London is calling! The Jets should arrive here early on Friday morning where they will prepare for the meeting with the Dolphins in a battle of two teams that were both 24-0 down in the second quarter of their previous game.
There will probably be more Dolphins fans than Jets fans at the game, which is unusual for a Miami home game against the Jets. Hopefully this will unsettle the Dolphins. Wouldn't it be nice to beat the rival Dolphins and head to the bye (and Sheldon Richardson's imminent return) with a 3-1 record? Don't forget to set your alarm clocks!
If you have any questions or would like me to look at something more closely, please leave your questions here in the comments, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @bent_double and I'll respond in BGA Extra later this week.
There are links to each BGA article or the option to read the offensive and/or defensive BGA in full after the jump.
[sny-accordion title="To re-read the offensive BGA in full, click here"]Introduction
Yesterday's result was disappointing, but there was always a chance this could happen. The Jets are not without their flaws and any one of these could cost them a game at any point this season. In yesterday's game, several of these manifested themselves at once. The Jets' special teams personnel is not established and appears to lack any stand-out performers. Their new quarterback might be more consistent than the last one, but that doesn't mean we should expect him to play well every week. Also, a lack of offensive depth always had the potential to force some inexperienced or inferior players into action.
I guess after falling so far behind, last year's team would have crumbled and lost in even more embarrassing fashion, so maybe they deserve some credit for getting back into a situation where they almost got back into it, almost like a pitcher who keeps his team in the game when he obviously doesn't have his best stuff. That's scant consolation though.
With Eric Decker unavailable and Chris Ivory active but not used - presumably because the Jets were leaning towards not using him but would have used him as cover in the event of an injury - the Jets were down a couple of playmakers on offense and didn't have a great deal of early success with a conservative offensive gameplan. Having fallen behind, they were forced to take more risks and both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall made a couple of costly blunders, perhaps because they were pressing. More on that to come, obviously.
The good news is that Decker and Ivory should return and therefore the offense will be stronger. In addition, Sheldon Richardson should be back soon too and that's going to enhance the defense. I'm not sure about the offensive line or the special teams unit, though; they're just going to have to somehow figure it out.
Jets fans could forgiven for thinking "life's been good" after the first two games, but the long run by Ryan Mathews early in the game was an early warning sign that things would get out of control. Now, the Jets' two-game winning streak is already gone and most of us are sad. We'll get over it though and, while I can't tell you why they are struggling I'm sure the coaching staff will be working all night long and tryin' to get to the heart of the matter.
Ummm...something something Hotel California.
After two solid performances in the first two games, Ryan Fitzpatrick underlined how this Jets team isn't really built to come from behind, as the team's efforts to recover from a 24-0 deficit came up short with Fitzpatrick throwing three interceptions after that point.
Fitzpatrick missed some opportunities, both in terms of not seeing open receivers and also with a series of off-target throws. Still, about halfway through the second quarter, he had completed two-thirds of his passes and had a quarterback rating of over 90. From that point onwards, his number reflected his performance more accurately though.
As noted, Fitzpatrick misfired on several throws. He was also unable to connect on several long passes, had too many passes batted at the line and generally seemed to throw too many short passes early on. It's the interceptions that were the real killer though, even though they didn't factor into the 24-point deficit.
On each of the three interceptions, he had some bad luck, but was still at fault. One was a deep ball which maybe could have been contested a little better by Devin Smith, but at the same time was slightly underthrown. The next one was tipped at the line, but he had hesitated a beat too long and, from the replay, it looks like Byron Maxwell was in position to jump the curl route to Brandon Marshall, so it might have been picked off anyway. On the last one, it went through the hands of Marshall, but was again a makeable throw that was high and wide. He was also lucky to not be intercepted one other time when he threw an ill-advised deep ball and two Eagles more or less fought each other to be the one who dropped it.
In terms of passes he missed, there was one play where Quincy Enunwa got off the jam at the line and had a step deep over the top, but Fitzpatrick couldn't get the throw off cleanly because he was hit as he threw. On another one, he misfired badly with Smith open in the end zone, initially stepping up well, but then failing to step into the throw and seeing it sail on him. On another third-and-short play, Enunwa was completely uncovered on a slant route from off the tight end's shoulder for an easy dump-off underneath, but Fitzpatrick instead scrambled and was lucky to get the spot for the first down.
