Sam Darnold
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Sam Crnic answers questions surrounding the New York Jets’ blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers using All-22 film.

Coming off an embarrassing blowout loss to the 49ers, there are a ton of question marks surrounding this pitiful New York Jets roster. The lack of competitiveness and organization continues to plague the team from the front office on down. Some may decide to pin the early-season woes on the shoulders of Sam Darnold, Adam Gase, or the defense, but the blame needs to be placed upon the team as a whole.

Each and every member of the Jets need to take a deep dive into how much they love football. From the criticism of Bradley McDougald regarding the Jets’ energy in practice to Gase willing to blame injuries for the lack of aggressive playcalling, the culture isn’t improving.

While there are multiple faces to point fingers at for this occurrence, the real task is not to find out who to blame, but to find the solution to it all. Instead of choosing who to side with, let’s take a look at how can the Jets get better with the personnel they have now.

As I did last week, I’ll be answering questions from fans using All-22 film regarding Week 2’s disaster against the 49ers. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@sam_crnic) with your questions about the game from a film analyst’s perspective.

Sam Darnold kept dumping it off to the flat – didn’t throw deep balls and ignored the middle of the field. Why? Were our TE’s and WR’s getting open? – @ToddLCohen

While last week one could question Darnold’s ability in the passing game, this game’s lack of explosive offensive plays can be placed directly on Gase’s shoulders. With a pedestrian gameplan (to say the least), an excuse of injuries “forced” Gase into abandoning deep throws; a large part of Darnold’s game. Although Sam missed a couple of opportunities, Gase’s determination to not play-call toward’s his quarterback’s strengths is slowly deconstructing any chance of development or progress.

This is one rare example where Gase did create a chance for something downfield, but the Jets fail to convert. The 49ers line up as a disguised Cover 2 right before the snap, but change to a Cover 1 off the ball. With man-to-man coverage everywhere and the free safety covering the flat, Sam needs to make an anticipated throw based on his receiver’s breaks or scramble to avoid a slowly-crumbling pocket. The second Herndon breaks to the outside, Darnold falls victim to yet another sack (allowed by George Fant).

If Sam scrambled right, abandoning his first read, Braxton Berrios was open down the right sideline. If he makes an anticipated throw to the left just before Herndon breaks on his route, there’s a high chance for a completion.

While there were two possible options here, both required Darnold to be absolutely perfect in anticipation and pocket presence. As a head coach, you are supposed to make life easy for your quarterback on every down, something Gase badly struggles with. He rarely schemes up easy downfield completions and too often asks his quarterback to be a superhero. That play was one of the only ones in which the Jets had a shot at making something happen downfield, and Darnold had to be near-perfect if he was going to make it work.

Regarding the middle of the field, the Jets ran a ton of rub concepts to the outside; this seemed to be the centerpiece of the third and short gameplan. A rub concept derives from a bunch formation, as shown on the bottom of the screen.

In this play’s case, the “rub” is when one of the receiver “picks” the defender out of covering the flat receiver, hopefully allowing an open man. While this seems like a simple concept, it requires much execution and coaching in practice to run successfully in a game.

Breshad Perriman runs into Hogan’s defender just enough to create ample space on the flat, allowing an easy throw and catch for the first down. While this was one of the successful attempts at this specific concept, Gase soon overused it on 3rd and short, not resulting in much success despite a few completions for short gains.

Instead of attacking deep, the Jets ran a good amount of short/intermediate passes that spaced out the defense. Noticing the amount of cushion Josh Malone is given on his route, Darnold throws it where he thinks Malone will break back to the ball.

Notice the amount of anticipation Darnold has here, throwing it even before Malone makes his break. Unfortunately, Malone runs a stocky, elongated route and is late to come back to the ball, leading to a difficult catch opportunity that he does not convert. This one is on Malone for the shaky route; solid throw by Darnold.

Gase’s lack of aggression poses many question marks about how much confidence he had in Darnold and the offense as a whole. The few times that receivers had a chance to attack downfield, Darnold usually took a chance. There is little reason for Gase to be so passive.

If only the offensive play-caller would use his talented quarterback to his unique strengths.

It looked like Sam took his time in the pocket and was waiting for plays to develop in the 1st half; wherein the second half he developed happy feet and just dumped it off.  Am I correct on that? – @YKatsnelsonLaw


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