The Jets entered the 2020 season merely with low expectations. Somehow, they were still unable to live up to them in their Week 1 loss to the Bills. Sam Darnold continued his concerning trend of looking like a rookie, and Adam Gase’s approach didn’t do much to help him.
Darnold’s interception in the 2nd quarter was a microcosm of how bad this offense was on Sunday. The throw itself was bad, but we’ll get to that in a second. How about the route concept? This was 3rd-and-6. The routes are illustrated below.
Go routes on the outside, a dig, and a check down. This is the best you’ve got on 3rd-and-6 against one of the best defenses in the league? Do any of these routes work off each other? Was any defender put in conflict, where he had to choose to jump a route with a receiver behind him, or cheat left with a receiver coming from the right? Was any defender challenged by the route concept at all? You be the judge:
Adam Gase was brought in because he was supposedly a great offensive mind. A quarterback guru, even. Where was that on Sunday? The fact of the matter is his offense in New York has been unimaginative. In case you think we’re cherry-picking, this wasn’t the only disappointing 3rd down play call from Sunday’s loss. You can see a couple of others here and here.
More concerning is how Darnold’s performance hasn’t improved under Gase. You could even argue that he’s gotten worse. Gase’s system has done little to put him in position to succeed. And Darnold seems to still have the habits of a rookie QB in this, his third season. Just look at this interception.
I’m fine with Darnold moving. Ed Oliver was closing in the middle and a simple side step wouldn’t have done the trick. But that throw? That decision? My goodness.
This offseason, we wrote about how 2019 was a lost year for Darnold. Unfortunately, he seemed to show some of the same issues in his first start of 2020 that we saw last year. Take the below play. Le’Veon Bell was aligned on the perimeter to Darnold’s left with a linebacker covering him. This was man coverage. Darnold needed to either take his shot with Bell and make the throw to beat the coverage (over top or back shoulder) or come off that route sooner.
Instead, Darnold took too long to move away from Bell. You can also see from the end zone angle that his footwork was atrocious. His feet did not move with his eyes back to the right as he worked through his reads, which led to the errant throw to Jamison Crowder.
We’ve seen too much of this out of Darnold under Gase after he showed signs of improvement during his rookie season.
You saw Darnold’s poor decision-making on the interception shown earlier. This sack on 1st-and-10 was also inexcusable.
It’s odd that Darnold didn’t take that backside route given the positioning of the underneath coverage, but we’ll save that discussion for another day. Darnold fled the pocket and had plenty of time to throw the ball away. Instead, he ran out of bounds and took a loss of 5 yards.
That simply can’t happen, especially for a Jets Offense that is struggling to gain any consistency. One reason the Jets can’t seem to get on track is because of all the negative plays that thwart drives and get the offense off schedule. The Jets aren’t talented enough to make as many unforced errors as they did against a team like the Bills and get away with it.
Things won’t get any easier in Week 2 against the 49ers.
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