Preseason BGA: Bollinger Bowl – Part Two (Defense/ST)

Leger Douzable, Nick Foles

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

Welcome to Bent’s Game Analysis, which 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.

BGA is back…and this time it’s preseasonal (again)!

We’re breaking down last night’s game against the Eagles extra early, so that you get a chance to read it before they start announcing the cuts. Part one is here. In part two, we’re focusing on the defense and special teams.

Join me after the jump as I attempt to cover every angle.

After last week, where I talked about how the Jets installed a lot of game planning on defense, it was back to a more straightforward approach this week. The thinking behind that is probably that they don’t want to give away any more of their game plans to the Bucs and Pats, who they play within the next two weeks.

There were basic pass-rush packages this week (although they did blitz a lot, as Rex is wont to do in preseason) and not much in the way of interchanging the inside backers or safeties and rotating personnel. Still, they generated a lot of pressure and made some good plays.

Interior Line

Earlier in preseason, I was raving about Junior Aumavae, who had really impressed me in his work with the backups. He earned the start today, but sadly seemed to really struggle. Maybe he is hitting the rookie wall or something because he was driven well off the line, turned around and blocked to the ground many times without generating anything in the way of penetration or pressure. I was thinking he was a lock for the practice squad, but hopefully he didn’t play himself off it with this rough game.

I’ve also been raving about Leger Douzable since the Jets signed him. It would seem his spot on the 53 is safe after a game where he had two sacks (although one was incorrectly ruled as an incompletion). He almost had another, but missed the tackle in the pocket and also tackled the quarterback for a short gain as he scrambled. In the running game, Douzable was actually blocked out of quite a few plays, although he’ll see fewer double teams when alongside the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson. He did make one tackle for a loss and blew up another run with penetration.

Antonio Garay has had a pretty quiet preseason but made some waves tonight as a pass rusher. He had two hits on the quarterback and almost had a sack, missing the tackle in the pocket. He also assisted on a run stuff and recovered a fumble. However, he also found himself badly driven out of the play several times in the running game. Pass rushing has always been his strength, but he’s never been bad against the run, so it’s pretty surprising to see that. Maybe he was going through the motions to some extent and will lift it another gear for the regular season.

Backups Tevita Finau and Lanier Coleman got some reps in the second half. Coleman gets a good push in the pocket and was in on one run stop, while Finau did penetrate well on one run but was driven off the line in a short yardage situation.

Edge Rushers

Ricky Sapp, Nick Foles

Ricky Sapp had an outstanding game tonight. You’d expect him to generate some pressure going up against backups (and, sure enough, he had a strip sack, two hits, five pressures and a batted down pass, despite often dealing with double teams). What’s more promising is that he also made three good plays against the run, while also avoiding any negative plays. For the first time in his career, he has made it through preseason unscathed and finally looks set to be a contributor, even if just as a rotational player in the early going.

Neither Jacquies Smith or Troy Davis started, with the Jets instead opening up with a three safety alignment, but both got loads of reps at the outside linebacker position, either opposite Sapp or while he was on the sideline. Each had a couple of pressures and Smith added a forced fumble. Davis did have a missed tackle on third down to keep a drive alive.

Linebackers

Nick Bellore would leave the game early with a knee injury (not believed to be serious), but up to that point he was having a great game. He had a pressure, a tackle for a loss and was in on five other tackles near the line of scrimmage. He also made a good open field tackle and assisted on a third down stop to force a punt.

Ryan Spadola, Jordan Poyer, Danny Lansanah, Ellis LanksterAlongside him, Danny Lansanah made some noise too. He had three pressures, a big hit in the backfield and was in good position in coverage on a pass that was dropped. However, he did make a few mistakes, including a missed tackle on third down. He also jumped offside and got beaten for a first down in coverage. Special teams play is going to be the deciding factor for Lansanah to make the team, but it’s tight and even if he makes it, he could be one of the first guys to go if they make a successful waiver claim. The fact Josh Mauga has been injured all preseason helps his chances.

When Bellore left the game, Jojo Dickson filled in. He badly blew one coverage, but was in good position on another on third down and did pressure the quarterback twice.

