Where did it all go long? (Part Two)

Here is part two of our analysis into the Jets giving up big plays last year. In part one yesterday (which you can review here), we noted that the Jets were among the league leaders, but surprisingly not ahead of the pack. We also looked at when these plays tended to take place.

Today, we recap each of the 14 40+ yard plays the Jets gave up last year and try to apportion blame.

Disclaimer: In some places it's not going to be immediately apparent who was at fault, so we will be required to speculate. Feel free to suggest an alternative version of events if you want to debate any of the following plays further in the comments.

Play #1 - Week 1 v Bengals. CJ Uzomah 54-yard gain

This is the only play we don't have a gif for, but you can view a video of it here.

Who is to blame?

The pass rushers get a pass here because this is a quick throw off a three-step drop.

Darron Lee is beaten for the first down catch and you can see a momentary hesitation as he looks back towards the quarterback and can't recover. However, what turns this into a big gain is that Marcus Williams (ignore the announcer who wrongly blames Calvin Pryor) tries and fails to jump the route and doesn't even lay a hit on the receiver, whiffing completely on ball and man.

Verdict: Lee 50%, Williams 50%

Play #2 and #3 - Week 1 v Bengals. AJ Green 54 yard touchdown and Brandon LaFell 49-yard gain.


Who is to blame on the Green touchdown?

Once again the pass rush doesn't really deserve much blame here. Rushing four against six blockers, both Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams almost beat their man but couldn't prevent the throw. Maybe someone could've got there quicker, so let's give them a token 5% of the blame.

Initially this looks like it's totally Revis' fault, but actually the replay shows that Marcus Gilchrist is at fault and he admitted as much after the game.

However, the main cause of this mix-up is pre-snap confusion. Clearly Gilchrist is expecting Marcus Williams to track his man across the field and when he doesn't this leaves him potentially wide open underneath. Gilchrist reacts to this but then that leaves him flat footed and unable to recover to the deep middle. Revis has deliberately allowed a clean inside release because he appears to be expecting help from the inside.

It seems fair to assign most of the blame to Gilchrist, especially since if Williams or Revis missed a sign or a call, that's part of Gilchrist's job. However, both cornerbacks played their part in the failure here.

Verdict: Pass rush 5%, Gilchrist 45%, Revis 25%, Williams 25%

Who is to blame on the LaFell catch?

This was on third-and-18 and saw Williams beaten over the top in a cover zero situation while the Jets flooded the zone over the middle of the field.

I don't think we can attribute any blame to the safeties on this play because they were aligned too far away to support on a long throw down the sideline. Once again it's a four-on-six pass rush with no pressure, so we'll allocate another 5% to that.

It's worth noting that LaFell got away with a push-off, so let's also account for that.

Verdict: Pass rush 5%, Luck/injustice 10%, Williams 85%

Play #4 and #5 - Week 2 at Bills. Marquise Goodwin 84-yard touchdown and Greg Salas 71-yard touchdown.


Who is to blame on the Goodwin touchdown?

This play came on 3rd-and-12 and the Jets were almost baiting the Bills to challenge Revis. He's out there in a cover-zero situation with the Jets sending just four rushers against a max-protection scheme.

He gets burned here, pure and simple. I don't think you can justify giving anyone else a share of the blame.

Verdict: Revis 100%

Who is to blame on the Salas touchdown?

The pass rush definitely doesn't get the blame here, as Leonard Williams splits a double-team to flush Tyrod Taylor from the pocket. The Jets had only sent three rushers, because you can tell Wilkerson is simply keying Taylor on 3rd-and-6 (something he's done successfully in the past).

The second angle gives us a better idea of what went wrong in the secondary. At first glance, Rontez Miles thinks Taylor is going to target Salas at the sticks, tries to jump the route to break it up and then when the pass isn't thrown, he realizes Salas has leaked downfield and can't recover.

This seems pretty clear-cut, although it's possible this is supposed to be a quarters-style coverage and that Buster Skrine is actually responsible for the deep quarter down that seam. Skrine seems to linger about in no-mans land and certainly doesn't make any kind of reaction to the situation in front of him. If that's the case and Miles was left to freestyle on the play, then Skrine might actually be the one most at fault. However, it's perhaps more likely Miles was responsible for the deep middle and went into business for himself while Skrine was required to stay out in that flat so he could contain Taylor if he tried to run that way.

