As I was watching the Charles Johnson touchdown in the first quarter, I asked myself how it could be so easy to get that kind of match-up on the outside with Walls with no safety help. One aspect I loved to Teddy Bridgewater's game coming out of Louisville was his deep ball placement, and this placement was spot on. So I thought I'd take a look at the play to see what happened.
There are four key people in on this play. Johnson on the outside and the slot receiver inside. Then we have Darrin Walls circled in black and Calvin Pryor is circled in Yellow. Right now Walls has a good cushion to play any deep balls and Pryor has the range to help if needed. We're fortunate in that we know where the ball is going to go.
I give props to the Minnesota Vikings here on the play call to clear out the safety and leave single coverage on the outside with Walls, a player they know to be no more than a back-up and nickel man. Here is what happens:
Johnson runs a go route on the outside closing the gap on Walls quickly. Walls is slow to flip his hips and instantly he's playing catch-up to the speedy Johnson. The slot receiver runs an in route, deep enough for the linebacker to pass him on but shallow enough that Pryor has to come up and play the slot receiver who's found the perfect depth in the coverage to sit down.
Teddy looks inside which brings Pryor to his responsibility coverage and leaves Walls exposed on the outside. Jarrett is too far away to make any difference in this play. Walls has been soundly beaten on the outside, and Teddy spots the ball perfectly, leading the receiver inside for an easy catch and run for a touchdown. The slot receiver ran a good clearing route to force the Jets to play single coverage on the outside and Teddy picked the match-up he liked and let it go.
Could the linebacker have dropped deeper? He had his zone coverage responsibilities and released the slot receiver when he turned downfield, this is very normal. As a result the safety had absolutely no choice but to move up into the middle of the field and take on the slot, forcing single coverage on the outside with Walls. Could Pryor have passed this receiver onto Jarrett and doubled Johnson overing safety help over the top? In hindsight that probably would have saved the touchdown. However we don't know what the call was and if everyone fulfilled their responsibility. The slot man did his job, Johnson did his job, the pass protection held up and Teddy delivered a pin-point pass.