New season, new format for our weekly passing game breakdowns of the New York Jets. After each game we will focus on one positive play and one negative from San Darnold, explaining what happened and why. At the bottom of the article, I will also drop 5 extra observations on the team’s overall offensive performance. For further breakdowns of the film, make sure you are subscribed to us on YouTube.
There have been some misguided concerns about Sam Darnold’s arm strength. Beyond his six touchdown passes of 20 yards or longer, this play in particular (outside in October in the Meadowlands) should help put those to rest. The Jets are backed on a 3rd and 12 inside their own 15 yard line. They go shotgun, single back with a tight end backside to help in pass protection. Terrelle Pryor is the outside receiver, Jermaine Kearse is the outside slot and Quincy Enunwa is the inside slot.
The route concept is very basic. Pryor runs a five yard in-cut, bringing the cornerback (in man coverage) inside with him to help clear a throwing lane. Kearse runs a deep out route slightly past the first down marker (13 yards), while Enunwa releases up the seam to occupy the linebacker. Kearse is able to beat his man and Darnold times his throw perfectly before the safety can come crashing down to help. This ball is released from the opposite hash at the 5 yard line and is perfectly placed in a small window on the sideline at the 26 yard line. A 21 yard laser should calm those arm strength questions.
Missing The Lay Up In The Red Zone
Early in the game, the Jets were forced to settle for a field goal on a red zone trip, thanks mostly to this missed opportunity on second down. The Jets are again in a shotgun single back. They motion Jermaine Kearse over to balance the formation with Quincy Enunwa as the outside receiver on the backside. The cornerback bails after the motion, giving Enunwa space to run a speed out to the first down marker. He is open but Darnold gets a little too excited and sails what should be an easy completion to move the chains. This was the correct read. It was just a flat out miss.
Five Other Observations:
- This was a 2009 level throwback performance for the New York Jets offensive line. They absolutely dominated a talented Broncos front seven, clearing massive running lanes for the Jets backs and protecting Sam Darnold consistently throughout the game. Brandon Shell and Brian Winters both stood out in particular and this was arguably Spencer Long’s best game blocking (although he needs to get those shotgun snaps down).
- The Jets offensive outburst was even more impressive considering the mistakes weathered from Bilal Powell and Quincy Enunwa, who had previously been their top two players through the first quarter of the season. Enunwa had a pair of drops and was called for a holding penalty that brought back a big run. Powell’s first quarter fumble is the only the reason this game was remotely competitive into the second half. It will be interesting/exciting to see the Jets offense, if they can keep guys like Anderson, Crowell and Pryor firing on all cylinders when Enunwa/Powell return back to their usual form.
- They are not making a major impact in the passing game (keeping a window open for Neal Sterling to return in a fairly prominent role) but both Jordan Leggett and Chris Herndon have held up surprisingly well as blockers, in both the passing and running game. Ironically, it is Eric Tomlinson of all people who now has three big plays for a first down on a tight end screen.
- Jeremy Bates moved away from the boot game this week, integrating it far less than he has in previous weeks. He also avoided any notably concerning calls (a pitch reverse to Anderson, a shotgun five wide on 3rd and 1 or endless toss plays that were not working). This is probably the best overall game he called. He also attempted to integrate a motion speed out that the Jets had success with last year to Robby Anderson, the play was open but the ball was batted down at the line. Look for that play to resurface again.
- Somewhat surprised the Jets have not used Darnold more as a runner, particularly in RPO looks but he did convert both of his QB sneaks for first downs (and is now 3 for 3 on converting designed runs on the season for first downs).