Lethal Simplicity: Willie Taggert’s Jet Motion and Why it Will Continue to Stress Defenses
Jet motion has been taken over college football of late. The ability to move a man in motion right before the snap can make all the difference in a multitude of formations and situations in a gameplan.
Florida State’s Willie Taggart dictates his offense around the jet motion. By having an offense that uses an abundance of jet motion, it forces defensive discomfort and unpredictability throughout the game.
During Taggart’s introductory press conference at Florida State, he called his offense “lethal simplicity” and a huge part of that lethal simplicity is because of the jet motion: It is an easy install for coaches, easy translation for players, and easy to maximize within any offensive gameplan.
What is the Jet Motion
Installing a jet motion can be fairly simple. Above is an example of a basic install Urban Meyer used at Utah to signify a jet motion. It’s as simple as saying the position and telling them where to go.
For example, a jet motion call could sound like “Z RT” which means the Z wide receiver would move right on a jet motion across the formation. Easy to add and yet, it can make all the difference in the outcome of the play.
Key Disruption and Horizontal Stretching
Adjusting to jet motion can be very difficult for defenses, especially for linebackers. It tests the linebacker’s communication, eye discipline and can disrupt their keys when reading the play. Once a coach establishes the jet motion linebackers will start cheating up anticipating a jet sweep. Once the defense starts honoring the jet run that is when coaches will slip pass routes right by those cheating defenders.
Stretching the defense horizontally is another reason coaches use jet motion in their offenses. By stretching defenses horizontally, it gives the offense chances to attack vertically while the defense is moving side by side. That leaves more one-on-one matchups for wide receivers and easier reads for the quarterback. Taggart stretches defenses horizontally and attacks vertically as good as any coach in college football. He is going to have an extremely talented quarterback in Deondre Francois at Florida State. The use of jet motion will make reads easier for him and allow him to utilize his players in space more often.
Starting the game out using a jet motion is the first step to establishing the jet run. The reason behind this is to get the defense to honor the jet early and often.
Here is the first play of the UCLA game. Taggart calls a counter run with a jet motion. The linebackers are late reacting to play because of the action going on in the backfield. The UCLA backers are caught staring into the backfield and by the time they realize what is happening the wing and right guard are engaged in their blocks leaving an open lane for Royce Freeman.
The first play against Washington is an inside zone with a jet motion to see how the linebackers are moving. As you can see in this play the linebackers do not really account for the jet motion. The only player to react to it is the safety but he is not fooled by the jet motion much either.
Few plays later in the Washington game Taggart runs a jet motion run back to that same side as the first play of the game. This time he lines up 3x1 with the jet motion making it a 3x0. This play picks up 13 yards because of what Washington showed on the very first play of the game.
Willie Taggert’s Weapon for Quarterbacks
Taggart uses all these runs for one reason, to open up the middle of the field in the passing game. These jet motions force defenses to go horizontally and once he establishes that he can attack vertically. He makes it so easy for the quarterbacks to make plays and react to what the defense is doing. Taggart has a bunch of staple plays he likes to run when he commits to the pass game.
The wheel/slant combo is deadly and adding a jet motion to it should be downright illegal. The beauty of a play like this is once the jet is established linebackers will honor the motion and they are able to slip routes right by the backers.
The jet sweep was killing Wyoming all game and by the second quarter the Wyoming defense looked as lost as I have ever seen a defense. On this play two Wyoming defenders get caught looking at the motion man leaving the middle of the field wide open for the slant route. The defender covering the motion man is supposed to drop back is supposed to be dropping back to cover the middle of the field. Instead he gets caught and the slant slips right behind him for a touchdown.
This sequence of plays Taggart ran against Southern Utah is one of the prettier things you’ll see in football. In three plays Taggart attacked horizontally using a pass and jet run then was able to run the wheel/slant combo to throw a touchdown pass. These three plays were the fourth, fifth and sixth play of the game.
Play 1: Oregon lines up in 11 personnel (1 tight end/1 running back) and runs a wheel/slant combo with the wing and the right wide receiver. This play ends up as a 14-yard completion.
Play 2: Oregon lines up in 10 personnel (1 running back/0 tight ends) and runs a jet sweep to the slot wide out and picks up 13-yards.
Play 3: Oregon lines up in 11 personnel again and runs another wheel/slant combo. The two linebackers commit to the play action and the middle of the field is wide open for the wheel route. Truly mesmerizing and efficient offensive play by Willie Taggart.
A running back seam, slot post combination is one Oregon ran a few times during the 2017 season. This play is the ultimate home run hitter because linebackers will fly up to play the motion man leaving the seam/post vs. man coverage. One goal of jet motion is it allows your wide outs to get easy and beatable one-one-one matchups.
This play worked to perfection vs. Arizona. Arizona completely overcommitted to the jet motion because of how effective it was working in the beginning of the game.
Three Arizona defenders took steps towards the line of scrimmage which is exactly what you want to happen on this play. All of their eyes are locked on the backfield option and are oblivious to the players running right by them. The jet motion creates another element for defenders to worry about and the Arizona defense showcases what can happen when the offense sticks to the jet motion.
Maximizing Deandre Francois
Florida State and Willie Taggart fit like a glove because of the pieces that team already has on offense. Taggart will be able to construct an offense around possibly his most talented quarterback he has had in Deondre Francois.
Francois has the middle of the field accuracy to succeed in a big way playing in this offense.
He also has the pocket movement and sideline arm talent to be able to extend the defense horizontally like Taggart looks for in his quarterbacks.
The jet motion can completely change the landscape of an offense, and it’s a primary reason for Taggert’s offensive uniqueness and success every step of his career. Being able to keep the defense on its toes every single play is something I truly believe every coach wants in their offense. The jet motion is becoming more and more prevalent throughout college football because coaches are now seeing the benefits of it.
Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson is someone who has embraced the benefits of jet motion and we saw how that offense did. With a full offseason of film, coaching clinics, and offensive install, expect a lot more teams in college and the NFL to use jet motion because of its “lethal simplicity” and the overall benefits it adds to an offense.