While Fitzpatrick ended up with 283 yards and two touchdowns, so he did generate some production, plenty of it came with the Eagles playing off, with his two touchdown drives coming late in the first half on a two-minute drill and early in the fourth quarter.
For some reason, presumably in an effort to slow down the Eagles pass rush, Fitzpatrick varied up his cadences at the line much more than he did in either of the first two games. I wonder if this perhaps over-complicated matters and affected his focus - or that of other offensive players.
While he didn't pass the ball that effectively, Fitzpatrick was directly responsible for four first downs, one on a hard count and three as a rusher. One of these was on a quarterback sneak, which prompted me to look up some numbers on Jets quarterback sneaks because it seems like they never do that any more. Sure enough, they had done it just eight times (for 13 yards) in the previous four seasons - and, yes, that includes the Tim Tebow season. Prior to that, they did it 16 times in 2009 and 2010 combined. While Brett Favre perhaps unsurprisingly only did it once in 2008, they did it 21 times in 2007. Is the sneak a dying art or a high percentage play that they have neglected for too long?
Anyway, we should see how Fitzpatrick plays next week before we should even entertain reverting back to Geno Smith. If anyone is calling for Smith already, they must have short memories, because the Smith of 2013 and 2014 has had many performances as bad as or worse than this one and Fitzpatrick hasn't had even two bad games in a row, yet.
If he does have a second consecutive bad game in London, though, you know they're going to be under pressure to make that move with two weeks to mull the decision over. If they do, Jets fans will have to hope that Smith is going to be the "New and Improved Geno" many people within the organization portrayed him as before his injury, because if he's the "Same Old Geno," then you don't need me to tell you what that means for this team.
Many people are surprised that Brian Winters is still on the roster. However, with Willie Colon struggling with a knee issue, Winters played the entire second half and the prognosis for Colon to start next week doesn't sound good. So, for now at least, it looks like the much-maligned Winters is back in the starting line-up.
However, while Winters did have a couple of bad moments, he was far from the only reason for the offensive line's struggles in yesterday's game. I know the Eagles have a couple of talented guys up-front, but they were also missing three starters from their front seven and the Jets struggled to win at the point of attack in the running game and to protect Ryan Fitzpatrick as effectively as you'd usually expect.
There would be no settling into a good second-half rhythm as there was last week. The line couldn't seem to get it going and, while each player made individual errors, it seemed like most of the problems came from a failure to block effectively as a unit. With such a wealth of experience on the line, could the downside be that the short week has affected them more than it would most other teams? If so, that doesn't bode well for the Thursday and Saturday night games against Buffalo and Dallas, respectively, later on in the season.
Fitzpatrick was only actually sacked once but did deal with a lot of pressure. I guess that was inevitable because he ended up dropping back more than 60 times. That's another thing which is not ideal for an ageing offensive line because constant pass protection is presumably more tiring than run blocking.
At left tackle, D'Brickashaw Ferguson had some issues dealing with the power of Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, who repeatedly pushed him back in the pocket. Much of the time, though, this was achieved by getting their hands up in his face and driving him back by the facemask. Check out the play before Marshall's touchdown for a particularly egregious example that you get to see from three angles. NFL officials never call that though. Oh, wait...
Legal or not, Ferguson struggled to stay on his block, but never really let anyone past him to surrender a clean hit on Fitzpatrick, although right near the end of the game he did lose inside leverage for a hit. The Jets even used James Carpenter to give him inside help and ensure a clean pocket on some plays. In the second half, Ferguson seemed to regroup and this wasn't as much of an issue for him. He did have his man get upfield on him on one play, but recovered to drive him out of the play and his man nearly had a sack on a play where Fitzpatrick had to flip the ball to a back while in the grasp. On that play, Ferguson had stayed on his block and Fitzpatrick ran into his man, though.
