Despite Cam Newton’s productive day, with over 220 yards passing by halftime, the Jets didn’t actually do a bad job in coverage. As noted in the previous section, it was on short passes where they got carved apart and that comes down to tackling, avoiding blocks and taking good angles.
I actually disagree with Dan Dierdorf’s analysis on the DeAngelo Williams long touchdown pass. He criticized Ed Reed for taking a bad angle, but for me the fault there lies entirely with Dee Milliner. Milliner had plenty of time to get off the block, but Brandon LaFell did a good job. What was unforgivable is that if you can’t get off the block in that situation, you cannot allow the runner to get outside you. With the angle Reed took, he was obviously assuming Milliner would at least block off the sideline and force Williams back inside. If that happens, Reed makes the tackle at the 30. If Reed takes the conservative angle, he’s making the stop at about the 10 or 15 yard line, with Milliner being driven into his path the whole way.
Darrin Walls and Antonio Allen each also had a bad missed tackle that led to a first down, while Dawan Landry took a bad angle on one play and was blocked out of another at the second level and Milliner had another play where he wasn’t able to get off a block on a reverse. In terms of coverage, the Jets did a reasonable job of containing the Panthers, it’s just these plays where they make an open field mistake that turns a big gain into a bigger one or a short gain into a first down that sunk them yesterday.
In coverage, Milliner acquitted himself well, often going against veteran Steve Smith and tackling him for a short gain on one play. He did give up too much of a cushion on one play that picked up a first down, but other than that gave up just one short catch. He is absolutely getting better and is the Jets’ most-improved rookie over the second half of the season, but he does need to be able to get off those blocks otherwise teams will continue to exploit that. He’s also missed seven tackles since week eight, having only missed one in the first eight games.
Despite being a gametime decision, Antonio Cromartie wasn’t picked on much by the Panthers. He gave up one first down on a play where he was too far off and was hit with a defensive holding call, but made a good tackle in the flat on a screen pass and wasn’t otherwise targeted. He also deserves credit for calling a timeout when the Jets had a defensive mismatch near the goal line.
Other than his “bad angle”, Reed had another quiet game as teams continue to avoid throwing his way. His influence still seems to be mostly reflected in Milliner’s improvements since his arrival (five passes defensed since Reed arrived, only two prior to that).
Landry had a couple of hits that nearly knocked the ball loose and made a couple of good contributions in run support but did give up a big first down and, as noted, had some issues in the open field.
In the slot, Kyle Wilson was beaten for a couple of first downs, but did get in on a tackle in run support.
Allen did have a couple of good plays in coverage, Jaiquawn Jarrett had a tackle for a loss on a running play stretched out wide and Josh Bush saw action again in the goal line package. The Walls missed tackle came on his only snap, while Ellis Lankster – who apparently would have started if Cromartie couldn’t play, saw no action and injured his jaw on special teams.
Next up…after last week’s blocked punt, the Jets get a taste of their own medicine.