BGA: Chargers at Jets – Part Two (Defense/ST)

Bent , TheJetsBlog.com

This analysis is based on watching and re-watching TV footage. As such, it is not always possible to accurately determine everything that was going on. However, every effort has been made to ensure that the information below is as complete and correct as possible.

We’re recapping yesterday’s disappointing game against the Chargers. If you missed part one, go here.

After the jump, we look at he positional analysis for the defense and special teams…

Despite giving up 27 points, the Jets defense performed well in this game. Only 10 points came on drives where the Chargers started off in their own half. The other 17 came on a punt return and two drives that began on the Jets’ 38 and the Jets’ 19 yard line.

The Jets picked up four sacks, held Philip Rivers to a 50% completion percentage and held the Chargers under three yards per carry with no 10 yard runs. However, they allowed two touchdown passes from outside the 30 and failed to create a turnover, so it wasn’t enough to give the Jets’ shorthanded offense a chance to win.

Let’s break down each player’s performance…

Defensive Line

Muhammad Wilkerson continues to make plays all over the place and is developing into a cornerstone piece for this defense. He had another sack (albeit a cheap one, as Rivers slid to the ground in front of him) and almost got to the quarterback a handful of other times, including one where he drew a holding penalty and one where he batted down a pass. As always, he made plays and got penetration in the running game with one tackle for a loss and three other plays at or near the line of scrimmage. He was only blocked out of a couple of running plays. Wilkerson has played every snap for the past few games.

Fellow youngster Quinton Coples continues to develop too. He had 1.5 sacks and a couple of QB hits, although he once again got penalized (although they incorrectly called it on Wilkerson again) for hitting the quarterback in the head. In the running game, Coples is still a work in progress. He was blown off the line on one play and then forced to the inside on the next play at one point in the first half.

Mike DeVito had a quite game, assisting on two tackles, although he did generate two pressures. He did blow up one play with penetration but was also driven off the line once or twice.

Sione Po’uha had another pretty solid performance. He had three tackles, all of them close to the line of scrimmage. However, he did get blocked to the ground on one cutback run and missed a tackle in the hole in the second half.

Kenrick Ellis is continuing to work his way back from his knee injury. He made a bad mistake jumping offside, but did use his bulk to bottle up a couple of running plays.

Linebackers

Let’s give David Harris some credit this week. I’ve been somewhat critical of Harris at certain points this year, but he was a big reason behind the defense’s performance against the run. Harris had 10 tackles, one for a loss and five close to the line of scrimmage. He also made a good open field tackle on a pass play. He didn’t generate any pressure as a pass rusher and there was one play where he got caught inside and another where the runner drove him for extra yardage, but other than that, he made positive contributions.

As is often the case, Harris’ solid performance coincided with one of Bart Scott’s better displays. I’ve been resigned to the fact that Scott will be a cap casualty in the offseason, but recent rumors suggest he might be prepared to return for a lower salary. While he has struggled in a lot of the games this year, they could be attributed to his toe injury and he has had several good performances that suggest he has something left, so it might make sense for him to stick around and mentor Demario Davis for another year. Since week four, he’s only missed two tackles. In this game, he had a sack and a couple of other pressures, as well as a tackle for a loss and two other tackles close to the line of scrimmage. He also took out some blockers, including one in the first half where he took out the fullback on the left side and Harris swept in behind him to clean up with the tackle for no gain. He even ran deep with Antonio Gates on one pass play. There were only a couple of plays where he was blocked out at the point of attack, but otherwise it was difficult to find fault with his performance.

Calvin Pace had a pretty quiet game on the outside, although other than getting beaten for a first down in coverage, he didn’t really make any mistakes. He ended up with five tackles including two close to the line of scrimmage, but only got close to Rivers twice as a pass rusher.

Bryan Thomas made his return to the lineup but only lasted five plays. Garrett McIntyre had more of an influence, with 0.5 sacks, a pressure and a couple of tackles near the line of scrimmage.

Demario Davis played just two snaps, but almost got to Rivers on a pass rush.

Defensive Backs

Team MVP Antonio Cromartie had a disappointing last home game of the season, as he was beaten over the top for a 37-yard touchdown. Cromartie seemed to be in good position, but then lost sight of the ball in the air and allowed it to go over his head. He also gave up too much room on a 4th and two situation, leading to an easy completion on a quick slant. However, he was in good position on a deep incompletion and made yet another solid open field tackle on a 3rd down dump-off pass.

The other starting cornerback, Kyle Wilson, gave up a couple of first downs and had a costly penalty on third down, but at least managed to keep everything in front of him this week. He did make one good play in run support.

The fact LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell only combined for four tackles is perhaps as much a sign of the strong play by the front seven as anything else. Bell did miss a tackle though. Landry was tested a few times in coverage, with mixed results.

Eric Smith obviously stood out for the wrong reasons again, with Antonio Gates easily beating him across the field for a 34-yard touchdown. However, Smith was playing him with outside technique the whole way, suggesting he thought he’d have some safety support if Gates broke across the field the way he did. I’d have to get a look at the coaches film to tell whether someone else blew the coverage there. From what I could tell, Cromartie’s man, who lined up on the opposite side to Gates, ran a deep post pattern, so the safety on the right hand side might have been drawn out of position by that.

Also at safety, Antonio Allen played seven snaps and had one tackle.

Finally, Ellis Lankster suffered a head injury early on and this meant that Darrin Walls was the third cornerback. Walls was activated from the practice squad a couple of weeks ago. He didn’t do a bad job, other than when he was called for holding on third down. You couldn’t tell from the TV footage whether or not that was a good call, because if there was a hold, it happened off-screen. Walls dropped an interception in the first half and broke up a pass in the fourth quarter, only for Wilson’s penalty on the same play to render that moot. He was also in good position on one other target.

With Revis set to return next year, the battle for roster spots at the bottom end of the roster will be interesting with Lankster, Walls, Donnie Fletcher, Isaiah Trufant and Royce Adams all in with a chance.

Special Teams

Yet another special teams breakdown saw the Jets give up a touchdown on a punt return. Lankster and Landry got down there fast, but the return man avoided the intial wave and it looked to be Lex Hilliard who got drawn out of his lane and caught inside.

On the positive side, Jeremy Kerley and Joe McKnight each had a good return and Davis and McIntyre did some good work on the coverage units. The Jets also almost blocked about four punts but, unfortunately, you don’t get anything for “almost” in the NFL.

I believe Kerley actually set the NFL record for fair catches in one season during the game. Considering that, it’s unbelievable that he managed to get himself called for an illegal fair catch signal penalty. That pretty much sums up the season when you have a guy who has done something more than any other player in NFL history and still can’t do it right.

Conclusions

With one game to go, it’s difficult to be optimistic after another disappointing loss. The Bills have not been playing well recently, so let’s hope it’s at least competitive.

It’s the last chance for some of the younger players to make an impact before next season and I wonder if the Jets will treat this game differently because they’re on the road. I hope the Jets are prepared to give guys like Schlauderaff, Harrison and Bush some reps, but I’d still expect the main nucleus of the current team to get the bulk of the action.

Once it’s over, we can get into “what happens now?” mode, but until then I’ll be back to recap next week’s game as usual.

Seasons greetings to all BGA readers. Don’t forget to hit me with your BGA questions in the comments section and I will answer them for you in BGA Extra in a few days.