New Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said this week that he hasn't really started bringing the pressure with his play-calls yet.
All that changed on Thursday night.
Actually, it didn't matter because he was getting plenty of pressure from his defensive line, but Williams turned up the heat in the second game of the preseason. The Jets were all over Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in a 22-10 win in Atlanta. They sacked him three times on the 17 times he dropped back to pass, and pressured him on almost every other pass. He was still 10 of 14 for 118 yards thanks to his talent and a porous Jets secondary. But by the time he left, one thing was clear:
This Jets team can really bring the heat.
A lot of it came from the dynamic duo of Henry Anderson and rookie Quinnen Williams, both of whom were dominant at times against the Falcons - an impressive feat considering linemate Leonard Williams missed the game thanks to a hip injury that limited his practice time this week. Neither had a sack, but they were close on a number of occasions. Williams had one play where he took out former Giants guard Jamon Brown with one violent shove, just sending him several steps back and to the ground. It was a heck of a display of power from the rookie.
It wasn't just the starters, either. When Anderson and Williams went out, third-year pro Bronson Faukusi brought the pressure, causing enough chaos to help Brandon Copeland and Avery Williamson rip off back-to-back sacks.
The other Jets sack of Ryan came on a big blitz up the middle from safety Jamal Adams. Expect to see a lot of that this season, as Williams unlocks all the things he believes Adams can do.
It was an impressive display, regardless of the circumstances. Williams probably dialed up the blitzes to see if he could make up for all the problems in the Jets' secondary - problems that Ryan exposed anyway. It's doubtful he unveiled all his tricks, of course, and it appeared that most of blitzes were fairly simple.
If that's true, then this was a great sign of things to come for when he finally really does bring the pressure he wants to bring.
Here are a few other takeaways from the Jets' second preseason game …
- Jets QB Sam Darnold had another fine preseason outing. He completed five of seven passes for 47 yards. But the numbers weren't the impressive part. What stood out is how he did it - under relatively constant pressure behind a patchwork offensive line. Darnold was missing four of the five starters in front of him, and it showed on nearly every play. Yet the pressure didn't rattle him. And it didn't stop him from making plays. He is fantastic at eluding the rush, getting out of the pocket and still getting the ball to his receivers. His field awareness is off-the-charts. His footwork is outstanding. And his speed is a little underrated. He's not exactly a running quarterback, but he showed again that he can make plays on the run.
- Adam Gase is determined to prove Robby Anderson is more than just a deep threat, and he showed a little bit of that against the Falcons. Anderson caught a first-down pass on a beautiful back-shoulder throw from Darnold on the first drive. And later, he caught a slant over the middle on which he took a brutal (and possibly helmet-to-helmet) hit. Yet he held on and got up trash talking. That showed a lot of toughness.
- When the regular season begins it will surely be the Le'Veon Bell Show (more on that below), but the Jets would be wise to use the versatile Ty Montgomery as much as possible. He had a nice game (7 carries, 36 yards) and showed his awareness on a one-yard touchdown run that looked like it was supposed to go up the middle, but ended with him seeing nothing there and bouncing outside.
- New kicker Taylor Bertolet picked up where old kicker Chandler Catanzaro left off, by missing not one, but two extra points. Ugh. The Jets like Bertolet, but surely won't have a high tolerance for mistakes. It's a good bet at this point that their Opening Day kicker isn't on their roster. It's also a reminder that the Jets had a Pro Bowl kicker a year ago, but GM Mike Maccagnan didn't re-sign him and he eventually got a four-year, $15 million deal from Seattle. That decision looks worse and worse.
- RT Brandon Shell was a late scratch with a knee injury, thrusting rookie Chuma Edoga into the starting lineup. He had a lot of trouble with Falcons LB Vic Beasley, who frustrated him with his speed and at times simply overpowered him. He'll get better. It's a great learning experience, if nothing else.
- Bell did not play again, and might not play at all this preseason. He's certainly not playing in the fourth game, so it's either next Saturday against the Saints or not at all. The Jets are obviously being very careful and taking it slow with their $52.5 million star, but either way it's a gamble. Bell's last game was Jan. 14, 2018 - 19 months ago. He says he feels refreshed after his year off, but there's just no way to know how his body will respond to football until he actually plays. No, they don't want to get him hurt before he's ready. But they will certainly play him on Sept. 8, and ideally they'd want his body to have at least gotten used to the pounding a little by then. It might be worth a few snaps next Saturday night and a few plays, even if they just have him run some routes as a decoy.