BGA: The Expendables – Week 1

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

Every year, teams have to let some players go. Even thought the Jets did bring back some of their free agents (Lex Hilliard, Josh Mauga, Nick Folk, Tanner Purdum and restricted free agents Austin Howard and Jeff Cumberland), 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 that were with the Jets during 2012 or 2013 and are now with another team. After the jump, a comprehensive list – which may of course grow as the preseason continues with guys like Eric Smith and Bart Scott still searching for a job – of how these ex-Jets performed in week one of preseason.

Note that – if you were not aware, PFF is analyzing preseason games for the first time this year and some of their stats (ie snap counts) are used here.

Dustin Keller, TE, Dolphins

Keller didn’t start the second game, a comfortable 27-3 win over the Jaguars which could serve as a good measuring stick for when the Jets face the same team on Saturday night, as the Dolphins operated without him until midway through the first quarter, mostly going three wide or using Charles Clay at tight end. When he did get in – for one drive – Keller caught this 22-yard touchdown pass and had another catch for 24 yards. He also had another catch (albeit for no gain) negated by a penalty. The first catch saw him make a downfield catch down the middle and his touchdown (linked above) saw him make a low grab in the end zone as the safety in coverage didn’t look back for the ball. Once again, Keller effort as a run blocker wasn’t too bad, as they had a nice couple of runs on the three plays in which he was run blocking and he made a good kickout block on one of them.

Julian Posey, CB, Dolphins

Posey got plenty of work again and held his own well. He was thrown at eight times, more than twice as much as any other player on the Dolphins defense and while he gave up three catches, he was able to limit the damage to 14 yards with good tackling. On the first play of the second half, he closed well on a throw to the outside and was able to reach across the receiver to deflect the ball out of bounds and on one play in the fourth quarter he came off his man to make the tackle on a pass out to the halfback in the flat. He did get beaten on a couple of deep throws to Toney Clemons, but both ended up being incomplete as the first saw Clemons fail to keep both feet inbounds in the end zone and the other saw him unable to come up with the ball on a slightly underthrown pass that enabled Posey to close the gap. Posey does look like he has a shot at making the team, but special teams will be important and he did get manhandled and blocked out of a play on a punt return while operating as a primary gunner. Having said that, neither of the primary gunners on the previous punt return did much better and that was a long return too.

Bill Callahan, Offensive Coordinator, Cowboys

Callahan’s second game wasn’t quite so successful in terms of offensive output, but still wasn’t too bad. Although the starters only put three points on the board, they only ran two drives and both ended in field goal attempts (of which one was blocked). Those drives went for 75 and 64 yards before stalling as Tony Romo completed six of eight passes. Overall, Dallas racked up 291 yards, but only averaged 3.5 yards per carry on the ground. They only had three plays that lost yardage though, only one of which was a sack.

Tim Tebow, QB (?), Patriots

Tebow saw extended action at quarterback this week following a head injury to Ryan Mallett in the first half, entering the game late in the first half with the Patriots already 24-14 up. He “led” a touchdown drive to open the second half, although LaGarrette Blount did most of the work, with Tebow running for 12 yards and completing one pass for 17 yards. The run was a designed QB draw over the right side as he broke a tackle on 3rd and six and the completion was a dump-off screen pass. On the play prior to that he had hesitated badly with a man wide open and taken a sack. His numbers in the end: 4-for-12 for 55 yards and four rushes for 31 yards. In the first half, his first two passes were off target and his next one, after having been sacked on the previous play, was batted down. He completed a 15-yard dump-off to Leon Washington on the last play of the half with the defense backed off expecting a Hail Mary. He had a good 14-yard gain on a designed option run to the left and his best throw of the day saw him avoid the rush, roll out and find a man open coming back to the ball downfield for 15. He was sacked one more time, as he was far too hesitant to get rid of the ball all day and his one other completion was an eight yard dump-off on 3rd and 18. The Pats have yet to use him as anything other than a quarterback and their announcers described his performance as “not pretty”. However, he showed he can be a weapon on those option type runs and that continues to be the best use for him … exactly as I would have said 12 months ago.

