DeAnthony Thomas was a fourth round pick of the Chiefs this year. At 5'10" and 176 pounds he's not really an every down guy in the NFL. He profiles as a return guy and movable chess piece who can be explosive in space. On Sunday he made a pair of big plays in space that helped sink the Jets. Let's take a look at them.
Thomas' 26 yard run on the first drive of the game helped set up a Kansas City touchdown and set the tone of the game.
Kansas City simply brings him in motion moving to the right. At the snap they are going to hand it off to him. They are going to fake a pitch left to Jamaal Charles to get everybody flowing in the wrong direction. The run blockers will sell it by flowing left. This will leave the end defender on the right side, Quinton Coples unblocked. It will be up to Thomas to beat Coples.
Because of the way the Jets are lined up, there is plenty of open field to the right, where Thomas is running. The linebackers are shaded right. The only defender other than Coples on the right in a position to make a play is Dawan Landry, and tight end Anthony Fasano's job is to block him. This leaves a one on one between Thomas and Coples.
Here you can see the fake pitch to Charles and the defense flowing to him. The defense respects Charles. You can see Fasano and Landry in red, and the Coples-Thomas matchup in blue.
Thomas blows past Coples. Landry is obstructed by Fasano, and the other guys who could stop it are run out of the way by the fake. It's a 26 yard gain to put Kansas City into the red zone.
The Jets got and outexecuted here and outschemed. Can you get on Coples? I'm not sure. Thomas is a really difficult matchup one on one for a big lineman. On the other hand, this type of play seems emblematic of Coples' inability to provide the type of game-changing plays the Jets need from a first round pick.
In the second quarter the Jets scored to cut a 14 point deficit in half. Their momentum lasted until the ensuing kickoff, which Thomas returned 78 yards to set up another touchdown.
It looks like it's opened up by guys getting out of their lanes.
Problem 1: Bilal Powell charges too hard to the inside.
Problem 2: T.J. Graham is the outside guy. He needs to make sure Thomas cannot get outside of him, but he comes in at too sharp of an angle and leaves Thomas plenty of open space on the outside. In the second picture Graham and Powell are both circled so you can see how far inside Powell gets caught.
It does appear the Chiefs are setting this up for Thomas to go to his right. It's possible they were trying to fake the Jets, or it's possible Thomas just saw how open things were going left. That brings us to problem 3.
Problem 3: Kyle Wilson overruns the play. Wilson was trailing the play because he had to hold on the kickoff. When he sees Thomas cut to the outside, he runs too far outside, leaving a gaping lane for Thomas to run through.
And that, friends, is how DeAnthony Thomas made big plays to beat the Jets.