TOJ New York Jets Film Breakdown – Sam Darnold vs. Buffalo Bills

Joe Caporoso breaks down the film on Sam Darnold against the Buffalo Bills and gives other offensive observations

After each game he starts 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

3rd Down Poise 

After giving Jets fans a heart attack by temporarily leaving the game after his first drive, Darnold returned in the second quarter to convert this third and long to Robby Anderson.

The Jets come out in a singleback bunch formation with three receivers and one tight end. Darnold makes a check at the line of scrimmage that motions over Quincy Enunwa to the weak side of the formation. After the play action, the Jets keep both their tight end and back in for protection, with only the three receivers going out into the route.

The Bills show man coverage but then drop into a two deep zone. On the front side, Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson run a smash/fan combination, with Kearse on the five yard hitch route and Anderson on a deep corner route. Backside, Enunwa releases vertically up the field.

Anderson breaks his route at the right angle in front of the safety and Darnold makes an in rhythm throw off the play action that allows Anderson to avoid contact with the safety while still giving himself enough space to get his feet down in bounds. A perfectly placed throw to complement a perfectly run route.

No, God No

Most of the times Darnold has got himself into trouble this year, it is because he is trying to do too much. This third down play against Buffalo is no exception. The Jets are in a five wide formation with Darnold in the shotgun. Buffalo is again playing a two high zone.

On the backside, the Jets motion to a stack set for their two receivers, with Eli McGuire lined up behind Anderson. McGuire is wide open on his speed out but Darnold is flushed to the frontside of the formation due to pressure, eliminating him as a target.

On the frontside, a pair of hitch routes and a slot vertical route turns into a scramble drill. Instead of settling for the open hitch route on the outside short of the sticks, Darnold keeps rolling and tries to force the ball downfield to Chris Herndon. The throw is off balance, telegraphed and inaccurate…thus leading to an easy interception. This is one of those plays Darnold needs to accept that nothing is there and live to fight another down.

Five Other Observations:

  • This was one of the better days for the Jets offensive line, who did not allow a single sack and had a respectable showing in the running game. The lack of sacks is partially due to Sam Darnold’s mobility and pocket awareness but considering the front seven they went against, this was a positive showing. It is not an ideal situation but the Jets may have use for Spencer Long at guard next season while focusing investments on center and tackle.
  • Elijah McGuire is looking the part of a solid #2 running back. The numbers he posted still do not pop off the page (20 touches for 83 yards) but he can play on all three downs, hold up well in pass protection and has reliable enough hands. There is no reason he couldn’t be the top backup to a player like Le’Veon Bell over such a boom/bust player like Isaiah Crowell, who is likely to be out again this week.
  • There have been signs of progress from Robby Anderson the past two weeks, looking more like the player he was last year rather than the one he has been for most of this year. The Jets don’t need him to do all that much outside of being a vertical threat but he has to be able to contribute periodically in the short/intermediate passing game and he’s handled that better over the past two games.
  • More Chris Herndon, please. The Jets cannot allow another week to pass where Jordan Leggett is getting the same amount of targets as him. Manufacture a few plays to get the ball into his hands and diversify his alignment series to series.
  • For god’s sake stop playing Jermaine Kearse, he has been one of the least efficient receivers in the NFL this year. Give the reps to Deontay Burnett or Rishard Matthews to see if they could be useful next season.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the EVP of Content at Whistle Sports