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Sam Darnold against the Falcons: Second and third drives

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NFL: Preseason-New York Jets at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of days ago we looked at Sam Darnold’s passing attempts on the first drive of last week’s preseason game against the Falcons. Now let’s look at the remainder of his attempts from the game.

1st and 10; NYJ 42; 6:11 1st quarter

The Jets spread the field with an empty backfield shotgun formation. The Falcons are lined up in a Cover 3. The deep part of the field is divided into three areas split among the middle safety and two outside corners. The underneath part of the field is divided among four zones.

Robby Anderson is running a short hitch route. Desmond Trufant is the closest corner near Anderson, but he is responsible for the deep zone. His biggest job is to not get beaten over the top so he plays it conservatively, offering a big cushion. This type of soft coverage is very vulnerable to a hitch.

In theory this route could be challenged by the underneath defender in Anderson’s zone, but he is occupied by Quincy Enunwa’s route so the window is huge.

Anderson’s prolific deep ball ability is going to lead to a lot of big cushions like this. This route is going to be open all day for the Jets this year. A play like this might not be a game changer, but a 6 yard completion on first down is a win for the offense.

2nd and 4; NYJ 48; 5:48 1st quarter

On the next play the Falcons once again offer a Cover 3 defense.

(Note: It’s probably obvious, but these zones aren’t actually drawn to scale. I’m just trying to make the assignments as simple as possible to understand.)

The Jets work a slant/flat route combination on the bottom of the picture. Ty Montgomery is running the route into the flat.

This occupies Keanu Neal, who is responsible for the underneath zone in the flat. He has to move to Montgomery, which opens up a passing window on the slant to Enunwa.

Unfortunately for the Jets, Trufant, one of the corners who has a deep zone is able to break on the ball and knock it away.

Some plays fail because your guy executes poorly. Others fail because the opponent’s execution is great. This was a little of both. Either guy could have made the play. Trufant outfought Enunwa. The team that wins more of these plays that are up for grabs tends to win games.

3rd and 1; 50 yard line; 14:18 2nd quarter

On this play the Jets fake a run flowing in the direction of the bottom of the picture, while slipping Enunwa in the direction of the top.

Trufant is the guy covering Enunwa. This play comes down to him. The hope is that on a third and 1 he will bite hard trying to stop the run and leave Enunwa occupied.

If he doesn’t, Trufant still has a ton of ground to cover since Enunwa is running to the other side of the field. On this play he identifies it correctly and gets to Enunwa to make a tackle for a 1 yard loss.

I would file the one in the great execution by the opponent category. It’s a great job by Trufant recognizing the play and closing that much ground so quickly.

I still like the playcall. If the Jets run this play frequently on a third and 1 a lot of corners will bite on the run, and Enunwa will have a lot of open field in front of him. It just didn’t work here.