John Conner, FB, Bengals

Good news/bad news here for Conner, who put together a solid display as a lead blocker and also leaked out into the flat for a 13 yard catch on 3rd and five. The bad news is that the fullback position doesn’t look set to be a big part of the Bengals’ offense this year and when they did use it in the early stages, they just put one of their tight ends in there. Conner didn’t get into the game on offense until midway through the third quarter. Still, he put forward a good case that he deserves to be on someone’s roster. He didn’t always find someone to block and let his man get off his block at the second level once, but definitely had more positive blocks than negative ones.

Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Bengals

No good news for Maybin here, who only managed to get in the game on defense for three plays. He got downfield well on punt coverage, but that was the only time I really noticed him. I’m not entirely sure how well he suits their 4-3 system anyway.

Tony Sparano, OL Coach, Raiders

A good start for the Raiders, with a win over Dallas. Sparano’s unit played their part, allowing just two sacks and paving the way for 116 rushing yards. However, if you exclude yardage attributable to Terrelle Pryor scrambling, then the Raiders averaged just 2.9 yards per carry so there is some room for improvement.

Chaz Schilens, WR, Lions

After all his big talk during the week, Schilens did nothing in the win over the Jets. The only time he was thrown to – negated by an offside penalty anyway – was on a deep ball where he had half a step on Ellis Lankster but the pass was thrown beyond his reach. Lankster clearly felt Schilens pushed off to get open. Unfortunately for Schilens, his main competition for the fifth receiver spot on the Lions, Matt Willis, had a stellar day with three catches for 51 yards and a score.

Jason Smith, OT, Saints

Smith’s preseason got off to a pretty good start as he didn’t give up any pressure in his 26 snaps of action. However, he didn’t get into the game until the fourth quarter (initially at right tackle and then moving to left tackle later on) and his competition for the starting left tackle position – Charles Brown and Terron Armstead – were both effective too. Brown got the start and appears to be leading the race. Smith’s footwork was good in pass protection although he sometimes allowed his man to get separation by not being able to keep his hands on them. In the running game, he looked good on the move, driving a guy out of a play and helping to set the edge for a 15 yard run by sustaining a block on a linebacker at the second level. He did let his man get off his block to get in on a tackle near the line though.

Jay Richardson, DE, Saints

Richardson had a good preseason last year with the Jets and showed up again here with two tackles, a pressure and a fumble recovery. He has a good opportunity following the injury to Kenyon Coleman but they didn’t just use him as a defensive end, he also played some outside linebacker, which is an adjustment for him having come from a 4-3 background. From linebacker, he dropped into coverage and made a stop after his teammate missed a tackle on the outside. He also showed good hustle to make the tackle on a screen pass downfield after initially rushing the quarterback. The Chiefs didn’t run it much with him in the game so he didn’t really contribute in the running game. He did beat the left tackle to flush the quarterback from the pocket on a three man rush though.

Darrelle Revis, CB, Bucs

No surprises here, as Revis didn’t play in the Bucs first game. Assuming they don’t give him many (if any) preseason reps, how rusty will he be when he faces the Jets in week one?

Matt Slauson, G, Bears

Slauson got the start for the Bears and was in the game for a few series at left guard. He then got another series (a three and out) at center with the second unit in the second quarter. The Bears only tried to run the ball once with the starting line out there, on a play where Slauson had no tackle on his left shoulder because the Bears went with an unbalanced line. On that play, Slauson’s assignment was to block down on a lineman and then peel off and block a linebacker at the second level, which he did, but another linebacker blew the play up for a loss in the gap he vacated. Either the design of the play or Slauson’s execution were at fault there. The rest of the time, they threw it, and Slauson was always double teaming with the center. The line as a unit looked like a bit of a mess in pass protection (one sack, one hit, three pressures in ten plays), but Slauson himself could not be directly faulted.

Mike DeVito, DL, Chiefs

DeVito got the start for the Chiefs, but they used him sparingly as he was only in for five snaps. He looked like his old self on the first two plays, getting good penetration, although the run went the other way. On his last snap, Ben Grubbs did drive him off the line, but the play was unsuccessful.

