BGA Extra: Jets at Patriots

Welcome to BGA Extra, where I draw a line under the previous weekend’s game by responding to your questions from BGA during the week. After the jump, I respond to your questions about the game against the Patriots. If you would like your questions answered in future, remember to read BGA each week and leave your question in the comments section.

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BGA: The Expendables – Regular Season Update #2

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

Every year, teams have to let some players go. Even though the Jets did bring back some of their free agents (Jeff Cumberland, Darrin Walls, Nick Folk, Leger Douzable, Calvin Pace), they chose not to bring everyone back. Throughout the preseason, we kept track of the progress on the guys they let go to start to form some views on whether letting any of these guys loose was a mistake or a smart move. Now we’re into the regular season, we can provide our second update on how these players are faring…

Some stats from PFF are used in this article and throughout the series.

Antonio Cromartie, CB, Arizona

Cromartie had a rough game two weeks ago against the Broncos, matched up against DeMaryius Thomas. Thomas had been struggling to produce, but exploded for over 200 yards against Cromartie, who was targeted 15 times, almost as much as the other six games combined. Thomas beat Cromartie for touchdowns of 86 and 31 yards, plus gains of 28, 24, 20 and 19. A bigger receiver like Thomas is usually the kind of match-up Cromartie handles well, but on this day, left on an island, he struggled to stay with him on crossing routes and got beaten over the top a couple of times. On one play he jammed Thomas at the line but Thomas fought off the jam to get a release outside and over the top.

Other than that one game, Cromartie has been extremely consistent and has good coverage numbers, giving up a reception on just 47 percent of his targets and breaking up a pass in every game apart from one. He also only has three penalties, while his teammate Patrick Peterson has eight. In yesterday’s game he did give up a few first downs and was lucky on one play where he got flagged for pass interference but then they picked up that flag, even though there was contact before the ball arrived.

Santonio Holmes, WR, Chicago

Holmes has been playing a backup role for the Bears, but hasn’t had a major impact yet. He’s caught just seven passes for 56 yards and returned seven punts for a 5.7 yard average. He did break a 22-yard punt return a couple of weeks ago. His longest catch of the year was a 15-yarder in week two, the only catch he’s made on six targets more than 10 yards downfield. Since then, he has just three catches for 15 yards.

Joe McKnight, RB/KR, Kansas City

After a great performance against the Dolphins in week three (6-64-2TD receiving), it looked like McKnight had resurrected his career. Sadly, he ruptured his Achilles tendon in practice the following week, ending his season. It looks like he’s going to have to rebuild his career one more time.

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BGA: Scouting Percy Harvin

Earlier today, the Jets officially announced that they have traded a conditional draft pick for former pro bowl receiver and kick returner Percy Harvin, as had been reported yesterday. While Harvin is a well known player, I’ve been reviewing recent footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.

After being drafted with the 22nd pick of the 2009 draft by the Vikings, the 26-year old Harvin, who is listed as 5-11 and 200 pounds, entered the league with a bang, winning the offensive rookie of the year award and making it to the pro bowl. He was an exciting player in his first three seasons, averaging over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and scoring 24 touchdowns, including four on kick returns. Since 2011, he’s only started 13 games due to injuries and while he’s still been productive on a per-game basis, he hasn’t had the same kind of impact. Nevertheless, at the start of last season, the Seahawks traded multiple picks including a first rounder to acquire Harvin and then gave him a $67m contract extension. While he barely played last season and hasn’t been very productive in 2014, he did showcase his big play ability in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory over the Broncos in February.

After the jump, observations from reviewing footage from Harvin’s career so far to evaluate his strengths and weaknesses with a particular focus on his disappointing production the last few years and the factors influencing this. To read more of this story, click here

BGA Wrap-up: Jets at Patriots

Last night’s TV coverage built up to the game with a textbook hype package, voiced by Don Cheadle:

“It’s the rivalry that never gets old, only better!”

Moments later a wide open Shane Vereen fell into the end zone to give New England a 7-0 lead and I thought to myself “It just got old”. However, the inevitable blowout never followed and, in many respects, you could say the Jets outplayed the Patriots the rest of the way.

While a moral victory is pretty worthless, I’m not sure that actually winning the game would have been that much more valuable in the grand scheme of things. It would have been nice to beat the Patriots, but realistically the Jets’ playoff hopes were already pretty much done. Hopefully we can still get them at home later in the year. Now the schedule looks a lot kinder over the rest of the season, we should at last see the Jets start to win some, but it seems destined to be too little, too late.

There are links to each BGA article or the option to read the offensive and/or defensive BGA in full after the jump.

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BGA: Well, whadda Geno?

In unexpected fashion, Geno Smith put forth an encouraging performance, devoid of any major mistakes and with some of the decisive play that had been lacking from his game over the past few weeks. Is this the real Geno or merely a mirage?

I must confess, however, that several times during the game, while I was thinking to myself “Hey, Geno’s actually playing pretty well!” his stats flashed up on the screen and I was left thinking “Is that it?” That’s notable because there are more instances in the past of Smith (or Mark Sanchez) seemingly playing really poorly and then when you see their final numbers, they actually don’t seem as bad as you’d have expected. Maybe it’s just a function of the fact that my expectations had been lowered so far that a pedestrian performance actually seemed like a great one by the standards to which I’d become accustomed.

I don’t want to say that though, because I did see some positives from Smith’s performance. Still, he was five-for-seven for 48 yards against a prevent defense on the final drive without which his final numbers would have been very underwhelming indeed: 15-for-27, 178 yards, one touchdown.

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BGA: Brand new Oday

Brian Winters had struggled so badly over the last year, that some people were suggesting you could put anyone in there at left guard and the Jets would be better off. With Winters’ season-ending injury last weekend, the Jets are forced to test that supposition by turning to last year’s fifth round pick, Oday Aboushi, for his first career start.

Aboushi, who only converted to guard in the offseason after having been inactive 16 times as a backup tackle in 2013 had appeared briefly in a couple of games and his performances there, along with some of some preseason struggles over the last few years, left little in the way of signs that he’d be able to step right in and hold his own. However, while he won’t grade out too well due to some errors, Aboushi’s performance was actually pretty good and the line looked cohesive despite the short week of preparation.

The line provided Geno Smith with much cleaner pockets than they had been over the past few weeks and while they gave up five sacks (two of which were negated by penalties), each of these came after they had initially blocked well and the protection only broke down when the quarterback held the ball for too long. The run blocking as a unit was also much improved and the results – 218 yards and a touchdown on the ground – speak for themselves. What was Aboushi’s part in all this though?

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BGA: Get your motor running

The Jets running game was firing on all cylinders this week, making it seem all the more baffling that they’ve seemed so impotent over the last few weeks. Of course, improved run blocking was a factor and we’ll be discussing that later on. The Patriots don’t have the strongest front seven in terms of run defense either. Still, 218 yards on the ground is pretty good going.

Chris Ivory had a great game, with 107 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, including three runs over the right side for 12 or more yards. He had three broken tackles, 55 yards after contact and some good cutback reads. While it took him a while to get going, Chris Johnson also looked as good as he has since opening day, with 61 yards at an average of 4.7 yards per carry, picking up some tough yards in the second half.

Both Ivory and Johnson have 12 catches on the season. Who would have predicted that with Johnson entering the season with a 272-to-5 “edge” in that category? Ivory did in fact have the lead on him for this year until Johnson caught two short passes to kick-start the final drive.

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