I still lean towards this being Miles' fault, but keep this in the back of your mind because it will become relevant again further down.

Verdict: Miles 90%, Skrine 10%

Play #6 - Week 3 at Chiefs. Travis Kelce 42-yard gain


Who is to blame?

This is another quick throw, released in under 2.5 seconds, but the pocket holds up well, so let's give partial blame to the pass rush again.

Pryor is tasked with covering Kelce on the outside and is a step off due to a sharp break on the slant route from the Chiefs tight end. Incidentally, I wouldn't give any blame to Lee on this play, as he follows his assignment out into the flat and gives Pryor enough room that he isn't interfering with his ability to cover Kelce.

Most of these yards come after the catch with Pryor trailing Kelce across the field and Gilchrist getting over a little late so that Kelce's momentum can drive him ahead for about 10 extra yards.

Verdict: Pryor 70%, Gilchrist 30%

Play #7 and #8 - Week 4 v Seahawks. Doug Baldwin 43-yard gain and Tanner McEvoy 42-yard touchdown.


Who is to blame on the Baldwin catch?

The pass rush does its job here, as Sheldon Richardson gets pressure on Wilson in a five-on-five rush where two other blockers helped out with chips. However, Wilkerson vacates the left side of the line, either on a designed stunt or because he's anticipating a run. This allows Russell Wilson the room to step up and make the throw. So, there is some blame for the pass rush here, albeit perhaps more of a schematic flaw than an individual mistake.

Gilchrist starts off covering Baldwin across the field, but Pryor is the closest defender by the time he catches the ball. Whether Pryor was supposed to pick Baldwin up in such a situation is impossible to determine so we'll have to share the blame between them.

Verdict: Pass rush 20%, Gilchrist 40%, Pryor 40%

Who is to blame on the McEvoy touchdown?

This is one of the worst plays of the year as McEvoy is completely uncovered for an easy touchdown. Once again, the pass rush generates pressure as Richardson forces Wilson to step up despite only four rushing against a max-protection scheme.

Gilchrist starts off matched up against McEvoy, but he immediately bails out to cover the outside on the left side. Clearly this is what he was supposed to do, but he may have failed to communicate that message to one or more of his cohorts in the secondary.

It looks like Calvin Pryor is at fault because he's sitting deep in the middle of the field and face-plants to the turf as McEvoy runs past him. However, it may not be as simple as that. Pryor clearly isn't expecting to have to pick up McEvoy, only to then see the danger and try to recover in his direction. That's what causes him to slip.

So, who would have been responsible for that deep half of the field? The linebackers drop into the middle of the field, but that wouldn't be something they'd be tasked with. Once more, we have to shine the lens on Skrine who once again looks pretty lost in no-mans land. Again, maybe he's sitting out there because of the threat of a running quarterback, but everyone else's reaction suggests this is a thirds-type zone coverage in which case he should have dropped off and picked up McEvoy as he cut across the field.

Again, we're speculating here, but since we let him off lightly last time, let's give Skrine a bigger share of the blame this time and hope we're somewhere on the right lines overall.

Verdict: Gilchrist 10%, Skrine 50%, Pryor 40%

Play #9 - Week 5 v Steelers. Sammie Coates 72-yard touchdown


Who is to blame?

This throw was made on about 2.6 seconds. In a four-on-five rush Wilkerson had beaten his man and almost got to Ben Roethlisberger, but was just a half-step too late to disrupt the throw. He might have made it, had he not been required to first chip a receiver at the line. Again, we're going to assign partial blame to the pass rush, albeit due to a schematic flaw.

Once the throw is made, it seems simple enough to determine who was at fault, as Williams is the player burned for the long touchdown. There seems to be some momentary confusion between Lee and Roberts in terms of who should get the guy in the flat, but that shouldn't have affected Williams' role on the play. At deep safety, it seems Pryor was always too far away to offer any support but it's possible he may have aligned himself incorrectly.

Verdict: Pass rush 5%, Lee 5%, Roberts 5%, Pryor 10%, Williams 75%

Play #10 - Week 7 v Ravens. Mike Wallace 53-yard catch


Who is to blame?

