Preseason BGA: Jets at Eagles Part Two
Bent , theJetsBlog.com
This analysis 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.
Note: Your feedback indicated you prefer me to divide BGA into two parts. Part One covered the offense and can be accessed here…
BGA is back…and this time it’s preseasonal (again)!
We’re recapping last night’s loss to the Eagles. After the jump, Part Two looks at the performance by the defense and special teams and also draws final conclusions.
Let’s start by looking at the battle on the inside. Martin Tevaseu and Damon Harrison got plenty of reps alongside Marcus Dixon and quite a few reps together as well (with Dixon also playing some defensive end). Early reports are indicating both of them are to be waived. Both played pretty well this preseason, but Tevaseu only has limited practice squad availability so may be out of options. In this game, Harrison – who showed great potential all preseason – had two pressures and affected three plays with good penetration, including one he stuffed for a short gain. Tevaseu stuffed two runs, but was also driven back off the line a couple of times. I’d give this round to Harrison although it was close between the two of them all preseason.
Given his limited eligibility, I’d imagine Tevaseu’s days as a Jet might be numbered, but the younger Harrison’s potential definitely merit a practice squad spot and a chance to be activated later in the season. He might even get some interest from other teams wishing to add him to their active roster.
Despite Harrison’s performance, it was Dixon who stood out the most on the interior, and then bolstered his performance with several plays from the end position. Dixon stuffed two runs, had a QB hit and two pressures and batted down two passes. He also affected a couple of plays with penetration and only got driven off the line twice. This was a good showing from a guy who will be part of the rotation during the regular season, but had been relatively quiet so far this preseason.
At defensive end (and also at outside linebacker), perhaps the best defensive performance of the day came from Garrett McIntyre. McIntyre led the Jets in tackles with seven, stuffed a run in the backfield for a loss, had two hits and two pressures as a pass rusher and did well in coverage, tacking three receivers in the flat for short gains. He also blew past his man for a third down sack, but the Jets decided to accept a holding penalty to negate it and saw the Eagles convert on third and even-longer. He had one missed tackle on a play where he slowed the runner up enough to enable someone else to make the play anyway and his only other negative moment saw him get caught inside on a play where the officials originally called a hold and then changed their minds. McIntyre seems to have done enough to make this team with the news that Ricky Sapp and Jay Richardson are among the final cuts.
Richardson made a lot of plays this preseason, albeit virtually all against backups. He strikes me as an average pass rusher, but since the Jets don’t have many better-than-average pass rushers, I’m surprised that wasn’t enough to get him a spot on the rotation. He had two hits and two pressures, as well as a tackle for a loss, but did get caught inside on the Eagles first touchdown and did have a missed tackle.
Quinton Coples was credited with one and a half sacks, but I’m going to call it two because the QB was already on his way down when Nick Bellore hit him to earn half an official sack. That was on the play where Coples was called for a late hit out of bounds penalty which seemed harsh (although maybe Bellore’s contact was worthy of a flag). Both his sacks saw him display a good motor to chase the quarterback out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage as he ended up with at least one sack in every preseason game.
Once again, Coples did appear to get gassed though and he wasn’t as dominant as he had been in some of the other games despite facing backups and third stringers. He did add a tackle for a loss and a batted pass though, and there was one play where he stretched a run out to the sideline well. His only negatives came towards the end of his performance with a missed tackle on a play he almost blew up and another play where he was driven to the inside by his blocker to set up a big run. Coples doesn’t look like he’s the finished article yet, but based on preseason he may already be capable of making more impact plays than anyone in the front seven. Let’s see if that carries over into the regular season.
Finally, Aaron Maybin played mostly at defensive end this week. In the first half, I was wondering to myself if he’s lost a step due to the extra weight he reportedly added. There were a few plays where his initial rush was repelled but he got off the block and those would have been plays where, last year, he burst to the ball to pressure the quarterback. This year, he just seems to have lost a bit of that burst. The nearest he got to the quarterback in the first half was when he beat his man and nailed the quarterback from behind after a play was blown dead. However, in the second half, he stepped it up a notch and picked up a hit and three pressures.
While it may be concerning that he did most of the damage against third stringers, he did total eight pressures over the last two games, so at least he is back to being productive. It doesn’t look likely that he’s going to emerge into the double-digit sack monster some were hoping after last season, but pass rush schemes tend to be pretty standard in the preseason, so perhaps he will thrive once these start to put him in a position to succeed.
