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A Run Bust

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

You likely have heard of a coverage bust on defense. This is when a missed assignment causes a receiver to go undefended.

Isiah Pacheco’s 48 yard touchdown run for Kansas City on Sunday Night Football is what I would call a run defense bust.

Every gap should be assigned to a defender against the run at the start of a play. A gap is the space between offensive linemen, tight ends, and the edge. I don’t know the exact assignments since I wasn’t in the huddle, but based on player movements, this is my educated guess on how Jets gap assignments began on the play.

Sauce Gardner is in the picture, but corners frequently aren’t given run assignments except in run support on plays that stretch way outside.

The Chiefs set up with two wide receivers to the left of the formation. The Jets have two defensive backs.

The Chiefs then send one of these men in motion.

The Jets need to get another defensive back to the other side of the field. Otherwise they won’t have enough guys over there to defend a pass.

Now you may remember Jordan Whitehead is one of the defensive backs on that side of the field. He doubles as the defender assigned the outside gap against the run.

Instead of having him run across the formation, the Jets decide to rotate their safeties. Adrian Amos, who was going to be the single high safety moves down to the right side of the field to handle the receiver while Whitehead starts to rotate back to take Amos’ role as the single high safety.

The Jets end up with a big problem, though. Whitehead’s gap becomes completely vacated.

Somebody is supposed to shift over. Because Amos is coming down to the right side of the formation, defenders will need to bump over. Maybe it’s Jamien Sherwood. Maybe it’s CJ Mosley. Maybe the entire defensive line was supposed to slide over a gap. I don’t know. The gap just has to be filled by someone.

Once the ball is handed off, the edge is left completely exposed.

Whitehead didn’t make it all the way up to the single high spot so he is close to the play, but he has to come from an awkward angle and take on a block from a guard. That’s not an ideal things for a safety.

Pacheco ends up off to the races.

In the past week I’ve spoken a lot about the need for playcalling to put stress on the opposing defense. This is a good example. Simple motion forced the Jets to shift on defense, and they ended up busting their assignments.

Don’t get me wrong, though. When we talk about a bust like this, there’s more bad from the Jets than good from Kansas City. Adjusting to motion should be a given. There’s a reason you don’t see many 48 yard runs come just from putting a receiver into motion.

It was just one part of a nightmare first quarter on Sunday night.