First of all, I like the defensive play call. This is what you call a zone with man principles, at least that’s what I called it in basketball - and I determine this from what Bobby McCain does as he comes in motion with Robby Anderson. Instead of continuing with Anderson’s pseudo-wheel route (e.g., a strict “man” coverage), he stays inside and then follows man principles with the Z receiver down the field.
You see Kiko Alonso and Jerome Baker do something similar pre-snap and just after the snap, as they appear to swap inside-and-out. Subsequently, Chris Herndon in the slot is breaking towards Alonso (Baker points), who then completes the assignment with man principles while Baker sat with the RB.
Dolphins rush 5 with a Cover-3 look behind them. Chris Herndon gets behind Kiko on the deep crosser. Kiko jabs on the play action fake and simply doesn’t get fluid again to get enough depth. Footwork is a little “Electric Slide”-ish, and you like to see a smoother backpedal.
Good play design by the Jets to allow the 9-route to clear everything out and Herndon works towards the vacated space on the sideline. Once Sam Darnold sees Kiko without the necessary depth, it was easy pitch-and-catch.
Compare this to the last play: Kiko reacts faster to the play action fake, and this time, backpedals smoothly to get some depth. This route, instead of drifting towards the sideline, is meant to sit at 15 yards at the numbers, despite both “catch sites” being at mirrored sides of the field. Kiko learned his lesson earlier and adds another interception to his resumè.
Dolphins catch a break here, in my opinion. Minkah Fitzpatrick creeps up pre-snap, but then gets occupied with the 2 route combinations to his side of the field. Kiko, on the other hand, gets matched up with Herndon again who is lined up in the slot. It’s basically a go route that angles towards the near sideline and if that’s Darnold’s first read (who likely sees an aggressive Minkah within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage not actively backpedaling), that might be a huge gain.
By the way, I’m not putting this on Kiko, I think he’s expecting deep help here and luckily the pass rush did enough to make Darnold uncomfortable and get rid of the ball before the play could develop further. Looks like to me that Kiko is playing any route to the sticks, and beyond that, is counting on deep help.
Zero eye manipulation here by Darnold, and you’d like to see Kiko get a better break on this ball. There’s no reason to sit at that spot when you have Raekwon McMillan and TJ McDonald (at varying depths) to your left for any inside routes. If Kiko trusts his eyes and play call, he follows Darnold and he’s easily flowing out to the numbers to get a better angle at this pass. Not saying he would’ve deflected the pass, but it would’ve been a much tighter window.
Kiko can chase a play down. Missed the dive block attempt by the left tackle, stays in pursuit, and wraps up about 30 yards from where he started.
A subtle play for Kiko here, but I absolutely love this play. He’s in the very middle of the field, and watch how he plays this route: notice the shoulders. He’s ready for any “in-breaking” route at the sticks and it appeared to be Darnold’s first read (if slot runs a go route here, you’re looking at GIF #4 over again, where Kiko might need help over the middle of the field). Darnold understandably has to go through his progressions, flanks right, and inevitably has to throw the ball away.
Another “chase the ball over the whole field”: starts at the numbers, hurdles a pile of people, and goes across the field almost to the opposite sideline to make the tackle on Isaiah Crowell. Kudos to Xavien Howard for slowing him down, and Kiko cleans it up.
I believe this play is designed to get to the left edge, Jets try Eric Tomlinson in a FB role, and Kiko simply kamikazes perfectly into the running lane to take away the angle. Crowell has no choice but to just take what he can inside for a modest gain.
Kiko flashes outside the hash, sees the in-breaking route, jumps it and gets his beautiful mitts on the play. Textbook coverage, and in a late-game script to boot.