The New York Jets had one thing going for them during Monday night’s game: Sam Darnold is usually cool under pressure. Coming into the contest, Darnold had never thrown an interception while being blitzed. Unfortunately for Darnold and the Jets, the Patriots’ defense doesn’t care much for narratives.
New England wasted no time breaking that streak Monday. Darnold was picked off on his first pass of the night. The interception came while Darnold was being pressured, making it Darnold’s first interception while being blitzed. Many more would come later.
First pass for Sam Darnold is an INT by Devin McCourty.pic.twitter.com/IWcYXeA6Cn— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 22, 2019
Darnold, who was mic’d up for the game, blamed himself for the pick on the sideline. He told teammates, “It was zero. That was me. I've got to be louder. That's on me, I've got to be louder."
When Darnold says “zero,” he’s talking about the coverage. He recognized that the Patriots were playing zero coverage, meaning the cornerbacks were playing man-to-man and the safeties were blitzing. Darnold either didn’t read that coverage until he reviewed the play on the sideline, or he read it right on the field and just threw an inaccurate pass for the interception.
Some thought Darnold’s composure vs. the blitz would give the Jets a fighting chance during Monday’s game.
Sam Darnold has not thrown an interception against the blitz in his NFL career (4 TD, 0 INT). All 16 INTs have come against 4-or-fewer pass rushers.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 21, 2019
The Patriots blitz on 32% of pass plays (10th-highest rate in NFL).#NEvsNYJ | #TakeFlight pic.twitter.com/lsXAUozg2f
In fairness, Darnold’s excellence against the blitz didn’t come with a huge sample. Including Monday’s game, the 22-year-old Darnold has only made 16 starts in the NFL. On top of that, teams don’t blitz on every single play.
Darnold was going to throw an interception against the blitz eventually, and the Jets are hoping Monday’s first pass won’t be the start of a new trend. The Jets quickly fell behind 17-0 in the first quarter of Monday’s game, and it didn’t get much better from there.
The Jets ended up getting pulverized 33-0, with Darnold posting a ghastly line of 11-for-32 with 86 passing yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions, plus a lost fumble for good measure. His total passer rating: 3.7.
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