Bob Sutton, Defensive Coordinator, Chiefs

A solid start for Sutton’s new defense, as they held the high-powered Saints offense to just three first half points. The Saints did manage to rack up 427 yards as they dominated time of possession en route to a 17-13 win, but they were held to just 3.3 yards per carry on the ground. The Chiefs forced just one turnover.

Marcus Dixon, DL, Chiefs

Dixon got plenty of playing time for the Chiefs and got in on a couple of tackles, including one in the backfield, and had one pressure. He did miss a couple of tackles, although these were both positive plays as he shot a gap into the backfield and someone else made the stop for a loss after the runner eluded him in the backfield. He was well blocked on one play, as he was turned back to the inside by the right guard and then thrown down to the ground as the play ended, but that was more about a great job by the offensive lineman than anything Dixon did wrong – impressive stuff by Ricky Henry. Dixon’s issue with the Jets was that he was driven off the line too often despite showing promise in other areas and he managed to keep that sort of situation to a minimum in this game. There was one play in the second quarter where the opposing center drove him off the line, but it was a slow developing run behind the play and you could see Dixon was giving up ground as he made an effort to get off the block. Dixon showed some good quickness, especially in terms of shooting gaps, but also on a play where he swatted the guard aside and burst cleanly into the backfield to pressure the quarterback. Just as important, he seems to have worked hard on his strength as he was able to hold his ground and move laterally without getting driven off the line.

Martin Tevaseu, NT, Colts

MTV showed up well in the first game for the Colts, first entering the game on the first play of the second quarter and getting plenty of reps over the last three quarters. In a fine performance, Tevaseu was difficult to move on the line and several runs in his direction were bottled up. He also threw his blocker aside to stuff a run for a short gain and got a consistent push in the passing game. Other than one play where he missed a diving tackle at the line, but the play only went for a short gain anyway, he had no real negatives.

LaRon Landry, S, Colts

Landry picked up a knee injury in practice during the week and therefore did not play against the Bills. The Jets would be better off if he stays healthy because if he misses a load of games that could cost them a compensatory pick next year.

Mike Pettine, Defensive Coordinator, Bills

Despite the Bills’ blowout win, Pettine’s defense did give up 13 first half points and 4.5 yards per carry on the ground, while only forcing one turnover. They did hold the Colts to a 47% completion percentage. Although they didn’t generate that much pressure, despite blitzing 18 times, when they did generate pressure it was very effective with the Colts completing one-of-eight passes for three yards (per PFF) and getting sacked twice. The Colts had 224 yards at half time, but only 288 at the end, so much of these numbers were apparently due to the Colts’ lack of depth on offense.

Marcus Dowtin, LB, Bills

Dowtin played his part seeing reps in the second, third and fourth quarter and making some good contributions, mostly as a pass rusher. He came off the left edge to beat the fullback with an outside speed rush for a hit in the first half and then beat the right tackle for a pressure late in the game. He also blew up a screen pass by coming unblocked off the right edge and deflecting the pass. They only ran the ball five times with him in the game and one one of these plays, he stumbled and fell, allowing the running back to turn the corner. Dowtin was also in on two special teams tackles, but these had more to do with being in the right place at the right time than him getting downfield quicker than anyone else. His overall contributions would suggest he’s improved since last year, where he looked a bit out of his depth.

Ryan Steed, CB, Steelers

Steed just played in the fourth quarter, exclusively at right cornerback and almost always in off-coverage. However, the one time he was targeted, he was in press coverage and did a good job in terms of position and physicality. Ryan Nassib’s throw was way too high and probably a deliberate throw away as Steed was in a good position. Steed came up in run support on another play where the Giants ran a counter to the left. Although he missed the tackle, a teammate right behind him was able to make the stop at the line. Steed had one tackle, on a running play ten yards downfield.

