We went over how the Jets defense allowed a long touchdown against the run in Week 4. Now let’s focus on the long passing touchdown they surrendered. This play is more straightforward but just as much of a defensive bust.
The Jets are playing man coverage here.
Notably on this third and 2 play, the Jets have Sauce Gardner on Travis Kelce (yellow). Jordan Whitehead is originally lined up on Noah Gray (orange).
Kelce runs a shallow route across the field.
Because of how tightly the receivers were aligned, this is a difficult cover for Sauce. He had to give a fair amount of cushion on the play to avoid being caught up in traffic on an inside breaking route.
This cushion still makes it very difficult for him to cover a short crossing route.
Whitehead is in better position to take it, but his assignment seems to be Gray. If the Jets are going to switch Whitehead onto Kelce, Gardner needs to switch to Gray. He ends up not really being in position for that, though, because he drifted inside following Kelce.
Gray ends up wide open for an easy touchdown.
I honestly don’t know which of the two defenders is to blame for this bust. It depends on how the coaches teach handling a situation like this. It also might be a read the players need to call out themselves like switching on a pick and roll in basketball.
On coverage busts, I always watch how players react after the play is over. If one player is overly demonstrative, it can be a sign that he was the one who blew the assignment, and he knows it.
At the end of this particular play, Gardner and Whitehead seem to be arguing. It’s clear there was miscommunication. Whitehead thought they were switching. Gardner did not. If I had to venture a guess, I would say Sauce is culpable. This play is a much easier cover with a switch, and you definitely don’t want to leave Kelce open. I can’t say that with a ton of conviction, though. I don’t know whether there was a lack of communication or how the Jets coach this. Sauce definitely followed Kelce hard so he wasn’t really in position to help on Gray by the end.
The end result either way was an early 17-0 deficit.