One of the main items on the New York Jets' offensive agenda this week in practice was to concentrate on positional flexibility. In other words, coordinator Brian Schottenheimer wanted to move around his chess pieces, familiarizing them with different positions in the system.
"The good news is we don't have to put people in specific spots anymore," Schottenheimer said.
A year ago, WR Braylon Edwards was used primarily in the split end (X) position, WR Jerricho Cotchery at flanker (Z). With the Pittsburgh Steelers, Santonio Holmes was mostly a split end, although he lobbied (unsuccessfully) to move around. In those positions, Edwards and Holmes were stationary, rarely in motion and rarely in the slot.
On Monday night, the Jets provided a sneak peek of their 2010 offense, deploying their skill-position players in multiple spots. Edwards, Cotchery and Brad Smith appeared in all three receiver postion -- split end, flanker and slot. Obviously, it makes them more unpredictable and more difficult to defend.
An unofficial film breakdown of the first 16 plays (the first two drives) illustrates the new flexibility. The positions are listed in order, starting with the spot they were used most often.
Edwards: Right side of the formation, left side, slot, wingback, motion into the slot.
Cotchery: Slot, left side, right side, motion into the slot.
Smith: Right side, slot, left side.
TE Dustin Keller: In-line left, in-line right, right wing, left wing, slot, backfield.
Holmes: Right side (only two plays)
Schottenheimer also moved around his backs. On the second play of the game, LaDainian Tomlinson motioned into the slot, creating an "empty" look. Unfortunately for the Jets, QB Mark Sanchez forced a ball to Tomlinson, resulting in an interception. On one play, FB Tony Richardson was split out to the left as a receiver. In perhaps the biggest surprise, RB Shonn Greene, not known for his receiving prowess, was used in the slot in an "empty" look.
"Braylon has been phenomenal, just seeing the improvement that he has made (by) learning all of the positions," Rex Ryan said. "Santonio told me that in Pittsburgh, he only learned one position. Right now, Santonio has challenged himself to try and learn everything. So it's easy to say I want Braylon to play the X or I want Santonio to play the Z. Of course, Jerricho knows all of (the positions). (We have) flexibility ... The combination of those three guys (is great to see)."