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How Sam Darnold will read defenses in Adam Gase’s system

NFL: New York Jets at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll admit that the the title is a little misleading. There are various types of reads Sam Darnold will have to make in the new offense the Jets will run, and we are only looking at one. Additionally plays like this are run in offenses across the league, not just in Adam Gase’s system.

With all of that in mind, we are going to look at one type of read Darnold will make.

There are some passing plays where the offense puts a route combination on one side of the field to beat a certain defensive look and a different route combination on the other side of the field to be a different look. It is up to the quarterback to read the defense to pick his best option.

More often that not, it has to do with whether the defense plays one or two safeties deep.

On this particular play, Gase’s Dolphins had a route combination to beat a two safety look on the quarterback’s right side (top of the picture). You can see what a standard two deep safety defensive look might look like.

Both the outside receiver and the slot receiver would run routes breaking to the middle of the field. The slot receiver’s route would be a dig that would take him deeper down the field. As a side note, this was one of Peyton Manning’s favorite passing concepts.

Manning frequently used the shallow receiver as his first read and progressed to the deeper receiver as his second read, but more often a quarterback will read high to low so the deeper receiver will be his first read.

Now let’s show why this works against the two deep safety look. If the first read slot receiver is covered on his deeper route, the vertical early part of his route is going to push the deep safety on his side of the field back, and the horizontal part of the route is going to force the linebacker covering that zone to move inside.

This will create a passing window for the second option in the quarterback’s progression.

On the other side is a route combination to beat a defense with one safety deep. A common coverage with one deep safety is the deep part of the field being split into thirds assigned to that safety and the two outside corners.

The route combination here is a vertical route by the outside receiver and a pair of shallow routes breaking to the outside.

The first read would probably be the vertical route. If the receiver gets a step, or even if the quarterback likes the matchup he can let it fly.

If that doesn’t work, the first receiver is at least forcing that outside corner to run with him down the field.

The space in the flat where that corner is no longer occupying will now be open for the second receiver in the progression to take his route.

And he will draw a defender with him.

This in turn will open up space where the third receiver in the progression is running.

It is up to the quarterback to read the safeties properly. Prior to the start of the play, the defense’s look is ambiguous so the signal caller must quickly identify the defensive look at the snap and then find the open receiver.

Below you can see how this actually worked. The defense rolled into a one safety look. The quarterback read it, looked the correct way, and eventually found his third option from the space created by the route combination built to beat that defensive call.