Sometimes a small adjustment can make all the difference in the world. The Jets learned this the hard way in their Week 14 loss to the Bills.
On second and ten late in the fourth quarter, the Jets are showing blitz with five defenders at the line of scrimmage.
Jordan Whitehead is lined up over Stefon Diggs in the slot. If the Jets do blitz, Whitehead will likely be on Diggs.
The Jets are essentially trying to bait a short throw to Diggs. With Whitehead lined up deep, Diggs has the illusion of being open. Against the blitz, you want to get the ball out quickly so Josh Allen hits him.
Whitehead, however, is driving on the ball.
Fast forward to the third quarter. It is a similar situation, second and twelve. The Jets once again show blitz.
The Bills have once again gone to an empty set with Whitehead over Diggs.
This time the Bills send Diggs on a route that begins to break inside. Whitehead drives on him.
Then Diggs breaks outside. Whitehead is slow to recover since he is driving on the inside breaking route.
This turns into a 32 yard gain, Diggs’ biggest gain on an otherwise quiet game and an important play on a touchdown drive that puts the Bills ahead for good.
You might be wondering, “Why did the Jets put Jordan Whitehead on Stefon Diggs?”
Well that wasn’t the plan. The idea was for the blitz to get to Allen. Whitehead should be able to stay with most slot receivers for a short stretch, which is all that should be required if the blitz gets home. Like the first play, there is also an element of the Jets trying to bait a short throw so that Whitehead can get up and make a tackle to minimize the gain.
That said, the Bills had previously used Diggs in the slot in the same situation. It seems fair to say Jeff Ulbrich should have anticipated the mismatch and the adjustment that would come.
In a game of adjustments, this round went to Buffalo