Cornerbacks

Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster made the start with Darrin Walls missing the game for personal reasons. Lankster needed the reps after missing last week’s game with a minor foot problem (now resolved). They were actually only targeted once each with the pass being dropped in each case. Obviously Antonio Cromartie has one cornerback spot locked down, but any of Lankster, Wilson, Milliner and Walls could end up as the other starter. Each one has a strong case – in fact, based on preseason performance, Lankster and Walls probably deserve the position more than the two first-rounders.

Royce Adams, Isaiah Trufant and Mike Edwards got the rest of the reps. Adams gave up three catches in five targets but only one went for a first down, as he made some good tackles including one to force a punt. Trufant will get credit for breaking up a pass, but he was pretty lucky on the play, as he didn’t get his head turned around in time and it rebounded off his helmet. He did get beaten for one first down, but made a good open field tackle on his other target. As for Edwards, he was beaten for one first down and in good position on an overthrown pass. He also made a good open field tackle on third down to force a punt.

Safeties

The Jets started with all three of their non-Dawan Landry safeties in the game and all three of them played the whole game as this is still a position where the depth chart is not finalized. Jaiquawn Jarrett was effectively used as an outside linebacker at times and did plenty of rushing off the edge. He had two hits and a pressure that led to Sapp’s sack. In run support he was in on three stops near the line and in coverage he broke up a pass. He did give up three catches, but only one went for a first down.

Jeff Maehl, Antonio AllenAntonio Allen made the biggest splash with his interception return for a touchdown to essentially ice the game. Up to that point he’d had his ups and downs. He gave up one first down and was beaten on two other plays where he was bailed out by a poor pass. He also missed a tackle and got blocked out on a bubble screen. He did have a pressure, a good play in coverage and a good open field tackle though. The game didn’t end too well for him, as he was called for pass interference in the end zone and then missed a tackle on the edge to lead to a touchdown on the next play. On balance, Jarrett outplayed him, but the playmaking ability he flashed by jumping that route for the decisive score might be enough to win him the job.

It doesn’t seem like the Jets intend to revisit the idea of having Josh Bush as the deep safety and playing Landry in the box. After all, they have no real experience of playing together. Still, Bush made an athletic play to break up a throw to the end zone and made one other good play in coverage. He also got beaten for two first downs, although one of these came as Adams’ man ran a crossing route and he passed him off to Bush.

Special Teams

I don’t know how they will decide who won the kicking competition. Nick Folk made two extra points and a 28-yard field goal, whereas Dan Carpenter made one extra point and a 45-yard field goal. Carpenter’s kick was pretty close to the upright, although his kickoffs were more impressive than Folk’s have been. Your guess is as good as mine here.

The punter and long snapper jobs are already settled. Tanner Purdum did his usual solid job whereas Robert Malone did land two of his four kicks inside the 20, but also had a poor one drift out of bounds from near his own goal line.

Special teams can make or break careers for anyone on the bubble and Zach Rogers and Ryan Spadola each didn’t help their cause in the fourth quarter when Rogers badly muffed a punt and Spadola almost fumbled away an onside kick. Spadola did get downfield for a good special teams tackle though, after Lankster got down there first and slowed up the return man.

Other than Rogers, Wilson also looked tentative in the return game, especially when fielding punts. Edwards was called for a hold. In coverage, Rontez Miles had a big hit following a missed tackle by Allen.

Conclusions

I’m reluctant to draw any conclusions from the last game of preseason, because it’s difficult to project what someone does in this last game onto a regular season game with starters playing and game planning in place. The likes of Jesse Chatman, Vernon Gholston and the guy whose incredible comeback win in 2005 is the reason for title of this post (Brooks Bollinger) have excelled in this game in the past, but were unable to replicate that kind of success in the regular season.

Some guys certainly helped their cause, including Sapp, Michael Campbell and Matt Simms. At the same time, others may have hurt their chances, for example Jason Smith, Rogers and Ben Obomanu.

I’ll be back a week on Monday with the first BGA of the regular season, hopefully recapping how the Jets shocked the world by beating Darrelle Revis and the Bucs. After all, they’ve won three in a row – how bad can they be?

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