On the other side, Breno Giacomini was also driven back into the quarterback a handful of times, but he gave up more clean pressure. Giacomini lost inside leverage a couple of times and, unlike Ferguson, was also beaten outside a couple of times and allowed his man to record a sack. That one was Colon's fault, though, as he was bull rushed into the backfield and Fitzpatrick was sacked by Giacomini's man as he tried to step up.
I think that play, where Vinny Curry drove Colon back, was where he aggravated his knee injury, although he did stay in for the last four plays before exiting at half time. He didn't surrender any other pressure in that first half and even saved Giacomini at least once, but each interior lineman gave up at least one pressure including one play where Carpenter was fooled by Connor Barwin bluffing like he was going to drop into coverage and then reacted to late to his delayed blitz. That was the play where Quincy Enunwa was open deep but Fitzpatrick couldn't get a clean throw off. There was also a couple of pressures from stunting linemen splitting between two blockers.
With Winters in, the interior seemed to fare worse in pass protection in the second half, although that was partly because the Eagles linemen knew the Jets had to pass and so were able to tee off on them. Carpenter was beaten cleanly once, bull rushed into the quarterback once and failed to pick up a stunt once. Nick Mangold didn't get beaten for a pressure but there was one slow-developing screen pass where he actually propelled the pass rusher into Fitzpatrick as he peeled off to the second level. As for Winters himself, he showed poor awareness on one delayed blitz that led to a hit, failed to sustain his block on the play where his man tipped a pass leading to an interception and got beaten cleanly once for another pressure.
In terms of the running game, the team really struggled as a unit. Each tackle missed a couple of blocks that led to runs getting stuffed and Mangold uncharacteristically struggled at the point of attack, especially in the first half. A run was also blown up when the tackler split a Colon and Mangold double team to make the tackle in the backfield. Each lineman had at least one good block in the running game, apart from Winters, although the Jets didn't really run much in the second half with Powell and Fitzpatrick carrying just four times each.
Sometimes when the Jets' running game isn't clicking you'll see examples where multiple players screw up on any given play. Also, at the other end of the scale, you'll find that almost everyone will block really well on a given play, but one or two obvious mistakes are the reason why the play failed. In yesterday's game, it seemed like neither of these were apparent very often. Instead, it just seemed untidy somehow.
There was one really obvious example of the latter I want to share though, which was actually on a screen pass rather than in the running game.
This play wasn't an ideally set up screen pass, but it had a great chance of working. Note how Carpenter is tasked with getting across to take out the defensive player who has stayed at home and is looking to square up Bilal Powell in the open field. At the same time, the other four offensive linemen seem to be set up to wall off their men perfectly by sealing them to the backside. Well, apart from...
Fitzpatrick pays the price for getting the throw off, but Carpenter makes the block, opening up the Carpal Tunnel™ perfectly for Powell. Well, it would have been perfectly...
Where are you going Willie? He's right behind you!
Okay, just run over and take out Breno instead, that works. Did he forget what team he was on because of the white-out?
While Colon might not even play next week and, who knows, may miss considerable time, this play is still a good example of something that should have worked perfectly, but one breakdown makes all the difference.
With or without Colon in the line-up, the Jets will be under pressure to block far more cohesively as a group in the next game, in which the challenge of facing Ndamukong Suh looms large.
While he might not be as talented as Chris Ivory, I sometimes feel that Bilal Powell is under-appreciated by Jets fans, myself included. Powell plays hard, is versatile and I absolutely love his hustle even when chasing down lost causes like the punt return in yesterday's game. By all rights, he should probably be one of my favorite players, but he seems to be caught in between being in a reserve role where he doesn't get many chances to contribute and a lead back role he perhaps isn't ideally cut out for.
With Ivory not playing, you can't help but wonder how much of a downgrade the Jets' running game suffered with Powell in there. Maybe there was none at all. After all, Powell started another week three game in place of Ivory three weeks ago and ran for almost 150 yards, more than Ivory ever has as a Jet. The outcome yesterday was very different though, although the Jets abandoned the running game pretty early on.
