In this week's BGA, I analyze Week 15 performances by Bryce Petty, Bilal Powell, the offensive line, Robby Anderson, Darron Lee, and the special teams, among others...
Bent: With the Jets overmatched in the trenches, there was always a risk that Bryce Petty would never make it all the way through his "four-game audition." However, ironically, most of the hits he took came not as a result of offensive linemen failing to make their blocks, but rather from unblocked rushers exploiting messed-up protections.
While we can analyze the reads and throws Petty made, it's difficult to attribute blame when someone comes completely unblocked off the edge. However, it doesn't take much of a leap in logic to assume that Petty was the one at fault, given his reputation as someone who hasn't quite got to grips with pro concepts. That might have been the biggest thing that held him back from the coaching staff considering him to be "ready" to play any meaningful action until the Jets were out of contention.
In terms of how he saw the field and delivered the ball, Petty did once again show some progress this week. More so than any of his previous appearances, Petty had some plays where he surveyed the field and found the open man. He padded his stats with plenty of short passing and a couple of successful downfield shots in the first half, but the passing game started to grind to a halt after half time.
Statistically, Petty completed 20-of-36 passes for 235 yards and would perhaps have had a chance at a 300-yard game had he been able to stay in the game for the fourth quarter. In fact, he had almost 200 yards at half time, as the Jets had moved the ball pretty consistently. In the third quarter, Petty was just 4-of-10 for 15 yards with an interception. Fourteen of those yards came on the last play.
Petty would then be knocked out on the first play of the fourth quarter on a play where, rather than a failure to set the protection, it seemed like an early snap was the reason for two completely unblocked rushers getting into the backfield.
Petty wasn't always accurate and had two interceptions, one a classic rookie mistake where he didn't spot the defensive end dropping into coverage and another on a deep throw which was basically a jump ball. Despite these, there were moments in the first half where Petty showed some promise, especially throwing on the move and with his touchdown pass where he changed the play at the line, then threw a strike, hitting the receiver in stride. Will he ever get the time to develop to a point where he can iron out those rookie mistakes though?
As for Ryan Fitzpatrick, he entered the game in relief of Petty and completed just five of 10 passes, all on dump-offs, closing the game out with one of his trademark end zone picks. He also threw right at a defensive player on a fourth down play where both Robby Anderson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins seemed to be open near the goal line.
The calls for Christian Hackenberg will now increase, especially if Petty is unable to suit up next weekend. However, I'm not sure Jets fans should want Hackenberg anywhere near this mess.
Bent: Bilal Powell got the start after his excellent display last week and delivered well once again. Not only did he average over five yards per carry on his way to 84 rushing yards, but he also caught 11 passes for another 78 yards, generating several first downs. I believe that's the biggest receiving output by a Jets back since Richie Anderson had two double-digit reception games in 2000.
Powell continues to display his burst and shiftiness and it's good to see that he's been durable so far despite handling a much bigger workload.
Powell wasn't perfect though, missing a couple of blitz pick-ups and getting stuffed on fourth down. That was the first time all season he's carried the ball on third or fourth down with a yard to go and failed to pick up the first down. The Jets offense looks better when he's being featured though and that's been the case for the last two years.
Perhaps more interesting than the way the Jets used Powell was their usage of Matt Forte. Forte is nursing a knee injury, but was healthy enough that he received reps as a situational third-down back throughout and then saw action in garbage time in relief of Powell.
While it makes sense to limit Forte's reps if he isn't 100 percent, entering him into the game in that situation almost suggests he was relegated to a back-up role rather than only having been kept active as a contingency, so Jets apparently opted to keep Powell as the starter and deservedly so. That's not always the case with veteran players. Should we also expect to see the likes of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall or David Harris benched for younger alternatives down the stretch?
Youngster Brandon Wilds saw action briefly but didn't get any touches. Why not get him some touches late in the game, instead of exposing an injured veteran to more punishment?
Bent: This was billed as a really tough test for the Jets' offensive line but they actually handled themselves surprisingly well. As noted above, much of the pressure surrendered was due to blown protections rather than missed blocks and there weren't many examples of individual blockers being overmatched in a one-on-one situation.
After a fine performance last week, pending restricted free agent Wesley Johnson continues to make a case for himself as the starting center for next season. In this game, he did an excellent job of carving out the middle by taking his man and driving him laterally on a number of plays. It was nowhere near as consistent as his performance last week though, as he had a couple of bad snaps, let his man into the backfield a few times and whiffed on a couple of blocks in space.
