “Y-Cross” (a.k.a. “Weak Flood), various screens, and other quick game concepts are also vital to the overall construct of the Air Raid, as well as Morton’s offense. That being said, the concepts covered in this piece are proof that the Air Raid can work in the NFL. Teams all around the league are running these concepts. Some, like Morton, choose to lean on them more than others, but you can find these concepts in any NFL offense. True collegiate Air Raid systems packaging those concepts differently does not make them different concepts. 

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Nevertheless, college offense is NFL offense. There are only so many ways four or five players can run on a field with set boundaries. The gap between the two leagues is starting to bridge together faster now more than ever.

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Good read... Although sticks has been around forever long before the air raid it really is interesting to see how the NFL finally acquiesced and started adapting these college innovations into their package. 

There used to be a pretty firm wall between college and pro offenses. Like I never thought I'd see the day when an NFL team ran the option with their quarterback with any regularity. Now we don't even bat an eye. It's pretty cool to see because pro offenses used to get kind of boring to my eye after a while.

Edited by PeytonMannings Forehead
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2 hours ago, PeytonMannings Forehead said:

Good read... Although sticks has been around forever long before the air raid it really is interesting to see how the NFL finally acquiesced and started adapting these college innovations into their package. 

There used to be a pretty firm wall between college and pro offenses. Like I never thought I'd see the day when an NFL team ran the option with their quarterback with any regularity. Now we don't even bat an eye. It's pretty cool to see because pro offenses used to get kind of boring to my eye after a while.

Seeing the shovel option starting to be used with regularity pretty much affirmed the fact colleges and NFL are starting to look very similar.

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2 hours ago, SamMills51 said:

Thought you guys might be interested in how this “supposed to be trash” team is doing great lately.

They've blown two 14 point leads in a row, and they just gave up 31 points to the worst offense in the league by far.  So I don't know that I'd say they are doing "great".

But since most thought they were going to win 2 games, they have certainly done better than expected.

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