To Powell's credit, he generated some excellent production in the second half. While he rushed just four times for 11 yards, Powell caught six of his career high seven receptions after half time, for 44 yards, breaking a few tackles and fighting for extra yardage on his way to three first downs. It's a shame he couldn't do more in the running game, though, because he did appear to hesitate on a couple of runs where he looked like he could have made a good gain if he hit the hole hard.
Powell was targeted eight times, with the only incompletion coming on a low Ryan Fitzpatrick pass that he was unable to scoop up off the turf. He did also have a couple of good blitz pick-ups.
The performance from Zac Stacy provided a stark reminder for anyone who has been calling for Bryce Petty, Matt Flynn or Walt Powell to get an opportunity that producing against back-ups in preseason doesn't necessarily translate to regular season production. While Stacy has produced at the NFL level in the past, he looked slow and indecisive in making just one yard on his four touches. While you could say that he didn't get much of a chance because of the blocking in front of him, there was one play where he should have been able to bounce it outside for a good gain. Re-watching that, I could picture exactly what Ivory would have been able to do in the same situation.
Interestingly, fullback Tommy Bohanon was only in for four plays. While a part of that is obviously that they didn't run the ball very much, this perhaps suggests that they might be considering phasing him out of the offense since there are others that can motion into that position from the "11" personnel group. That being the case, the experiment didn't seem to go so well and perhaps the Jets will use Bohanon more next week to see if the running game functions better with him in there, even though he himself has been inconsistent.
I've often thought that if NFL teams started practicing lateral passes more often, it could revolutionize the league. Sure, it's a risky play, but if players practiced it, used it at the appropriate time and were on the same page in terms of expecting it, this could stretch a defense and turn a lot of plays into big gains. Unfortunately, none of those things applied to the play Brandon Marshall tried to make in yesterday's game.
Marshall called his ill-advised attempt to lateral the ball to Jeff Cumberland, the "worst play in NFL history". He's wrong, but at least he recognizes it was a reckless thing to do. The Jets were driving, down 17, at the time and seven plays later that lead swelled to a what-proved-to-be-insurmountable 24 points.
What was he thinking, though? Let's take a look...
As you can see, if Marshall was able to pitch the ball cleanly to Cumberland, he'd have theoretically had 60 yards of green grass ahead of him down the sideline. The idea is almost too clever from Marshall, like a Rajon Rondo no-look behind the back pass that bounces past the big man and out of bounds because he isn't able to catch it. The execution, though, is completely wrong. Marshall's obviously been watching too much of the Rugby World Cup ahead of the London trip because those guys make it look easy.
If Marshall tossed the ball sideways at the moment of the image above, then the worse thing that could happen would be that Cumberland didn't expect it and it sailed harmlessly out of bounds. This is why I say that using a lateral at the right time could be a good option and a worthwhile risk. Marshall didn't do that, though, he tried to fall forwards for extra yardage and only at the very last moment decided to try and flip it to Cumberland almost as if he was thinking "Oh, I'm being tackled. What was that great idea I had two seconds ago? Ah, yes, I remember..."
Now he knows how Mark Sanchez felt after most of his interceptions in 2012.
By the time Marshall tried to offload the ball to Cumberland, Connor Barwin was in the way and the ball rebounded off his face mask for a turnover. The other issue with this pitch was that he tried to get the ball to Cumberland. Not only was Cumberland clearly not expecting this at all, he's also Jeff Cumberland! That means Marshall was making a risky toss to a guy with questionable hands who might not have had the footspeed to make much out of it anyway.
It shouldn't have been ruled a fumble, by the way. Had that been a successful lateral, I'm sure he'd have been ruled down. Consider it like a buzzer-beater in basketball. If the elbow touching the ground is equivalent to the red light and the ball is still in contact with the shooter's hand when the right light comes on, the basket doesn't count. Marshall probably deserved not to get the benefit of the doubt from the booth there, though.
Marshall admitted after the game that he "played like crap" and this wasn't the only reason. He also had the ball go through his hands on Fitzpatrick's last interception, almost lost another fumble and failed to pick up the first down on a short pass at the marker. Even so, Marshall, who had minus-six yards on two catches until late in the first half, ended up with 10 catches for over 100 yards and a touchdown, so he continues to produce. That's even with Eric Decker out of the line-up.
