The Josh Allen Fan Club has significantly increased their ranks since the Buffalo Bills’ rookie quarterback returned to the field. Allen has become a multidimensional threat, hurting the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins with his cannon arm and rocket legs.
Setting team records for quarterback rushing yards in back to back weeks, it’s a safe bet that teams will respond. To see how the New York Jets might look to counter Allen’s running we turn to film review for how they game-planned linebacker Darron Lee against mobile quarterbacks. It turned out that this included a grand total of one player this year. Tyrod Taylor in Week 3. For a comprehensive scouting report on Tyrod Taylor, please refer to the comments section of any Buffalo Rumblings article from the 2017 season.
Editor’s note: Lee was suspended for the rest of the season on Friday for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse. We are choosing to publish this article because it shows what the Jets did against a running quarterback beyond what Lee himself brings to the table, and it’s likely Lee’s replacement will do these things, as well. - MRW
It’s not uncommon to have a linebacker patrol the middle like Darron Lee is doing here without it being a true “spy” role. Lee looks like he might chase the running back but quickly turns his eyes back to Tyrod Taylor. The Jets didn’t appear to go all out on a Taylor spy but did have Lee in this area of the field for a safety blanket.
Lee is in a pass-rushing role for this play. He’s bumped on the way in and sees a more definitive blocker right after. Lee immediately sees Taylor about to slip by and sheds the block. Even still, he’s not fast enough to get a hand on Taylor and the rest of the crowd shuts the door on his pursuit. Without anyone watching out for a Taylor scramble the results are not pretty for the Jets.
Darron Lee shows good play-recognition and reaction again. Carlos Hyde gets the ball and Lee tries to clog a lane at the line in response. As the graphic shows, he’s batted aside pretty easily. Hyde pitches the ball back, and Lee backs off to play Tyrod Taylor. Though it’s not necessary on this play, Lee shadows Taylor pretty well.
This happened a few times in this game. Lee initially looks to be responsible for the running back, but quickly sheds off that assignment and comes back to Taylor. In the event Taylor was taking off to his right, Lee would have been in poor position.
The swat from above that shook Lee off the line isn’t an anomaly. When engaged in a shoving match, Lee can be pushed around. This graphic shows David Njoku taking Lee well away from the play.
The rapid shed of the block in Play 2 isn’t an anomaly either. Lee’s ability to change direction while maintaining tackling technique results in a great open-field take-down of Taylor. Bills fans have seen him shake off enough defenders to know that this isn’t a gimme.
It’s subtle, but Lee flashes a little running back weaving through the lane to get to the quarterback. Hesitation and a little wiggle help him come in clean. Carlos Hyde arguably could have put a little effort toward a chip as well.
The play-call for the Jets leaves a wide swatch of open field in front of Taylor and Duke Johnson. Darron Lee mans the gap from a distance but maintains eyes on Taylor. Not only can the spy impact scrambles, but this extra focus on the quarterback can become a factor in passing lanes.
With Josh Allen setting and breaking his own rushing records, it would hardly be surprising to see the Jets allocate a little extra manpower in shutting down Allen’s run game. If they elect to do that, Darron Lee is a likely candidate. This should be an interesting match-up if it plays out. Lee is agile, fast, and can weave reasonably well through traffic. On the other hand, Allen is a little harder to bring down than Taylor and Lee seems to routinely struggle when strength is needed over finesse.