I noticed this trend early in camp and wrote about it, but it would seem that Gailey has accelerated the use of the wrinkle along with the players who could see time out of the slot this year for the Jets, according to the Daily News.
Chan Gailey’s wrinkle to deploy Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker in the slot has likely gone unnoticed to most, but it’ll be critical for myriad reasons.
Although teams typically move smaller, shiftier players into the slot, Gailey’s decision to use one or two tall targets inside on any given play will keep the opposition guessing. Wide receivers and pass-catching tight ends will be interchangeable along the formation to give the scheme an unpredictable bent.
The 6-4 Marshall, 6-3 Decker and even 6-2 second-year man Quincy Enunwa, who has taken his fair share of slot reps this offseason, will give Ryan Fitzpatrick more visible targets amid the chaos in the middle of the field. The bigger bodies will provide a dimension that should help the veteran signal caller.
Marshall, Decker and Enunwa are all larger bodies and you can see how closely bunched the top three guys are compared to Jeremy Kerley. Owusu is the burner (4.31 timed forty) of the group and is the closest "bridge" that the team has between the groups. He is a bit shorter, but he could easily be used as a "big slot" in a pinch as well. BMI might seem like an odd measurement to post, but an argument is being made in the metrics community that mass matters more as defensive backs get bigger - so too do receivers.
While height and weight don't an NFL player make, you can see why if this is the Jets' approach that Kerley seems to be falling out of favor as he is neither fleet of foot for his size or imposing physically.
Watching Marshall in Trestman's offense might have galvanized this approach, but keep in mind that this is nothing new for Chan Gailey, who used David Nelson (6'5" 215 pounds) extensively in the slot, logging 89 percent of his 500-plus snaps out of the slot back in 2011.
Marshall is very effective in such a role and Gailey realizes that the best way to extend Marshall's productivity is by using him extensively in the slot. Putting a 6-foot-4 receiver with Marshall’s speed, physicality and range on (generally) smaller defensive backs or disadvantaged safeties or linebackers will allow the Jets quarterbacks to rely on that big slot player heavily in the passing game.
Maybe there's even a "workhorse" element to using a player like Marshall in the slot. If that's so, the Jets need to have a counter ready to keep the momentum up in the slot. Just as backfields increasingly move to committees around the league, why not do the same thing out of the slot? Could Chan Gailey be creating a workhorse receiver-by-committee approach when it comes to slot targets? That could keep defenses guessing even more and bring more wrinkles to the types of routes, roles, and dynamism that Chan Gailey seems to want from the slot position.