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 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
In the first two preseason games, we didn’t really have anything to evaluate Cromartie on, other than an interception on a freak play. This game was a bit more instructive. He played exclusively on the right and quite a bit of press coverage. He was only targeted twice, with one being a deep ball to AJ Green where he was stride for stride and looking back for the ball the whole way. It should be noted that there was a lot of downfield contact though and Green was angry not to draw a flag. The other target was a wobbly throw out to the flat on 2nd and long as the quarterback got nailed. Cromartie closed on Green, who made the catch, and tackled him for a four yard gain. Cromartie did badly miss a tackle on a screen pass though. Interestingly, the Cardinals used him (and Peterson) in the vice role on punts. He let a guy get past him on one play that ended with a muff and was called for a hold on another though.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Chicago
Holmes made his first appearance for the Bears and played 20 snaps. He was matched up with Seattle’s third best corner, Jeremy Lane, on two consecutive targets in the third quarter. First of all, he picked up a first down on a quick slant and then he got separation on the outside, but the pass was thrown behind him and he only got fingertips to the ball as he reached behind him. Holmes looked pretty sharp on those two plays but has he enough time to show the injury-hit Bears he deserves a roster spot?
Joe McKnight, RB/KR, Kansas City
McKnight was activated from the PUP list this week, but didn’t make much of an impact. He was unlucky though because there were two plays where he was wide open for an easy checkdown with 20+ yards of open field ahead of him and the quarterback just didn’t see him. In the end, he carried twice for eight yards and had a five yard reception. He also returned one kickoff but got stuffed at the 13 and committed a holding penalty on a punt.
Jacquies Smith, OLB, Buffalo
Smith played 18 snaps in the second half and made two good plays against the run. He fought off a block from a tight end to stuff a run for no gain and got off his block on the outside to help stretch a run to the outside. He didn’t generate any pressure in six pass rush attempts and was called for an illegal use of the hands penalty on a running play. He remains in the mix for a roster spot, much like Marcus Dowtin was this time last year.
Dan Carpenter, K, Buffalo
Carpenter did the placekicking again, but not the kick-offs. It really does seem like the Bills will carry two kickers this year. On the day, Carpenter just hit two extra points.
Billy Cundiff, K, Cleveland
Cundiff also just had two extra points. He did kick off though and had one touchback. His other two kicks were not returned to the 20.
Royce Adams, CB, Cleveland
Adams just played two defensive snaps after his struggles last week. He was not targeted.
Aaron Berry, CB, Cleveland
Berry was the third cornerback for the Browns, playing a total of 28 snaps. He got beaten by Jared Cook for a 21-yard gain on a crossing route as he tried to play press coverage and ended up trailing him across the field, although that was negated by a penalty. However, he wasn’t directly targeted other than that. In the second half, he did have one missed tackle downfield, enabling a receiver to dive forwards for five or six extra yards.
Austin Howard, G/T, Oakland
Howard continues to look pretty solid, but not infallible, as he makes the transition to guard. He had no penalties and no pressure allowed on 33 pass plays per PFF, but to some extent that was attributable to double team help and quick release passes. There was one occasion where his man got upfield on him, another where he was driven backwards by a bull-rush and a third where he was cleanly beaten by an inside move, giving the lineman a clean run at Matt Schaub, but on each occasion the pass was released just before the pressure got there.
As a run blocker, he was pretty spotty, missing a couple of blocks in space and letting his man get off his block and in on the tackle on a few plays. Other than one play where he missed his block on the edge, these were minor negatives though. In Howard’s defense, it didn’t help that Menelik Watson, the right tackle with whom he’s been trying to get his chemistry down, left early with a hip injury.
Both as a run blocker and pass blocker he looked much better after half time, although I guess this might just be attributable to the Packers removing their starters from the game.
Robert Malone, P, Washington
Malone’s job seems safe after Washington cut his competition, Blake Clingan, during the week. However, he was in the same situation last year with the Jets and only lasted two games. In this game, he put one punt from the 40 into the end zone and had one short punt returned for a 29-yard net. He did put one 45-yarder inside the 20 though.
Danny Lansanah, LB, Tampa Bay
Lansanah took an opportunity to start and grasped it with both hands. He had five tackles including one for a loss and one for no gain and burst into the backfield to blow up a run, drawing a hold in the process. He also had one pressure as a pass rusher, as he blitzed from the slot to disrupt a dump-off pass to the flat. He did miss one tackle though and was blocked out of a couple of plays in the second half, but on the whole looks like he belongs out there.
