Home | Articles | Film Room | New York Jets film room: Sam Darnold’s keys against the Buffalo Bills defense | Sabo’s Sessions

New York Jets film room: Sam Darnold’s keys against the Buffalo Bills defense | Sabo’s Sessions

Sabo's Sessions, Sam Darnold, Buffalo Bills
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Sam Darnold and the New York Jets defense will have their hands full against a Buffalo Bills defense that loves Cover 3 and Cover 4.

Leslie Frazier is still doing his thing. Only now, he’s doing it under a defensive head coach, Sean McDermott.

Frazier, known for his safer Tampa 2 principles, is now running a Buffalo Bills defense influenced by McDermott. What’s surfaced is an ultra-soft unit (in terms of cushion) that looks to keep everything in front of it.

In 2019, the Bills defense gave up the fewest 20-plus and 40-plus-yard plays in the NFL. Playing Cover 4 (quarters) a good chunk of the time helps that cause, but it also allows vulnerabilities underneath.

Interestingly, Buffalo also does not blitz a ton. They finished 18th in rushing five or more players a year ago. But hey, who could argue with the results? Buffalo finished seventh in defensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders.

Enter the New York Jets and Sam Darnold, who open up against the AFC East 2020 favorites for a second-straight season.

Darnold will have to abide by certain keys this Sunday if he’s to lead his team to victory.

1. Downfield Patience Against Cover 4

This is the big one. Buffalo’s entire scheme is designed to wear out an offense. The unit never wants to allow a receiver behind it while keeping everything in front.

Part of how they accomplish this is by playing quarters coverage. They’ll show 4 presnap with plenty of room between the weapons on the defensive backs. Picking up four, five or six yards on first down will go a long way for Darnold.

The following example showcases Buffalo’s show 4 defense against the Houston Texans in the playoffs. Each DB has a No. 1 read and will react hard to a short break without much worry considering there will be another DB deep (most likely).

If Darnold could complete this play for five yards on first down, that will be the first key to cracking McDermott’s unit.

The following play is the first of the Week 17 game. Buffalo is in a Cover 4, and while Darnold does make the right decision (the flat to Jamison Crowder), he’s entirely too slow to get there:

Jets X-Factor Membership
Sorry, the content stops here if you’re not a Jet X Member, not currently logged-in, or viewing from an outside source such as Google AMP or an RSS Feed where logged-in status is not possible.

Get Started with the button below to access this Jets X-Factor article and the best damn New York Jets content in the world for free (after becoming a member, search for this article near the bottom of the Membership Confirmation page):
Jets X-Factor, Get Started
Log In with the button below if you’re already a member:
Jets X-Factor, Log In
Connect with the button below if you’d like to create a free account first:
Jets X-Factor, Connect

Want More Jet X?

Subscribe to become a Jet X Member to unlock every piece of Jets X-Factor content (film breakdowns, analytics, Sabo with the Jets, etc.), get audio versions of each article, receive the ability to comment within our community, and experience an ad-free platform experience.

Download the free Jet X Mobile App to get customizable notifications directly to your iOS (App Store) or Android (Google Play) device.

Sign up for Jet X Daily, our daily newsletter that's delivered to your inbox every morning at 8:00 a.m. ET.

Add Jets X-Factor to your Google News feed and/or find us on Apple News to stay updated with the New York Jets.

Follow us on X (Formerly Twitter) @jetsxfactor for all the latest New York Jets news, Facebook for even more, Instagram for some of the top NY Jets images, and YouTube for original Jets X-Factor videos.

Related Articles

About the Author

More From Author


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments