Raiders vs jets

FSM Presents: Zo Huddle – Raiders vs Jets: The Hail Mary That Kept The Jets Winless 


Time to introduce something new to Franchise Sports Media: A segment called “Zo Huddle.” Think of it as the football term “no-huddle” but the ‘Z’ replacing the ‘N.’ Zo as in Lorenzo Reyna… The newest addition to FSM’s Raider beat. Nice to meet you!


Also think of ESPN’s “Detail” series, where prominent sports stars break down how a certain player, sequence, or play worked. With my years of compartmentalizing football film, I’ve decided to bring that element to the FSM team.

Now, time for the first installment: The breakdown of the Derek Carr to Henry Ruggs III touchdown that kept the Las Vegas Raiders in playoff contention and the losing New York Jets in contention for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.


Pre-snap before the Hail Mary is unleashed 


Raiders vs Jets
Photo Credit: UPI

The Raiders are lined up in 11 personnel (one tight end, one running back) with three receivers out wide. The Jets have their trenches set with two down defensive linemen and their edge rushers standing up in a two-point stance. Behind them are three linebackers ready to dial the pressure – with safety Matthias Farley lined up behind inside linebacker Neville Hewitt ready to bring the backend of the house call.

For any video game heads out there who play any Madden NFL game, this resembles an “Engage Eight” defensive play where you bring eight and leave three defensive backs to cover. On the PS5 or Xbox, this works against running plays when it’s third and short. In real-life football games, defenses will use this to rattle an untested rookie quarterback or execute the short-yardage stop.

It is rare that defenses, especially with 13 seconds left to play, roll the dice and call this scheme. The Raiders were near midfield and were left with 13 seconds and 46 yards to win the game. In all my years covering football, when this situation arises, defenses will often put 4-5 defensive backs in the end zone while trusting their front line to generate the pass rush.

Except, the newly fired Jets’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams clearly believed that dialing up the pressure would seal victory No. 1 for Gang Green.


On the perimeter is a soul snatcher 


Again, the Raiders have three deep options available for one final attempt at keeping their postseason hopes alive. With the threat of eight men coming, the Jets attempt to throw the kitchen sink at Carr, hoping it ends with a sack or Carr extending the play outside of the pocket. But when you have a wide receiver who ran a reported 4.3 40-yard dash time in Henry Ruggs III paired with a defender who runs a reported 4.58 time in cornerback Lamar Jackson, that is the equivalent of hoping an Alaskan brown bear can run with a cheetah. The latter always wins that foot race.


After the snap 


The green and white tidal wave begins to take form. The Raiders opted to leave top target Darren Waller, who torched the Jets for the rare TE stat line of 13 catches and 200 yards, as an extra blocker. With a blocking back also available, the Raiders manage to get seven hats on the seven defenders already congesting the line of scrimmage. The safety Farley then decides to make his beeline toward Carr, representing the eighth rusher.

Farley, however, is too late on the delayed blitz. Carr has enough wiggle room to step into the pocket and fire the long ball. Meanwhile, on the Jets’ backend…


The aftermath of the blitz 


Ruggs III busts the Hitch-and-Go route, freezing up the defender Jackson’s feet and then turning and accelerating upfield. In Jackson’s mind, he probably thinks Ruggs III will run a comeback route, or the ball is going to Hunter Renfrow.

But here’s what I admire about the HNG route – when executed correctly, the receiver pulls off a wicked double move and gains separation between him and his defender.

What also made this play perfect for the Raiders? Jackson has no safety help. Farley was summoned to blitz, and Jackson was left on a field island with him and Ruggs III.

Ruggs III creates a 2-yard cushion, Carr drops the aerial dime, and lastly, the Raiders stay in the AFC postseason hunt and keep the Jets in pursuit of the top pick in the next NFL Draft.


Post huddle


Raiders vs Jets
Photo Credit: Jets Wire

That Hail Mary was a prayer that was answered for the Silver and Black.

Raiders fans feared back-to-back embarrassing losses to an Atlanta Falcons’ team notorious for blowing leads and a Jets’ team that still had the goose egg in the win column.

However, “Engage Eight” led to six points for Las Vegas. And now, the Raiders’ playoff hopes are still bright like the Sin City Strip after 10 p.m. while the Jets will most likely have new coaching job postings on their website or soon.

On Monday morning, the Jets relived Williams from his defensive coordinator position, which was expected at the end of the year. Williams’s last call as defensive coordinator was not a defense to prevent the Jets from losing, rather a blitz call that prevented them from winning.


Let me add an interesting tidbit. Look up Williams’ last call before he was fired from the Saints. Hit me on Twitter, and let’s talk about it.



Make sure to come back to Franchise Sports Media next week for another edition of Zo Huddle where I break down the Raiders key plays of the game that was.


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Lorenzo J. Reyna – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter: @LJ_Reyna


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