Scott Solomon, DE/OLB, Tampa Bay
Solomon beat his man outside for a sack with 30 seconds to go, although that was the only time he generated pressure in 24 attempts. In the running game, he was caught inside on a run to the outside and kicked to the outside on a run up the middle for 18. He did see action in the first quarter, but there is plenty of competition at defensive end for the Bucs, which is where he is exclusively being employed this year after Tennessee’s previous attempts to make him into a linebacker (an actual linebacker, not just some hybrid like Quinton Coples).
Lowell Rose, DB, San Diego
Rose saw some decent fourth quarter action in this one and held up pretty well. Interestingly, they initially employed him as a safety, matched up almost exclusively on a “move” TE, but then put him at left cornerback. He was in on a few tackles, but didn’t get credit other than for an assist in punt coverage. The only time they threw his way was a communication breakdown where the QB threw a corner fade and the receiver came back to the ball. On one play he was announced as being flagged for a defensive hold, but a review of the play shows that the penalty was actually called on his teammate. He was blocked out of the play at the second level on this touchdown.
Derek Dimke, K, New Orleans
Having been the starter last week, Dimke saw himself working the second half this time. He made his only kick, a 45-yarder. Dimke also kicked off twice, with one touchback and one deep in the end zone but with a long return. He was named as a potential break-out player in a SOE article this morning, which also suggests they expect Dimke to win the role.
Ryan Spadola, WR, Miami
Spadola again only saw action briefly (nine snaps) but did flash with a 27 yard catch late in the game. That came on a 3rd and 11 post pattern where he got a step on his man and dragged him for extra yardage after the catch. This set up the winning score.
Vladimir Ducasse, G/T, Minnesota
Ducasse remains on the second unit as their right guard and again was pretty solid in his 18 snaps of action. He made some good contributions in the running game, including a couple of good blocks pulling to the outside. He also didn’t give up any pressure, although as you can see on this touchdown he had to use his athleticism and arm length to prevent pressure off the left side. For the third straight week he was involved in one of the most amazing plays I saw all week, but this time he was on the wrong end of it. Ducasse looked to pull left but the nose tackle (Dominique Hamilton) just shoved him into the runner knocking them both flying for a four yard loss. That was really a blown assignment by the left guard, but still pretty amazing to see.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Philadelphia
For the third straight week, Sanchez was efficient in leading the Eagles to two touchdown drives and putting up solid numbers in the process. He ended up 7-of-9 for 85 yards.
To be fair, Sanchez wasn’t all that impressive on the first drive, although he did make one nice throw down the middle for a 15 yard gain. He had two inaccurate throws for incompletions and was sacked on a play where he was too indecisive. However, the Eagles got a first down on a penalty on that play and did the rest of the damage on the ground.
The second drive was much more impressive. He hit a well timed throw downfield to a receiver coming back to the ball and then threw a great pass down the seam for a 25-yard gain despite a hit which tacked another 15 on for roughing. After a few shorter passes, he hit his receiver coming back to the ball again for a 14-yard gain down to the one and again the drive was finished off on the ground.
The Steelers starters were in the game for both drives and Sanchez was operating with second team personnel. The Eagles have already announced he won’t play in the last preseason game, so we can close the book on his excellent preseason with a completion percentage of over 80%, a QB rating of 112.5 and a yards per attempt average of over nine.
Non-contributors this week
TE Terrence Miller, who was with the Jets at mini-camp, signed with the Patriots and went straight onto injured reserve. Browns CBs Isaiah Trufant missed his second straight game with an injury, as did Chiefs LB Josh Mauga (groin). Bucs OL JB Shugarts, Cardinals LB Jojo Dickson, Raiders WR Rashaan Vaughn and Steelers RB Miguel Maysonet only saw action on special teams. Washington DL Jake McDonough, who also only played special teams this week, was released after the game, perhaps with the hope that he’d clear waivers while everyone else is making cuts and could then be snuck onto their practice squad. However, the Jets seem to have been keeping tabs on McDonough, so watch this space.
This list is supposed to be exhaustive, but if you’re aware of anyone I missed, please let me know in the comments!