Bent, TheJetsBlog.comEvery year, teams have to let some players go. Even though the Jets did bring back some of their free agents (Jeff Cumberland, Ellis Lankster, Darrin Walls, Nick Folk, Leger Douzable, Calvin Pace), they chose not to bring everyone back. Although it’s only preseason, we’ll be keeping track of the progress on the guys they let go so we can at least start to form some views on whether letting any of these guys loose was a mistake or a smart move.
We’ll be aiming to cover all of the players and key coaches who were with the Jets during 2013 or 2014 and are now with another team. After the jump, a comprehensive list – which may of course grow as the preseason continues, with guys like Santonio Holmes and Ed Reed still searching for a job – of those who played during the first full slate of preseason games and how they fared.
Some stats from PFF are used in this article and throughout the series.
Antonio Cromartie, CB, Arizona
Cromartie only played six snaps against Houston and wasn’t targeted. However, he made headlines with an interception. This came as the pass was batted up at the line and deflected off two teammates and into his lap. This doesn’t really tell us much about whether he’s back to his old self, though.
Jojo Dickson, LB, Arizona
Dickson only played three snaps near the end of the game but made an immediate impact, coming totally unblocked on a blitz up the middle, sacking the quarterback for a safety. He’s obviously low down on the depth chart but that’s a good way to make your mark.
Jacquies Smith, OLB, Buffalo
Smith was one player who really impressed last weekend. He had a handful of good plays as a pass rusher. On one, he drove the left tackle back to flush the Carolina quarterback out, although the QB was able to scramble for a first down. On another, Smith used his speed to get around the left tackle on the outside. Perhaps most impressively, he drove the left tackle back into the quarterback for a knockdown. On another play, Smith flushed out the quarterback after coming unblocked on a stunt. He was forced inside once and had one missed tackle, but it was not costly. He also impressed with a great tackle in punt coverage and made a good wrap-up tackle for no gain on the edge. Could Smith be one who got away? We’d need to see more – and not just against backups.
Dan Carpenter, K, Buffalo
Carpenter made both his field goals. He still isn’t kicking off though, suggesting the Bills will carry two kickers this year, as I mentioned was a possibility last week.
Billy Cundiff, K, Cleveland
Cundiff made all four field goals, three from beyond 40 yards. He kicked off five times but only had one touchback and did give up a 49-yard return. Cundiff’s touchback numbers are particularly interesting because he’s the guy who went from having a bad touchback record, to curiously becoming the top guy in the league overnight and then pretty much back down again.
Aaron Berry, CB, Cleveland
Berry saw plenty of action working on the outside with the second unit. He played 34 snaps, had four tackles, a missed tackle, a penalty and a special teams tackle. After being called for defensive holding on a jam at the line on a play where he wasn’t targeted, Berry was too far off on a couple of plays where he gave up first down catches, missing a tackle at the marker on one. He did impress at one point with a pass breakup over by the sideline, forcing the receiver out as he made the catch.
Isaiah Trufant, CB, Cleveland
Trufant was working as the primary slot corner for the Browns. He did give up one first down on a play where he was too far off his man on third-and-5. He had a pressure on a blitz from the slot where he was unblocked, but did have to come a long way. I wouldn’t expect the Browns to end up choosing between Berry and Trufant because they play different roles, but I’d imagine both being on the roster is no less likely than neither of them.
Josh Mauga, LB, Kansas City
Mauga played more than anyone last weekend – 40 snaps – and was disappointing in his first game in almost two years. He did get in on four tackles, but was blocked out of several plays at the second level and got driven back in the hole by a fullback on a run blitz. He also got caught inside once. He did make one good tackle near the line but that was still a short-yardage conversion.
Austin Howard, G/T, Oakland
As anticipated, it was interesting to watch Howard playing guard for the first time. On a couple of plays he did a good job of initially driving his man off the line, although they were able to work off the block to get back into the play. Eventually, Howard managed to sustain the block and helped open up a hole for a 23-yard run. Other than that, the Raiders’ starters went 3-and-out every time. Howard mostly looked comfortable in pass protection although he did do some double-teaming and got some help from his back on one play. There were a couple of issues, though. He got bullrushed and driven back into the quarterback on one play; on another, he was doubling with the center and the right tackle lost leverage inside to surrender a sack. The tackle then seemed to be telling Howard he was expecting his help.
Remember, this has added relevance for Jets fans because Howard’s first regular season game on the interior will be the season opener against the Jets Sept. 7 at MetLife Stadium.
Robert Malone, P, Washington
Malone only got to punt once, sending a 43-yard kick to the 11-yard line, where it was muffed by the return man. Washington’s offense was surprisingly efficient against New England.
Jake McDonough, DL, Washington
McDonough played 10 snaps at the end of the game, an encouraging sign given that he had only signed with Washington about a week before. In the pass rush, he consistently drove his man back and got off his block to get a clean run at the quarterback on one play. McDonough also got some good penetration in the running game. On one play, his penetration forced the runner out wide where he was stopped for a short gain. He may even have been held on that one. After missing all of last year, McDonough looked really impressive and I’ll be shocked if he’s not at least on a practice squad come September.
