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Time to look in the mirror

NFL: Houston Texans at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

So, as many of you know, I was live tweeting yesterday’s game from the BFTB account. On the Miami Dolphins’ first offensive possession of the game, they capped it off with a touchdown pass to Devante Parker. Based on the play, the limited TV camera angle, and my own misunderstanding of what developed on the screen in front of me, I made the incorrect assessment that the play was the result of a bad read by FS Rayshawn Jenkins.

After the game, Rayshawn saw the tweet and rightly called me out for it. Now with the theme of my AAR articles on here, and kind of my general expectation for people to take criticism constructively (and give it constructively) then improve from it, I wanted to do this article.

What happened that needs improvement: 1) I made a bad tweet based off an incorrect assessment on my part. 2) Even if I had made the right assessment, my tweet was not constructive, but was written more like an insult.

Corrective Action:

Well for number 2, from now on if I have something negative to say, I will make a conscious effort to make sure it is framed in a constructive manner, rather than an insulting tone that doesn’t help anyone.

For number 1, I wanted to go back and look at the film, see where I read things wrong, ask someone who knows more than me (thanks to Michael Peterson for that) to help me understand it, then share that here so we can all learn.

The play

Pre-snap the Chargers are showing 1 high, Roderic Teamer (Yellow). Casey Hayward is out wide (Green), Desmond King is in the slot (Blue), and Rayshawn Jenkins is creeping up in the box (Red). This look is most likely a cover 1 or cover 3, but hard to tell. Jenkins was creeping up into the box leading up to the snap.

At the snap, Jenkins quickly bailed upfield. This is where things went wrong for me. Seeing him bail out like that, especially with the narrow camera angle on live TV, I incorrectly assumed he was dropping back to that deep right side of the field and that it was actually a cover 2, which meant that he’d have the responsibility for the deep corner of the field where the TD happened. If it was a cover 2, Jenkins would have been responsible for making sure nothing got behind him.

I was wrong. The Chargers appear to actually have been in cover 3. This means that the deep thirds of the field were split up between Michael Davis on the left side (Orange), Teamer in the deep middle (Yellow), and Casey Hayward actually had that deep right third (Green). Rayshawn was responsible for the middle hook area, as he corrected me in his tweet. The red box I drew here is actually a little high, it should be more middle of the field, but he would have been responsible for intermediate routes across the middle. Dez King here is responsible for the flat to the right (Blue).

So according to texbook, here is where things started to go wrong for the Chargers, and right for the Dolphins. Casey is following his man into Rayshawn’s zone, and doesn’t see the receiver that went out to the flats, now heading up the field to that deep right. Rayshawn is moving to get on the guy crossing into his zone. Part of what aids in the confusion here is the fact that both the Dolphins receivers are in somewhat close proximity so when Dez and Casey are looking at Rosen starting to wind up, it probably looks like he is looking at their guy. This would kind of lock them onto their guy at the time the pass comes out.

At this point the ball is in the air. Rayshawn is in position on his guy, and had the pass been going there, it’s probably an interception. Casey is now not in position to help deep in “his third.” Dez is basically forced to now bail on his flats zone and stick with his guy because he sees the pass is going deep towards the sideline, and he knows that the only guy over there is the guy he’s covering right now, but he also probably sees out of the corner of his eye, 2 blue jerseys covering the other WR that lined up that right side of the field, so he knows that he’s the only guy with a chance to cover the receiver the ball is already on its way too.

This was honestly a case of the Dolphins dialing up the perfect play at the perfect time to take advantage of the Chargers defense. Nobody is really “at fault” on this one. It’s just a situation that they can learn from going forward, so if another team dials up this play call when the Chargers are in this coverage, maybe Dez cheats upfield a little more, or maybe Casey allows himself to trail his guy a little more knowing Rayshawn is on his way over the middle.

And on my side, next time I’ll know to take an extra second to see what happened before I tweet out something stupid and look like a big dummy.

So thank you to Rayshawn Jenkins for giving me a learning opportunity and a chance to improve myself. I hope you find opportunities to do the same and keep grinding as well.