Tracy Wilson, S, Titans

Wilson got into the game late in the third quarter and mostly played as a deep safety, where he didn’t get tested in coverage. He made three tackles – one as he crept up into the box to make a tackle in the hole on a four yard gain, one as Pat White was scrambling in the red zone and he came up to force him out of bounds for a short gain and one 15 yards downfield on the run that iced the game for Washington.

Shonn Greene, RB, Titans

Greene’s Titans debut was an unmitigated success. He only saw action on one first quarter drive, but that drive went 61 yards in 10 plays, culminating in Greene scoring on this 19-yard touchdown run, completely untouched through a huge hole. His other four carries on the drive netted 13 yards, including one where he made a good cut to avoid getting tackled for a loss and he also caught a 13-yard pass on a dump-off underneath that he broke to the outside for a first down. He did have one bad block in pass protection, but the quarterback was sacked by someone else’s man before his man could get to him.

Josh Brown, PK, Giants

Brown looks set to hang onto the Giants job despite missing a 38-yard field goal against the Steelers. He did make three field goals, including a 47-yarder, and an extra point. He also put all four of his kickoffs into the end zone, including two touchbacks. The other two were returned to the 18 and 26-yard line respectively.

TJ Conley/Spencer Lanning, P, Browns

Both these ex-Jets punted twice, so the battle is obviously close. Conley’s two punts grossed 80 yards and Lanning’s totalled 90. So, battle over, right? Nope, because Conley’s net average was 40 and Lannings was only 30.5. Each had a chance to put the ball close to the goal line from inside the forty, but Lanning put his into the end zone, while Conley’s was downed at the one. Lanning did have the longest punt of the day, though (49 yards, albeit with a nine yard return). Conley was the holder on four kicks, but Lanning only two (one of which – a 54-yard field goal – missed), suggesting he has the edge for now.

Terrence Ganaway, RB, Rams

Ganaway was a surprise scratch for the Rams’ first game. His injury was undisclosed, with coaches describing him as “merely dinged up”. With Ganaway in a battle for a roster spot, missing a game is not good for his chances.

Jonathan Grimes, RB, Jags

Grimes, who will face the Jets on Saturday, had a decent performance against Miami. First getting into the action early in the second quarter, he made the most of his six touches with three of them going for more than ten yards. He ended up with four carries for 19 yards and two catches for 25. He also had an 11-yard run negated. Grimes was very impressive, although most of his yardage came courtesy of good blocking. He did make some good cuts though. There was one play where he was stuffed on a delayed draw though and although he did okay in pass protection there was one play where the pocket collapsed and the quarterback had to scramble.

Hayworth Hicks, OL, Panthers

Hicks saw action on 25 snaps against the Bears, playing the entire second half at left guard, making some solid run blocks and looking good on the move. He had one excellent block when he turned his man to the inside, although later on when he tried to do the same thing, his man span off the block to blow up the play. In pass protection, he had some struggles, first allowing a big hit when he got confused and let a man blow right by him and then later allowing his man to get an early leverage advantage to collapse the pocket. He is certainly an impressive physical specimen but doesn’t look entirely sure of himself in space yet.

Daniel Muir, DT, Texans

Muir saw action in the second, third and fourth quarters and had one big highlight as he tossed the center aside and nailed the quarterback with a big hit. I wonder if he augmented those hand fighting techniques in the short time he worked alongside Karl Dunbar and players like Muhammad Wilkerson. He was in for 16 plays and the Vikings only ran the ball twice (for eight yards) on those plays. One run went to the outside and he was double teamed on the other. He got work at both nose tackle and defensive end and looked athletic and active.

Yeremiah Bell, S, Cardinals

Bell started for the Cardinals as they shut out the Packers. While that sounds impressive, they actually gave up an 86-yard drive on the only possession for the Packers’ starters, as they came up empty on a goal line stand by the defense. Bell played mostly as a deep safety but did get some reps in the box and covering the slot. He had one tackle, holding Jermichael Finley to a seven yard gain on second and eight as he came from deep and cut Finley low in the open field after a short catch.

This list is supposed to be exhaustive, but if you’re aware of anyone I missed, please let me know in the comments!