Danny Lansanah, LB, Tampa Bay
Lansanah had two solo tackles and an assist in 16 snaps with the second unit. He had a good stuff for no gain on the edge and another play where he just about scrambled around/over a cut block to pursue across the field for a stop on a 6-yard run. He was on the Bucs’ roster at the end of last year and I don’t see too many players emerging to usurp him.
Lowell Rose, DB, San Diego
Rose saw action at the end of the game, playing 14 snaps on the outside. He was targeted twice, with both incomplete. One was more or less thrown away as he covered his man well on a rollout. Another throw to the end zone was well in front of the receiver as Rose cut off his route and the receiver did a poor job of reacting. Maybe the Jets regret releasing him to make room for Jason Babin on the eve of camp, given their current cornerback drought.
Derek Dimke, K, New Orleans
The Nick Folk kicking tree continues to bear fruit. Dimke made two short field goals and kicked off four times. He only had one touchback but did pin the other team back with an average start at the 18.3 yard line.
JB Shugarts, OL, Tampa Bay
Shugarts played 10 snaps with the third unit at the end of the game against the Jaguars. The most notable thing was that he got called for holding after giving up outside leverage on a rush off the edge. That play negated a 46-yard catch by rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He only recently joined the team so we’ll have to see if he can move up the depth chart.
Ryan Spadola, WR, Miami
Spadola didn’t get into the game until the fourth quarter. That doesn’t bode well for his roster chances, although none of the Dolphins receivers were especially impressive. Spadola caught a pass on a crossing route and turned upfield for 11 yards on second-and-14, but that was negated by a penalty. Another throw to him a few plays later was very wide, suggesting that perhaps he and the quarterback got their wires crossed on that one.
Miguel Maysonet, RB, Pittsburgh
Maysonet had three touches on his first series in the third quarter, but was stuffed three times as he was stonewalled by a lineman twice and had nowhere to go on a screen pass. He showed something on the next drive though, catching a pass in the flat, and avoiding the linebacker to drive low and dive for the marker, gaining nine yards and a first down. Another pass in the flat was behind him and off his hand.
Vladimir Ducasse, G/T, Minnesota
Ducasse, working with the second unit, had a series here that basically summed him up. He did a fantastic job on one play, driving the defensive tackle two yards off the line and then peeling off to pick up a linebacker coming up into the hole and drive him to the inside. That’s maybe as good of a block as I saw all week. The runner went through this hole for six. Then, on the next snap, he was drive blocking straight ahead but let his man get off his left shoulder to redirect the runner to the outside, where he was tackled for a loss.
In 34 snaps, Ducasse didn’t give up any pressure, although he was driven back by a bullrush on one play, but not as badly as Howard was in the Raiders game. Earlier in the game, Ducasse made an excellent interior kickout block although the runner ended up having to reverse his field to gain positive yardage after breakdowns on the rest of the line. On one other play, he didn’t sustain his block at the second level and his man got in on a short yardage stop. So there were some ups and downs, but he looked comfortable as he usually does when pitted against backups in preseason.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Philadelphia
Sanchez looked sharp in completing 7 of 10 passes for 79 yards on two touchdown drives with the second unit. The Eagles went three and out on his first drive as his only completion was a short one underneath. On the next drive he made a nice throw down the middle for a 34-yard gain dropped nicely over the middle linebacker’s head and in front of the safeties. Another completion to the outside got the ball to the goal line. Sanchez’s next pass to a wide receiver in the flat was rushed and low and led to a tackle behind the line, but the Eagles scored on a run on the next snap.
His next drive opened with a 15-yard gain on a checkdown after he had looked at and pump-faked to his first two options. On the next play, there was a communication breakdown and his quick throw was behind the receiver, who didn’t look back for the ball. After an easy play-action completion outside for seven and a long run got the ball inside the 10, he threaded the needle on a crossing route at the goal line (which probably would have been ruled a drop on a review), again setting up a rushing score on the next play.
Sanchez’s final drive was late in the half. His downfield throw under pressure was off-line and off the receiver’s hands. He then dropped a beautiful pass down the seam over the receiver’s shoulder but the ball came loose as he fell. That one would probably have been ruled complete on a review, but the clock would have run out. So the Eagles accepted a penalty instead and Sanchez threw a Hail Mary pass that was broken up. Many Jets fans wish Sanchez well but there’s always going to be that lingering concern that he’ll suddenly “get it” and we’ll regret losing him.
Non-contributors so far
TE Terrence Miller, who was with the Jets at mini-camp, just signed with the Patriots. He hasn’t played yet. DE/OLB Scott Solomon, CB Royce Adams (who just re-signed with the Browns) and WR Rashaan Vaughn only saw action on special teams and RB/KR Joe McKnight is still on the PUP list.
This list is supposed to be exhaustive, but if you’re aware of anyone I missed, please let me know in the comments!