In the past, the Jets have approached the Ndamukong Suh challenge by relying on Nick Mangold to neutralize him and exploiting mismatches elsewhere. They shied away from this approach this time, instead opted to spread the line out, run away from him and using combination blocks to slow him down as much as possible. Between them, the Jets' line did a decent job of limiting his effectiveness, although he did blow up a few plays.
Brian Winters was usually matched up with Suh, who tends to line up on the left side of the formation. As a result, Winters had one of his least effective games of the year, albeit still a far cry from recent years where he was even worse than this on a regular basis, even when faced with easier match-ups. Winters allowed a couple of pressures and was called for a hold, but did make a few positive contributions in the running game.
By contrast, James Carpenter was fortunate enough not to have to deal with Suh very often, although he did have a couple of effective blocks pulling to that side. Carpenter let his man get off his block for one pressure, but otherwise made solid contributions in the running and screen game.
The two inexperienced tackles, Ben Ijalana and rookie Brandon Shell both held up better than you might expect, on the assumption that most of the unblocked pressure coming off the edge was not on them.
Ijalana got beaten outside a couple of times in the first half, although even on these he pushed the pass rusher upfield and that would have enabled the quarterback to step up had there not been unblocked pressure coming from the other side. He had one play where he was driven back in the pocket and ended up being flagged for illegal hands to the face, but otherwise had one of his cleanest games so far, especially since the move to left tackle.
Shell was primarily matched up with Cameron Wake, who had two hits, an interception, a sack and a forced fumble. None of this seemed to be Shell's fault though, unless he was the one who blew the protection when he double-teamed down on Suh and left Wake unblocked off the edge for the strip sack.
Shell was beaten outside and lost leverage a few times, flushing the quarterback from the pocket, but never surrendered any clean pressure. He also had a few encouraging moments in the running game, making a couple of good downhill blocks and working well in combination with the right guard. Hopefully Shell can get more chances to show how much progress he has made in these last couple of games.
Dakota Dozier saw plenty of action as a sixth lineman and then relieved Winters at right guard down the stretch. All told, he played more snaps in this game than he had the rest of the season put together. Dozier had one missed block on a running play that was stuffed and also reacted late to a blitz and was unable to prevent the rusher from getting into the backfield. However, he had a good downhill block and an effective combo block in the running game.
Finally, Craig Watts made his NFL debut and was in on two plays as an extra tight end.
Bent: The most eye-popping statistic from this game was that Marshall had just one catch on 11 targets. Take that out of the equation and Petty and Fitzpatrick completed a reasonable 24-of-35 passes between them. In fact, Jets quarterbacks have a quarterback rating of just 49.4 when targeting Marshall this year, which makes you wonder if the Jets' passing numbers would have been better without him.
It began quite well, as Petty found him over the middle for a first down and then hit him for another first down. However, Petty looked for him unsuccessfully nine times in a row after that, with one of them being the interception caused by him staring Marshall down and failing to see the defensive end dropping into the passing lane. Fitzpatrick looked for him twice, drawing a flag on one.
Marshall, supposedly on a "pitch count" missed just three snaps, but his output was disappointing in a week where he'd continued his war of words with Byron Maxwell, even though Petty tried to take full responsibility after the game. Petty notably missed him on a play where he had a step deep.
Maxwell hurt his ankle early on and maybe this was a demotivating factor for Marshall, who had a couple of drops and seemed to miss a signal on a play where Petty looked to throw a quick pass to him and was sacked because Marshall never looked back for the ball. There was also one play where Marshall ran a stop route and then literally just stood still in that same spot for several seconds when Petty looked the other way. Is this the first sign that we can start to expect some demonstrative body language from Marshall if they are unable to feature him more over the next two weeks?
Quincy Enunwa had a decent game, with five catches for 60 yards, including a juggling catch and a sideline grab. He also made some good yardage after the catch on a couple of plays. Enunwa is closing fast on Marshall for the team lead in terms of receiving yards. He's now just 14 yards behind, although Powell's big game pushes Enunwa into third place in terms of receptions, five behind Marshall on 52.
For Enunwa, that was only the second time since week four he's caught five passes, so he needs to continue to improve his consistency in anticipation of an even bigger role next year. There were a couple of passes he got his hands to but couldn't bring in
Anderson is also closing on Marshall and, at the rate he's been producing, he might be able to make up the 116 yard gap over the next two games. Whoever would have imagined that could be possible without Marshall missing significant time? Anderson scored another long touchdown, again showcasing his big play speed, and had three other catches, including two first downs.