It's obviously still pretty early in the season, but Marshall is actually on course to break the single season Jets receiving records for receptions, yards and touchdowns if he continues to produce at this rate the rest of the way. The last two would be close, but he's potentially going to smash Al Toon's record of 93 catches in a season if he doesn't get hurt.
Marshall also drew one penalty and I counted three other plays that could have also been flagged. Had the Jets got the ball back in the last minute, that might have been one way the Jets could have quickly moved into scoring range.
Last week, every receiver and tight end not named Marshall or Decker managed to combine for just one catch, but this week Ryan Fitzpatrick did have more success spreading the ball around. The three other receivers combined to catch 14 passes for 122 yards and a score and even Cumberland caught two passes, his first of the season.
The big story was Jeremy Kerley finally seeing action on offense and producing well. Kerley had six catches, although four of these were dump-offs that didn't generate much yardage. He scored a touchdown on a well-designed play where Fitzpatrick found him open at the back of the endzone and had an absolutely spectacular one-handed catch where he was extremely unlucky that his elbow came down out of bounds just before his other foot got down.
Many have suggested that this proves Kerley should have been used a lot sooner and while I definitely think he should be playing more than he has - you'll recall I was calling for him to get more reps in the Colts game - I don't know if this production necessarily warrants him jumping ahead of Quincy Enunwa or Chris Owusu quite yet. After all, if not for those four dump-off passes, Kerley actually only had two catches on seven targets.
I had been wondering if part of Kerley's drop down the depth chart is due to him lacking the instincts to adjust his routes accurately, as required in the Erhardt-Perkins system Chan Gailey employs. Sure enough, on three passes in this game, he and Fitzpatrick weren't quite on the same page with the timing of the throw just slightly off, which could in theory be because Kerley's route didn't take him to the correct spot. (Of course, it could equally just be an inaccurate throw.) Two of these were off his hands and a third saw him tackled short of a first down on a slant where the ball was ever so slightly behind him.
Enunwa is starting to show more of how he can be a weapon each week. His five catches for 50 yards included one diving grab where he got up and gained some extra yardage. As I mentioned in the quarterbacks review, he got behind the defense deep on one play where Fitzpatrick couldn't get him the ball and was also uncovered underneath on a third and short play, although he perhaps should have recognized that and sat down in the gap in the zone to present Fitzpatrick with a more obvious target. Enunwa also seemed to be open on a deep crosser on the play where Fitzpatrick instead opted to go deep and got picked off. He did display good physicality after the catch and on one good block from the slot, but it wasn't a perfect performance because he also had two bad missed blocks, a false start and another drop.
The only other active wide receiver, Devin Smith, did some good things in his first NFL game, but I was a little disappointed in his ability to get deep separation and his physicality in contesting downfield passes. I can't fault the Jets for going after Eric Rowe because I suggested it myself after Rowe's awful performance in the Bollinger Bowl. Rowe hadn't been getting any reps in the first two Eagles games, but when the Jets went deep with him on Smith, he was able to break up one and intercept the other in the end zone. In fairness to Smith, each of these passes was perhaps slightly underthrown and had he been able to keep accelerating rather than having to slow down to contest the pass, perhaps he would have got that deep separation.
The three catches he did make all came as he ran a hitch route on the outside. Teams will respect his deep speed, so that's something he needs to master. I always felt Stephen Hill was perfectly adequate at running those routes, but he had the disadvantage of quarterbacks that never seemed to make the throw on time, so at least that's something Fitzpatrick is good at. Smith did run a variety of routes and looked okay in doing so, although his hitch-and-go on one of those ill-fated deep passes did not fool the defender.
