We're going to continue today's analysis with some things you might not have noticed from yesterday's loss to the Colts:
It's the pieces!
It's little wonder Sam Darnold struggled so badly with players like Charone Peake and Andre Roberts playing so many snaps. Or is it?
While Peake was 100 percent to blame for Darnold's final interception, he only played nine snaps. In fact, Peake and Deontay Burnett played just three snaps between them before the fourth quarter and obviously Darnold's struggles had begun long before then. Even Roberts was on the field for fewer than half of Darnold's 42 pass attempts.
Nevertheless, there were some signs that Darnold and his receivers weren't necessarily on the same page. There seemed to be a few plays where they got their wires crossed as Darnold threw the ball to an area which suggested he expected the reciver to adjust to the coverage. That's not necessarily something that fits with the precision route-running of a west coast offense, but the Jets obviously build in some flexibility for that kind of thing and Darnold expects it from his receivers.
Here's an example of that. If Roberts had run a whip route to the outside, he'd have been open for an easy first down and Darnold puts it in the right spot. Maybe that's not what the play design calls for, but Darnold seemed to expect Roberts to react to the situation. However, he stopped his route and didn't break back to the outside:
Ultimately, Darnold was a miserable 6-for-20 when targeting his wide receivers, but that included 3-for-12 to his starters, so you can't blame it all on the depth players.
This week afforded us our first look at the recently-acquired pass rusher Tarell Basham. He didn't make a great start as he was offside on the opening kickoff. However, he got some rotational work on defense.
While he only rotated in for three series, he was able to show one flash of what he brings to the table:
On the play, he beats the right tackle around the edge and gets a hit on Kirk Cousins as he's releasing his third down pass. Darryl Roberts cleans up with a tackle short of the marker to force the punt.
Basham didn't otherwise get close as they mostly threw quick passes when he was in the game, but he worked hard and hustled to get in on a couple of tackles.
Things aren't always as they seem
At first glance, the fumbled exchange between Darnold and Isaiah Crowell was a major missed opportunity. Down 10-7 and near midfield midway through the second quarter, Crowell would have had a chance to break a big gain as you can see here:
However, this is nothing more than an optical illusion. By the time Crowell would have hit the hole, it would have been completely plugged up. This is actually an example of a poorly blocked play from the Jets' standpoint.
You can see from the image that Brian Winters has one defensive tackle sealed and Spencer Long and James Carpenter are sealing off the other defensive tackle with a double-team block. This appears to open up a big running lane.
However, the Vikings are running a game on the defensive line with the end stunting underneath. The tackle has allowed himself to be sealed off by Winters because this means he can block off Brandon Shell from slowing up the end. Winters has to vacate his block to pick up the defensive end, which soon causes the apparent lane to close.
On the other side, Long needs to push off the double team and get to Eric Kendricks at the second level, otherwise he's going to fill that lane too. He doesn't manage to do this either.
It seems highly likely that Crowell would have been stuffed near the line again, as he was on all but two of his carries. The Jets clearly still have some sharpening up to do in their running game.
The turning point
Down by 10 late in the third quarter, the Jets missed a golden opportunity to get themselves right back in the game when Parry Nickerson didn't realize until it was too late that Cousins had thrown a lateral into the dirt and it was still a live ball.
As you can see, Nickerson would have at worst set the Jets up in field goal range if he recovered the ball there and probably could have scooped-and-scored if he reacted immediately:
This was a shocking error from Cousins, reminiscent of something that happened to Chad Pennington in the 2006 wild card game in New England. The Vikings got lucky here and instead of a one-score game going into in the fourth quarter, they were able to score 17 more points to turn it into a comfortable 20-point win.
Much more analysis to come later today and over the next few days. Please let us know who you'd like to see us feature in more detail in 3-on-D and 3-on-O.