The safety position might be the most difficult in football to judge solely from the camera angles shown on television. So much of what happens at the position happens out of view.
I think this probably played into the backlash the Jets received this spring when they used their top two Draft picks on safeties. You just don’t think much about safeties during games, even if they do play important roles on defense, and the position has long been an Achilles heel of the Jets.
It is amazing to say in a game where the Jets were shredded defensively by the Raiders, but it would have been worse without the play of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye on Sunday. I thought both turned in strong games when I rewatched the game.
I will begin this with one caveat. Maye bears some responsibility for Jalen Richard’s long touchdown run.
Maye overpursued the play and left a huge lane for Richard to run. Of course, the blame might go more to Demario Davis who was wiped out and shoved into Maye by a blocker.
As we discussed yesterday, Adams made a really nice play and set Darron Lee up for an easy cleanup tackle which Lee did not make. So even this play wasn’t a total disaster for the rookie safeties.
That play aside, there was a lot to like. Neither safety was in position to make a tackle on Cordarrelle Patterson’s long touchdown run. The Jets were outschemed on that play, and Adams and Maye were taken out of the picture. As it was, Adams still almost ran Patterson down.
The Jets might thank their safeties that they avoided even more breakdowns like those two.
Our friend Connor Rodgers did a great job showing how much ground Adams covers. He went all the way across the formation on this play to catch a runner and save a touchdown after his teammates could not make a tackle.
Such great relentless pursuit and effort to save a TD from Jamal Adams on this play: pic.twitter.com/ndKWMMH1fJ— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) September 19, 2017
Simply put, that was a ridiculous play.
And there were other positive moments from the rookie safety duo.
It isn’t exactly enviable to be one on one in the open field against Marshawn Lynch as the last thing standing between him and the end zone. Maye saved a touchdown, though, after the Jets defensive front got wiped out to spring Lynch.
Two plays later the Jets suffered a bust in coverage because Darron Lee bit hard on play action and didn’t cover his man, Jared Cook as the tight end went out on his route as a result.
The Jets were in some real trouble because Morris Claiborne was being blocked (red circle).
Fortunately for the Jets, Maye covered a lot of ground quickly, flew into the play, and minimized the gain.
Later in the first half, Maye again had to make an open field tackle on a completion that happened because Lee didn’t carry Michael Crabtree deep enough in his zone.
Moving back to Mr. Adams, Freddie Bishop was supposed to set the edge on this play. You can see how effective he was at setting that edge on this Marshawn Lynch handoff.
Darron Lee ended up getting blocked fairly easily, leaving Lynch a nice lane to cut through to avoid Adams.
Adams actually went around the blocked Lee to make this tackle.
This was a successful first down play for Oakland, but it wasn’t a catastrophic play. That as much as anything describes the role of the safety on many plays. When everything breaks down, don’t let catastrophe strike. The safeties on the Jets failed frequently a year ago at this task.
Speaking of bailing out a teammate, here is another play Maye made. The Jets are playing man coverage on this play. The Raiders have two receivers on the bottom of the picture. After watching it over and over, I think Maye’s job was to take a receiver who ran a vertical route, while Burris’ job was to cover any short route to the flat or sideline.
Carr got the ball out quickly to Michael Crabtree in the flat who had a block on the outside on Burris and daylight in front of him.
Look at the ground Maye covered to make the tackle and again save the day even though I believe Burris was supposed to handle the flat.
There isn’t much good news about this football team, but at least the two young safeties are doing their jobs.