With the Jets not running the ball, the tight ends Cumberland and Kellen Davis didn't make much of an impact as blockers, although Cumberland still did have a couple of missed blocks, including one on a short yardage play. He caught two short passes, one for a first down.[/sny-accordion]
[sny-accordion title="To re-read the defensive and special teams BGA in full, click here"]Defensive Line
Was this a good performance or a bad performance by the Jets defense? On one hand, they allowed a 100-yard rusher, had a couple of key breakdowns and left the offense with some catching up to do. However, on the other hand, they posted a second half shut-out, held the high-powered Eagles to just 231 yards and 14 of the points they gave up came on a punt return and after a turnover left the Eagles with a short field.
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?
The Jets would have got the ball back with about 30 seconds left had Quinton Coples not been called for an illegal hands to the face penalty on third down. Coples did have his hand up around the neck area of his blocker, although it was well away from the play.
The call was somewhat surprising, given the fact that linemen from both teams had been doing the same sort of thing throughout the game. On this particular play, Coples didn't shove back his man with the same kind of aggression as Brandon Graham did earlier in the game when he looked like he was trying to snap D'Brickshaw Ferguson's head back like a pez dispenser. This wasn't even the most egregious example of Coples himself doing that, because he had done it earlier in much more aggressive fashion while double teamed on a stretch run.
Coples didn't register much pressure, only once getting to Bradford when he stepped up, but it was hardly surprising because Coples only actually got a chance to rush the passer eight times. As I mentioned in the previous article, the Jets ran a lot of 3-3-5 personnel groupings which meant that Coples did not start and only played half of the snaps. Even when they went to 4-2-5 it was primarily with Calvin Pace and Muhammad Wilkerson as the ends. This wouldn't be a match-up issue because although the Eagles have good tackles, Coples got plenty of reps - and did well - against two good tackles in Joe Thomas and Anthony Castonzo. I wonder if Coples was being punished because of comments he made during the week about how easy it is to slow down the Eagles' offense.
Coples did make a handful of nice plays against the run, but was driven off the line a couple of times, including on Darren Sproles' short touchdown run.
Also in the firing line is Demario Davis. On the face of it, Davis had one of his most productive games ever, with 13 tackles - many close to the line - and a fumble recovery. However, he was burned for a touchdown on a wheel route, had a costly unnecessary roughness penalty, gave up another big first down in zone coverage and was caught up in traffic on a few plays in the running game. He also got pancaked badly on one other run.
The Eagles set Davis up for that touchdown pass, not - as the announcers said - with the earlier wheel route which was dropped - but with an earlier route to the flat. On the flat route, Davis closed on the receiver and he dropped it with Davis set to make the tackle anyway. On the touchdown, the route started with the same angle and Davis closed in similar fashion, but Mathews kept going upfield and Davis no longer had an angle on him. The wheel route in between those two plays which was dropped was a different coverage and the receiver was open because both Davis and safety Calvin Pryor covered the man in the slot where one of them should have gone with the back.
On yet another wheel route late in the game, David Harris was burned in similar fashion for another drop. I'm sure this is something they'll work on a lot in practice this week. For Harris, that was a rare mistake in another pretty good performance. He stuffed several runs, made a couple of plays in coverage and forced a fumble. Harris totalled 10 tackles and almost had an interception too.
Pace did a good job of setting the edge but had a pretty quiet game overall. He did record two pressures, although he was unblocked on one as Sam Bradford threw the ball away.
On the inside, it seems like Erin Henderson and Jamari Lattimore are taking turns in regard to who gets defensive reps. This week was Henderson's turn but he didn't do much.
Finally, it was fantastic to see Lorenzo Mauldin back out on the field so soon after his head injury. Mauldin recorded his first NFL tackle and also had a hit on Bradford after he was flushed from the pocket by interior pressure.
It had been an encouraging start to the season for Calvin Pryor, who of course had his first interception last week. Unfortunately, this game showed that he still has some considerable room for growth.
As noted in the previous article, Pryor had a blown coverage in a mix-up with Demario Davis, but he also took a bad angle on a couple of plays, a habit I was hoping he'd started to overcome. By far his biggest issue, however, was that he kept coming up towards the line of scrimmage on running plays but then getting blocked out of the play on the edge.
Pryor did have quite a few nice plays, including a tackle for a loss on a screen pass where he did well to avoid the block. However, if he's going to improve upon his consistency, he needs to anticipate plays better and be careful not to underestimate the speed many players have at this level.