There's a question of whether Anderson could have done a better job of contesting the deep interception and he was unable to come up with what seemed to be a catchable pass in traffic, but overall his consistent production has been impressive and if he can bulk up between now and next season without sacrificing too much speed, he should be a focal point of the offense.
Charone Peake has been totally overshadowed by Anderson this year, but hasn't had a bad rookie season. He caught a couple of short passes, giving him 16 on the season, but was the intended recipient on Fitzpatrick's game-ending interception.
At tight end, Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught just one short pass and struggled as a blocker. He also dropped another pass, although Petty fired it at him with no touch from close quarters. Eric Tomlinson was motionless still in his stance as Petty was sandwiched and knocked out of the game by Suh and Wake. That may not have been his fault though and he made some good blocks in the running game this week.
Coming off an injury, Brandon Bostick barely played and it was his missed lead block that led to Powell being stuffed on an otherwise well-blocked fourth down play.
Bent: The defensive line didn't seem to have much of an impact this week, but it's difficult to fault them too much. In the running game, the Jets allowed just 67 yards on 27 carries and stuffed several short yardage plays. Sheldon Richardson was credited with a quarterback hit but otherwise the linemen didn't record a hit or sack. However, Matt Moore only threw 18 passes, many of them on quick releases, so it's not like they had many opportunities to produce in terms of pass rush numbers.
Leonard Williams got off to a great start, blowing up two runs in a row but only had modest production thereafter. He ended up with six tackles, all of which came on plays that gained one yard or less. In fact, Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson were in on two tackles each and all four of those went for one yard or less too.
As a group, the Jets held up better at the point of attack than they have done over the past few games, with fewer examples of players being driven off the line. While the statistical production from Wilkerson and Richardson was poor, they each helped to bottle up runs or redirect runners with penetration. However, I was hoping for more from Wilkerson after he showed some flashes down the stretch last week. He was OK, but they don't pay him over $1 million per game to be OK.
Williams again saw some time off the edge, but had just two pressures. One of those saw him lining up at nose and blowing past the center with his trademark arm-over swim move. That this remains his go-to move is perhaps an indictment on defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, who reportedly discourages his players from using swim moves. Wilkerson also had his only pressure on the interior, leveraging his way past his man to pressure Moore up the middle.
Backup nose tackle Deon Simon has been a bright spot over the last few weeks and that continued in this game. The Jets stuffed all four run attempts from the goal line and Simon was a key factor in each of those plays. On one of them, he drove the center back into the backfield and onto his back. He was also in on one run stuff on a non-goal line play, but didn't play that much in non-short yardage situations.
Finally, Anthony Johnson saw action briefly. He flushed the quarterback from the pocket on a goal line roll-out but lost contain on one outside run, although that play was negated by a penalty.
Bent: Darron Lee probably had one of his most consistent games of the year. However, he was unable to altogether avoid any negatives, as he gave up a big catch down to the goal line on a lofted jump ball to Dion Sims that saw Lee lose his balance and stumble over in coverage. He was also perhaps partially at fault for leaving Sims open for an easy touchdown, although with Lee having lined up on the opposite side, I think that was more likely on Rontez Miles.
There were some good moments from Lee though. He closed quickly on a pass in the flat to stop the receiver in his tracks near the line early on to get off to a good start. Even more impressively, he anticipated a run, got ahead of the lineman and was able to leverage off his block to plug a running lane. That was a good example of a play where if he hesitated for even a split second, he'd have been caught on the block and unable to make the play so perhaps it's a sign he's advancing in that crucial area.
David Harris had a couple of pressures as a blitzer and was in on a few run stops, but he was beaten for big gain and a touchdown in coverage and had a missed tackle in a quiet performance. Does he have any more than two games left as a Jet?
Bruce Carter saw some action off the bench when Lee suffered an eye injury. He had a tackle for loss, a third down tackle to force a punt and one other good hit.
With both Mike Catapano and Lorenzo Mauldin out, CFL import Freddie Bishop got plenty of work at outside linebacker. He was about as good as his predecessors had been, but that's probably more of an indictment on them than anything else.
On the other side, rookie Jordan Jenkins was credited with his first full sack after having a half-sack last week. It was a cheap one though; an open field tackle as Moore tried to scramble with nobody open. Bishop and Jenkins otherwise failed to generate any other pressure between them.
Both made plays against the run, although Bishop had a missed tackle and was blocked out of one run on the edge. As for Jenkins, he had one other tackle for loss but was absolutely pancaked by a pulling lineman on one play.
Bent: With Marcus Gilchrist out for the rest of the year, it was always going to be interesting to see how Calvin Pryor and Rontez Miles would cope at safety. Each had six tackles, tied with Leonard Williams for the team lead, but there were also some mishaps, including one each that led to a score.
