Yesterday we broke down two touchdowns the Buffalo Bills scored on the New York Jets in Week 11. Let’s go over the third.
The Jets are only rushing three men. Quinton Jefferson drops from defensive tackle into a short zone. The Jets defensively have five men clogging the passing lanes underneath and the deep part of the field divided into thirds with Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed on the outside and Jordan Whitehead in the middle.
A play like this requires a quarterback to be patient. There are eight defenders in coverage, which will make windows tight early in the play. However, since there are only three pass rushers the quarterback should have time to wait for something to develop and a hole to appear in the defense.
Allen looks left at the start of the play, and indeed there’s not much happening for Buffalo. The Jets have both receivers on that side of the field covered.
Allen then progresses to the middle of the field. Tight end Dalton Kincaid’s route turns horizontal. Again the Jets have the passing lanes clogged. Kincaid’s route does, however, draw the attention of Jordan Whitehead playing the deep middle.
Allen then progresses to Khalill Shakir who is running a deep route from the slot. With Whitehead out of the picture, coverage falls to Sauce Gardner. This isn’t an easy cover for Sauce because he’s starting from the outside, and Shakir was aligned inside at the snap.
Sauce attempts to undercut the route by taking a sharp angle. He is going for the interception. With a more conservative approach to Shakir, he likely would have been in position to break up the pass.
How much criticism does Sauce deserve for gambling? I would say very little. Context matters. The game was past the halfway point of the third quarter. The Jets were down 22-6, technically only down two scores but barely hanging on. The offense was doing nothing. Somebody needed to provide a game changing play, and it probably had to come on the defense. You can criticize Sauce for not picking the pass off, but I can’t fault the mindset of gambling there.
Unfortunately a big play turns into a catastrophe for the Jets as Whitehead takes a bad angle to Shakir, and Sauce and Brandin Echols fail to corral the tackle.
A lot of credit goes to Buffalo here. Allen needed to be patient, and he was. He got to either his third or fourth read on the play and delivered a pass on the money. The play call was also an effective one against the coverage the Jets were running. The Jets didn’t execute the way they needed to, and the game was blown open.