At the other safety position, Marcus Gilchrist had a quiet game, but that's okay. All three of his tackles happened downfield and he was blocked out of a few plays, but in terms of being in the right position and avoiding any obvious mistakes, he carried out his role well.
At cornerback, there was a warning sign very early in the game as Darrelle Revis didn't get a clean jam in pass protection and Nelson Agholor got a step on him over the top. The throw went elsewhere though. Revis was only targeted twice and both were incomplete, although a perfect pass likely would have been completed, so it wasn't the blanket Revis coverage to which we've become accustomed. Revis suffered yet another minor injury towards the end of the game, which is starting to become troubling. Hopefully he doesn't miss any time, because elevating everyone one spot will make the secondary look a lot weaker.
Antonio Cromartie posted good numbers too but, again, wasn't entirely convincing. Targeted four times, all four were incomplete but one of them should have been a touchdown as he was beaten by a couple of steps and the pass was overthrown. He also had a nice diving pass break-up, but he easily could have been called for defensive holding on the play and was still basically beaten only for the throw to be a little late. He actually was called for holding on one other play. Cromartie did have good coverage on one third down incompletion, but otherwise, his coverage numbers don't really tell the whole story.
In the slot, Buster Skrine had some issues, giving up two first downs - on a timing route and a crosser with a legal pick play. He was beaten on one other play where the pass was underthrown and called for pass interference on a throw down the sideline where he grabbed the receiver's wrist. Still, he was in on a tackle in the backfield and made a stop at the goal line and one good play in coverage.
This week, the Jets changed up their little-used dime package so that Marcus Williams was in the game on a four cornerback look. That meant no reps for Jaiquawn Jarrett.
I've registered my concern about the special teams units a few times since the start of preseason but, truth be told, they haven't been that bad so far. However, one disastrous unit-wide breakdown proved to be a game-changer. Instead of a 3-0 game with the ball deep in their own territory and their offense stalling, the Eagles were gifted a 10-0 lead and, as we're all painfully aware, this Jets team is not really built to come from behind.
Credit to Darren Sproles, I guess, who made a spectacular play on the return, but he left a litany of tacklers strewn across the field on his 89-yard punt runback. The guilty parties: Kellen Davis, Bilal Powell and Tanner Purdum, who missed tackles, Devin Smith and Erin Henderson, who overpursued, and Ryan Quigley, who out-kicked his coverage.
I guess the Jets figure that special teams won't be a major factor most weeks, as indeed it was not in the first two games. However, a breakdown like this which puts added pressure on the offense does make you wonder if they perhaps should have made this unit a bigger priority.
For Quigley, it was the second straight week where his one bad punt undermined an otherwise pretty consistent performance. I know Jets fans are growing tired of these mistakes though, so I wonder if the coaches are.
Kick coverage was otherwise good, as Buster Skrine made an immediate tackle in punt coverage and Henderson upended the return man with a hit in kick coverage. Smith and Marcus Williams operated as primary gunners with Williams downing a punt at the one-yard line. He did have a bad missed block though on one return.
Perhaps galvanized by his increased offensive role, Jeremy Kerley showed some good elusiveness on a couple of punt runbacks. Ronald Martin showed some good instincts to avoid a block in the back penalty on one of those returns. The kick return unit was a disappointment though, as Zac Stacy looked slow and not particularly elusive and Jaiquawn Jarrett got blown up trying to make a block. Stacy did get out near the 30 on one runback, but he basically just ran in a straight line and was untouched.
One thing to watch is that the Jets seem to be extremely aggressive in terms of looking for a punt block. Once again, Muhammad Wilkerson was in on one and almost got home, together with Jarrett. Quincy Enunwa and Tommy Bohanon are also candidates to block one (or, perhaps, commit a costly roughing penalty). Enunwa was pretty close on one.
Finally, Nick Folk did well to nail a 53-yard field goal and had two successful point-after tries and a touchback, but the elaborate onside kick routine was a bit of a bust.[/sny-accordion]
Here are the links to each of this week's BGA articles:
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