Why did the Jets keep leaving Stefon Diggs with one on one matchups?
That was probably the most-asked question in the Jets fanbase on Sunday as Buffalo’s star receiver feasted on the Jets secondary to the tune of 8 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown. Much of the damage was done when he was left alone against Brandin Echols and Javelin Guidry.
Why didn’t the Jets do more to avoid these matchups? It’s a fair question. I think there were some situations where leaving Diggs one on one against these corners was poor planning. That said, finding a scheme that works with the Jets’ current personnel is easier said than done.
I can show you what happened when the Jets didn’t leave Diggs isolated against a cornerback.
On Buffalo’s first touchdown early in the opening quarter, the Jets paid extra attention to Diggs.
Brandin Echols is up in Diggs’ face.
On his way to Matt Breida, Jarrad Davis gives Diggs a bump.
However, this bump allows Breida to get a few steps on Davis, and he’s wide open for a touchdown.
I can’t say precisely what the assignments were here. The Jets are playing zone on the other side of the formation. It’s possible Brandin Echols was responsible for the deep part of the field, which is where Breida released. It’s also possible the Jets were playing some version of man on this side of the field. Based on the way Davis is watching Breida from the snap and keeps moving toward him, that’s my guess.
Either way, the Jets were paying Diggs a ton of attention, and it opened things up for somebody else.
On this play Diggs runs a 10 yard route.
On this one Guidry appears to have help inside from Ashtyn Davis.
However, Gabriel Davis is breaking open deep across the field. This might be the part of the field Ashtyn Davis is accountable for, but he is focused on Diggs and not in position to help.
Again I don’t know the call. It’s possible Ashtyn Davis was supposed to have this deep. It’s also possible Jarrod Wilson, the deep safety Gabriel Davis ran away from, was supposed to carry the route. Either way again the Jets paying Diggs so much attention opened up something for somebody else.
On this last play Diggs is working out of the slot.
The Jets are in their base Cover 3.
One of the advantages of zone coverage is that you aren’t leaving one on ones across the entire field. When a receiver enters a zone, a new player is there to pick him up.
The disadvantage is sometimes the player who ultimately picks up the receiver is not a good matchup.
That’s what happens here as Diggs enters Sharrod Neasman’s zone and ends up matching up with the safety.
It is also worth noting that Javelin Guidry, who would be responsible in a Cover 3 for the deep part of the field where Diggs runs into, follows the original man in his area across the field, vacating the deep part.
Again I can’t say for sure this is necessarily Guidry’s fault. There are situations where a team might have a player in Guidry’s role convert his coverage into man, in which case he would follow his original receiver across the field, and it would be the safety’s job to carry Diggs. Either way, this isn’t great recognition, communication, or execution by the Jets. It is especially frustrating to see as Jets coaches have stated their philosophy is to run a simple system so that players can understand their role in all situations. However, over the last few weeks there have been numerous examples of players not being in the right spot.
But let’s get back to the bigger point here. I think there are some situations in the game where the Jets leaving Diggs one on one was a questionable decision. That said, I think these calls are getting too much of the blame. You can’t really blame the coaches for leaving Diggs one on one too frequently when the Jets also couldn’t effectively execute on plays where they either paid him a lot of attention or at least didn't leave him one on one.
Now if you want to criticize the coaches because of the inability to execute I can agree to a certain extent. However, the bigger issue here certainly looks like the lack of talent on this defense to me. No matter what the defensive calls on Diggs were, nothing worked on Sunday.