Often in this kind of game, the defense will still grade out well because they performed well for most of it. However, that wasn't really the case in this one. That's even true of the defensive line, who - despite helping to hold the Eagles to 3.2 yards per carry - were not able to dominate up front as you can usually rely on them to do.
Just three games into his career, I'm struggling to get a handle on how good Leonard Williams actually is. Much like I had to with every cornerback after Darrelle Revis was so good in the first few years of the Rex Ryan era, the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson are so impressive that I probably need to recalibrate my scale. Williams is definitely good and hopefully destined for greatness, but at times I forget that he's still a rookie and I shouldn't judge him on the same criteria as I would a player like Wilkerson.
In this game, Williams had half a sack and a couple of pressures, but where he made the most impact was by getting penetration in the running game. Where I perhaps judge him too harshly is that he often gets handled at the point of attack, while Wilkerson will sometimes go a whole game without that ever happening, or maybe only once or twice while Richardson has an innate ability to recover after being handled at the line and get himself back into the play before it can develop. Williams was in on six tackles, including one for a loss, but he can be even better than he already is. Hopefully, Wilkerson will still be here so that he can continue to learn from him.
After having said that about Wilkerson, this was one of those rare games where he was blocked out of a few plays. Playing more than in the first two games on the outside, Wilkerson had to deal with the Eagles' two excellent tackles, but still racked up 11 tackles, mostly close to the line of scrimmage. He also had a half sack, a couple of pressures, a tackle for a loss and drew a holding penalty on a pass rush. He did miss one tackle though.
At nose tackle, Damon Harrison is having a bit of a quiet season. He was blocked out of a few plays and while he did bottle up some runs with good penetration, he had no solo tackles, although he did help himself to five assists. Harrison did have one good pass rush where he was able to knock Sam Bradford down after barging up the middle.
Off the bench, while he didn't play much, I saw some impressive signs from TJ Barnes this week. He had excellent penetration on two running plays and walked the center into the quarterback's lap on a bull rush. He was handled at the point of attack once though.
After having a significant role over the first two games, Leger Douzable didn't play as much this week and, other than a missed tackle, didn't make any kind of an impact. The Jets did mess with their rotations this week, seemingly playing more 3-3-5 formations and even mixing in some six defensive back packages. Douzable, a starter in the 4-2-5 nickel, saw his playing time reduced as a result.
Stephen Bowen had a similarly quiet game in eight snaps off the bench. He was blocked downhill on one run. Could next week be his last game with Richardson due to return after that?
Next up...a couple of costly breakdowns from the linebackers hurt the Jets...