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The critical Jets bust in coverage on 3rd and 19 might not have been Jamal Adams’ fault

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Late in the fourth quarter of yesterday’s loss to the Dolphins, Miami was able to convert a critical 3rd and 19 play to extend the drive that eventually allowed them to run out the clock.

Nobody covered Frank Gore as he released into a route out of the backfield. and he was able to scamper for a first down. On CBS, analyst Rich Gannon called out Jets safety Jamal Adams as the culprit in the bust.

After rewatching the play several times, evidence suggests Gore might not have been Adams’ assignment.

In the presnap alignment, Mike Gesicki begins in the slot. Adams is there with him. Gesicki then motions inside and Adams follows him. This suggests Adams’ man in coverage is Gesicki.

Then as Gore releases into his snap after the route, he runs right past Adams, but Adams doesn’t even flinch.

If Adams was assigned to Gore it would stand to reason that he would have at least reacted late and made a futile attempt to run after him.

I’m not in the huddle. It’s possible the presnap look was a disguise to bait the Dolphins into thinking Adams had Gesicki when he really didn’t. It is also possible that Adams was supposed to take the first guy who slipped into a route to the left side of the formation but forgot.

But something just doesn’t add up on this play.

Doug Middleton is playing Cover 1 in the deep middle. There are six blitzers if we don’t include Adams.

If you do the math, that makes seven defenders. That leaves only four guys in coverage including Adams. There are five eligible receivers on any given passing play. For all the Jets knew at the snap, both Gore and Gesicki could have released into routes. The way the Jets sent six and left Middleton deep meant a receiver was going to be uncovered.

Was Middleton supposed to play man to man on Gore instead of Cover 1 deep? Were either Avery Williamson or Darron Lee (or both) supposed to account for the back before blitzing? It might make some sense if Gore was supposed to be picked up by the linebacker on the side he released into his route. He began on Williamson’s side but eventually released into his route on Lee’s side. It is possible Lee blitzed not realizing Gore would move into his area.

Ultimately it seems like one of the four of Middleton, Lee, Williamson, or Adams blew the coverage. Busts like this are so bad that it is often difficult to identify exactlywhat should have happened. Based on what we saw, though, it seems to me like Adams is the least likely culprit of the four.

Adams took responsibility after the game.

“Put it on me,” said free safety Jamal Adams. “I was responsible. Put it on me.”

That admission took some prodding of Adams, who, at first, tried to spread the blame on the entire defense.

To me, however, that reads like he covering for a teammate. The initial response of blaming the defense as a unit looks like an attempt to avoid pointing the finger at the guilty party, and then he just decided to take the hit himself.

Todd Bowles was even more evasive in his postgame press conference.

On the Miami 3-and-19 conversion…

Somebody missed a pick-up.

On if that is inexcusable on 3-and-19 to not pick up Frank Gore out of the backfield…

It’s always inexcusable.

On if that player will be reprimanded or benched…

We’ll move on. We’ll move on.

Bowles is a good place to finish because ultimately I put as much of the blame for this play on the head coach as I put on the defender who was supposed to cover Gore.

I have a huge problem with an aggressive blitz call and man to man across the board in that spot. Ryan Tannehill had shown zero ability to stand in the pocket, make complex reads, and deliver the ball down the field to that point. The Jets had just knocked the Dolphins out of field goal range with back to back negative plays. Even a modest 6-7 yard gain probably forces the Dolphins to punt, which is the goal for the Jets. That is not the time for a high risk defensive playcall. This call left the Jets vulnerable to the big play when the big play was the only thing they could not afford. Everything from a guy slipping to a well-timed screen to the blown coverage checkdown could mean a cheap first down. If the Dolphins execute a great play and earn a first down, you tip your cap and live with it. You don’t want to just hand a key first down to them, though.

Yes, players need to ultimately execute, but that call maximized the odds of a breakdown at a point where the Jets could have lived with anything other than a breakdown.