Jets linebacker Calvin Pace recently called the Patriots’ no-huddle offense “borderline illegal.” The Jets apparently believe that it’s the officials, not the Pats, who are failing to follow the rules.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has explained to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News that the Jets will be emphasizing to officials the provisions that allow defenses to react and adapt to changes made in the offensive lineup.
“It’s going to be a major point of contention before [our] game with the officials to make sure that they know the rule is when they substitute we’re permitted to substitute,” Pettine told Mehta.
“If the officials permit [the Patriots] to do that, then the game is going to become chaos,” Pettine said. “That’s the problem. Because we’re going to be running guys on. We need to make sure that that is enforced for this game, because we found examples on tape where it has not been. Then it’s impossible. Now you can’t defend it.”
The rulebook makes it clear that the officials have the responsibility to ensure that the defense has a fair chance to adjust to lineup changes. Per Mehta, Rule 5, Section 2, Article 10 states that “if a substitution is made by the offense, the offense shall not be permitted to snap the ball until the defense has been permitted to respond with its substitutions. . . . The offense is prohibited from rushing quickly to the line of scrimmage and snapping the ball in an obvious attempt to cause a defensive foul (i.e. — too many men on the field). . . . The umpire will stand over the ball until the Referee deems that the defense has had a reasonable time to complete its substitutions.”
“When they change, that should trigger the ability for us to change,” Pettine said. “I’m all for the no-huddle and one grouping. Whoever you put out there, you better be prepared to go through a whole series and be out there for a while. And that’s fine. When they change, we need to be given the right to change . . . and we’re going to make sure that right is given to us.”
And that’s the difference between hitting the accelerator with versatile players on the field and shuttling in other players quickly in the hopes of catching the defense with its pants down.
Should the Jets be taking their concerns public? In a roundabout way, they are complaining about the officiating — not from their own games, but from the games involving other teams. The comments are, in essence, a more subtle version of Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride’s complaint that 49ers defensive end Justin Smith “gets away with murder.”
And now the question becomes whether Pats coach Bill Belichick will rebuke the Jets, Harbaugh-style, for both criticizing and influencing officiating. Because, at its core, that’s precisely what the Jets are doing.
If it works on Sunday, it will have been brilliant.