Pryor took a bad angle on the play where Jarvis Landry broke away for a long touchdown while Miles passed his man off in coverage leaving him wide open in the end zone for an easy score.
There weren't many other obvious coverage breakdowns, but Pryor over pursued on one other play and was beaten for a first down in coverage. Each came up to make a few plays in the box though and Miles added a pressure on the blitz.
At cornerback, Juston Burris got his first career start and did well to intercept an underthrown pass. However, he was burned for a long touchdown and botched the chance to recover a fumble. Burris was in good position on two other incompletions, though. There was a barely perceptible hesitation from Burris just before the receiver made his break on the post pattern for that long touchdown which makes me wonder if maybe he thought they were playing zone on that particular play.
Marcus Williams' inability to tackle continues to blight his efforts to establish himself as a starter-level player. He overran one play, leading to a big gain as the receiver cut back, and then missed the tackle that led to Landry's 66-yard score.
Darrelle Revis gave up a couple of first downs, although it seemed like he was trying to blame Pryor for one of them. He had good coverage on one third down incompletion early on, but did a poor job of getting off a downfield block in the second half.
Off the bench, Dexter McDougle and Ronald Martin each saw their first action of the year. McDougle whiffed on one tackle in run support. Doug Middleton also saw action, mostly as a deep safety, having played as an extra linebacker last week. Middleton dropped a chance at an interception and was called for pass interference down the field as he came over to try and break up a pass.
Bent: Another major special teams breakdown cost the Jets dearly this week, as the blocked punt for a score just after half time turned a competitive game into one where the Jets crumbled. Wilds did a lousy job of blocking the rush on the play. Wilds has been forced into that role having not been on the roster for very long, which is an issue special teams coach Brant Boyer had been discussing just a few days ago.
You can add Nick Folk to the list of Jets veterans who might only have a few games left in his Jets career. Folk has had a pretty good year and nailed both his field goals here - although kicking one on 4th-and-short in a 24-point game was a frustratingly pointless exercise. Although he's only missed three field goals all year - each of them blocked - Folk simply isn't enough of an upgrade over replacement level to warrant the additional salary on a rebuilding team.
Rookie punter Lac Edwards is cheap, but he might not be on next year's team either because based on his performance this year, he simply isn't good enough. While the blocked punt wasn't his fault, his three other punts netted 31, 42 and 29 yards further extending his streak of not having had a single punt with a 45-yard net over the last few months. When punting from opposing territory, failing to at least land the ball inside the 15, which he has done multiple times over the past few weeks, is inexcusable.
Nick Marshall had a couple of good punt returns, but was routinely stopped short of the 25 on kick-offs. One of his punt returns came after the ball once again hit an oblivious blocker for a possible turnover. That's about the third or fourth time that's happened in the last month. The ball seemed to deflect off either McDougle or Ronald Martin and then Darryl Roberts failed to recover it before Marshall scooped it up and ran it up field.
Marshall didn't just contribute in the return game, as he was in on two tackles in coverage and his pressure off the edge contributed to Miami missing a game-tying extra point. Richardson also had good penetration on that kick.
Also in coverage, Josh Martin had a special teams tackle on a great play where he drove his blocker back and then disengaged. He did also miss a tackle though. Devin Smith also had a good tackle in kick coverage, but overpursued on a punt.
Some of the blocking left a lot to be desired though. Wilds and Bishop were among those who seemingly missed assignments.
Bent: Looking back on this game, it will be remembered as an ugly blow-out loss. The second half spiralled out of control in a fashion we've seen all too often in recent years as Jets fans - even when the team was good!
However, for much of the first half, the Jets were doing quite well and I was actually enjoying the game. I even felt the Jets were outplaying Miami for the most part. Things got ugly after half time, with the demoralizing punt block and then the long touchdown out of nothing that suddenly had the Dolphins way out in front with the Jets ill-equipped to counter and with little impetus to motivate themselves to do so.
With just two games to go, we're now at the point where I can't wait for the season to be over, although there are some individual performances I'll be interested to monitor. Perhaps more so than the previous regime, at least they are giving some reserve players a chance to get on the field and show what they're capable of.
The New England game next week could get ugly, unless the Patriots decide that resting players is a higher priority than postseason seeding. However, having said that, the Jets played New England pretty tough a few weeks ago and arguably deserved to win, so who knows?
It certainly looks likely that the Jets will end up with no more than five wins and their third top ten pick since the end of the 2013 season. Let's see if anyone else can establish themselves as someone to build around over the next few years.