Playbook: Jets’ disguise might have fooled Rivers

With six minutes to go in the fourth quarter and his Chargers down by three, Philip Rivers released what must have looked to him like an easy completion to his go-to receiver on a pivotal third-and-6.

But only moments after he let the ball go, you could see on tape all that a Pro Bowl signal-caller had been deceived. Jets corner Kyle Wilson wasn’t supposed to be there –- but he was, and Rivers gave a frustrated hop before the ball was picked and New York had basically sealed their 27-21 win over San Diego.

From that moment of disgust, let’s rewind now and tell you why Rivers was upset.

From studying the entire game tape, it seems like the Chargers’ offense had game planned to face more man-to-man defense than they actually saw from the Jets’ secondary. San Diego used a lot of motion to try and have the Jets tip their hand. Usually, when a team is playing man-to-man defense, a defender will trail whoever they are covering across the formation.

On Rivers’ interception, Wilson trailed Patrick Crayton in motion. At that point, Rivers must have thought he had man-to-man defense and Wilson, the trailing defender, should have been latched on to Crayton in the flat.

Instead, Wilson passed off Crayton to Darrelle Revis, who was covering the flat in the Jets’ exotic matchup zone. Wilson, on the other hand, stayed with Vincent Jackson over the middle and picked off the pass.

That was just one play, but the Chargers were forced to be perfect by how the Jets played on offense in the second half. They finally established the run game, utilizing Shonn Greene on more downhill running plays. New York abandoned the traps and draws -– lateral run schemes tailored for LaDainian Tomlinson’s talents but not best suited for the Jets’ reshuffled offensive line -– and they instead ran more power runs and isos.

The Jets had drives of 10, nine and seven plays in the second half, which minimized the Chargers’ offense’s time of possession down the stretch. And San Diego ended up with only one drive of more than five plays in the second half.

That made Rivers’ interception a big oops at the end of the game.

Tape study tidbits

Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel’s 38.3 quarterback rating — in a win — was puzzling, but we feel his pain when seeing the amount of separation his receivers are getting. Nobody is winning and drops were plentiful. Cassel wasn’t sacked at all, but his offense had nine negative plays. … Oakland, on a positive note, has a rejuvenated Aaron Curry on their team. Since being traded from the Seahawks, he has been flying around and using his natural athleticism to make plays. … Tennessee linebackers Barrett Ruud and Will Witherspoon didn’t attack Houston’s zone-run offense. They did not get off blocks, and the Texans ran nearly half of their plays to the weak side of their formation to negate rookie edge setter Akeem Ayers.  …  Detroit has to get used to teams doubling Calvin Johnson, and in a multitude of ways. He is seeing not only a safety over the top, but linebackers bracketing him on inside routes and even defensive ends dropping into coverage to take away routes over the middle. … St. Louis center Jason Brown tipped off the Dallas defense on nearly every snap. He would nod his head before the snap, which gave nose tackle Jay Ratliff a huge jump versus the run and pass. Later in the game, Brown would try and toss in a “fake” head jerk every once and awhile to try and slow down the Cowboys’ tackles –- but it didn’t work. … Minnesota center Joe Berger, in place an injured John Sullivan, played well against the Packers’ front, including B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett. Both were in his face every play as nose shades, but he blocked them up and Adrian Peterson had 175 yards on the ground.

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