Joe Flacco has over three seconds to get this one off, but you can't really blame the pass rush this time because it's four players rushing against max-protect and Steve McLendon does eventually generate pressure.

This is just a great throw by Flacco, as Skrine is beaten by half a step and Pryor is half a step late getting over. Let's account for that in the final outcome.

Verdict: Skrine 50%, Pryor 40%, Luck/injustice 10%

Play #11 - Week 10 v Rams. Kenny Britt 46-yard catch


Who is to blame?

As you can see, the frequency has started to tail off a bit now. On this play, the Rams left six in to block. The Jets sent six, albeit one was on a delayed rush, and Richardson generated pressure as the throw was made on about 2.7 seconds.

Once again, Revis is burned over the top here. It's difficult to blame the safety much because Gilchrist still gets over in time to get in on the tackle.

Verdict: Gilchrist 10%, Revis 90%

Play #12 and #13 - Week 15 v Dolphins. Kenny Stills 52-yard touchdown and Jarvis Landry 66-yard touchdown.


Who is to blame on the Stills touchdown?

The Jets basically send an eight man rush here. While the pressure does get to the quarterback, it's not enough to prevent a good throw after about 2.7 seconds and therefore we must again assign some blame to the pass rush in terms of the defensive play selection.

This looks to be a clear case of Juston Burris being left on an island and getting burned. From film study at the time, it was clear that Burris hesitated slightly as Doug Middleton followed his receiver to the outside so there may have been a communication issue between those two.

Verdict: Pass rush 20%, Burris 70%, Middleton 10%

Who is to blame on the Landry touchdown?

You can't blame the pass rush here because this is a quick pass, released in under two seconds.

Williams is beaten on the slant and then misses the tackle to enable Landry to break into the open field.

Pryor is manning the middle of the field and his slow reaction, flat-footedness and inability to chase down the receiver is all too familiar. It seems most of the yards here are attributable to him and therefore he should get the lion's share of the blame on this one.

Verdict: Williams 40%, Pryor 60%

Play #14 - Week 17 v Rams. Justin Hunter 64-yard catch


Who is to blame?

This was the only fourth quarter 40+ yard play conceded by the Jets all season. Manuel has over three seconds to throw, although he does have to step up due to pressure from Corey Lemonier off the edge. He has room to step up because the Bills uses three guys to block Richardson and Wilkerson and Jordan Jenkins is neutralized easily off the other edge. Again, this only realistically accounts for a very small amount of blame.

Once again, Revis is the guy on the wrong end of this, although there's an element of misfortune about this because he slips or is pushed over. Then again, there's an element of good fortune too, because it should be an easy touchdown but for Manuel's horrible underthrow.

Rontez Miles deserves some credit for making the touchdown saving tackle, although he never would have got there without the underthrow so maybe he deserves a small allocation of the blame.

Verdict: Pass rush 5%, Revis 75%, Miles 10%, Luck/injustice 10%


Before we go any further, we have to reiterate that we've assigned arbitrary percentages to these plays and your own interpretation may vary. Where the situation is unclear, we've hedged our bets to arrive at an approximation of who deserved the blame on each play.

You're welcome to debate any of these plays and share your own interpretation, but using our own approximation, we can graphically represent who we've deemed as responsible for the most yardage based on these long plays.

Here are those results:

As you can see, quite a lot of the yardage is attributable to Revis, Pryor and Gilchrist who have all since left the team. However, in order to improve the situation, the players who take on these roles will need to perform well.

If Morris Claiborne can stay healthy, he'll be the number one cornerback and the longest play he gave up last year in 54 targets was a 32-yard play so that at least bodes well. As for rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, the hope is that their positional sense, technique, tackling ability and discipline will help them to ensure there are fewer big plays. We'll have to wait and see if that's the case though.

While Williams was involved in a lot of these yards, players like Roberts and Burris will need to prove they won't make similar mistakes if their workload is increased. The same is the case for Miles at deep safety.

Hopefully the pass rush will be improved too and this may help, although based on our analysis here, it didn't seem to have a major effect.

Having seen first hand how demoralizing big plays can be, we'll have to hope that the Jets can restore some balance in 2017 and create somewhere close to as many big plays as they give up.