By now you’ve probably heard all about what the Jets need from Mark Sanchez to win on Sunday. (Mostly, it involves him not screwing up. Sometimes, football analysis is easy.) But what about Philip Rivers, i.e., the quarterback in this game who’s not playing with house money? After all, he’s the one who will have to handle all of Rex Ryan’s crazy blitz packages, and he’s also the one dealing with legitimate Super Bowl expectations.
The San Diego Union-Tribune today points out that opposing quarterbacks had just a 53.8 passer rating when the Jets blitzed — the lowest such rating in the NFL. But before you start shopping for your AFC title game tailgate, they also note that Rivers’s 103.7 passer rating when being blitzed ranked third among quarterbacks who’ve been blitzed more than 150 times. The paper quotes Norv Turner as saying that the Chargers have gotten a lot better at protecting Rivers by incorporating more quick passes into their offensive scheme, among other things. (Here is where we’d normally make a joke about Norv Turner, but he might just win coach of the year. Still, a reminder, in case the predictions have got you down: His playoff record is spotty.)
As for why exactly the Jets’ blitz has been so successful, this Football Outsiders piece explains, complete with diagram, that it has to do with rushing “from atypical locations” using “third-level defenders who are very difficult to account for.” Also, they balance their pressure and their coverage by taking advantage of Darrelle Revis being awesome. Rivers himself says that the Jets’ blitz is as good as he’s seen all year. He knows what’s coming. But that’s the easy part.