Last week, I noted that the Jets might not have enough roster spots available to keep all of their good linebackers.
Due to his draft status and potential, Demario Davis is a lock for the final roster, but we were left to wonder whether there was room for both Josh Mauga and Nick Bellore. Mauga’s tendency to get caught inside was on display here and he was also taken out by a lineman for a big gain on a screen pass. However, he’s a guy the Jets have had for a while now and I think they trust him to fill in for David Harris or Bart Scott in the event of a short-term injury. I’m not sure they have the same faith in Bellore, who was a step slow in coverage on one pass and does have the same tendency to get caught up in traffic, but they wouldn’t want to get rid of their best special teamer. Bellore did have a QB hit, was credited with that half a sack and also had a strip and fumble recovery that was ruled down by contact, but probably should have been overturned.
Davis was thought to be a contender for immediate playing time, but I’m not sure if he’s ready yet. He had some good moments here with three QB hits and two run stuffs. He also drew a hold on a play that went for a 25-yard run, although this might have been a harsh call on the Eagles. There were also several negatives though – he gave up a first down catch, overpursued once, got caught inside a few times and was blocked out of the play on a screen pass. The potential is definitely there though, and it seems like drafting him has caused Bart Scott to raise his game too.
The only other linebacker to get any playing time was Marcus Dowtin and he was overmatched. He did stuff one run and had a QB hit, but he took too many bad angles, overpursued, and got caught inside and blocked out of plays. Giving up a 25 yard QB scramble on 3rd and 24 because he was drawn out of position by a decoy route into the short flat was pretty unforgiveable. He also gave up a touchdown in coverage. If the reports are true, he may land on the practice squad. There was some talk earlier in the offseason of a switch to safety and placing him on the taxi squad will give them the time to experiment with that sort of thing.
The Jets were planning to dress just five defensive backs for this one, only one of whom (Antonio Allen) is a safety. However, they re-signed cornerback LeQuan Lewis to give them some reinforcements. D’Anton Lynn was employed in the other safety position.
Of the six, Allen looked (and looks) like he has the best chance of being on the final roster. He made a good open field tackle on third down to force a punt, had one pressure and made a good tackle near the line in run support. There were one or two holes in the Jets zone coverage that Trent Edwards was able to exploit and Allen was involved in some of these plays and he also had a penalty, a missed tackle and got caught inside on the first touchdown. Allen does overpursue sometimes in run support, but seems to be good when chasing down a runner or meeting them head-on and his range is a little better than advertised.
The Jets still have an open spot at cornerback, assuming they plan to carry five. It would be unusual for them to carry fewer than that, although they may be planning to have three safeties in some of their nickel packages and Josh Bush does have experience at corner, so they might see him as a better emergency option than any 5th cornerback. Still, entering this game, Julian Posey and Isaiah Trufant were thought to be contesting that spot with Ellis Lankster locked in at number four despite his quad injury. Donnie Fletcher and, of couse, Lewis were considered long shots at best.
Sadly, neither of the top contenders covered themselves in glory in this final game. Trufant got beaten for three first downs and Posey was beaten for three and a touchdown. On that touchdown the quarterback was hit as he threw and the ball was up for grabs, but Posey wasn’t physical enough. Unnoticed to the officials, Allen could have broken this up but was taken out by the other receiver on what should have constituted a pick play, but they’ve not been calling those all preseason. Posey did have one good open field tackle, but that was his only real positive and reports suggest he won’t make the team.
Trufant had more positive moments, as the Eagles went after him a bit. He broke up three passes, made one good tackle in the flat and added a QB hit late on. That sounds like a pretty good game, but all of those breakups were near misses and any of them could have been called pass interference. He didn’t look comfortable and struggled to get his head turned back to the ball – one of them just hit him in the helmet , for example. For Trufant’s chances, all we can say is what we already knew … he seems too small to play cornerback against NFL players. Maybe they will keep him for special teams reasons, but I think they’d turn to Bush in the slot first in the event of an emergency.
The other two guys could have stepped up and made their case, but Fletcher gave up two first downs and was burned on another pass that was dropped. Lewis didn’t play as much but was also beaten for a first down. He did have good position on a throw to the end zone though. As for Lynn, he didn’t seem to do too badly at safety, but seemed a step slow to react in coverage and Edwards really exploited that fact when the Jets were in zone. All three of these are reportedly on the cut list.
Nick Folk’s preseason ended well, with a 58-yard field goal just before half time. He entered the season kicking well last year too and didn’t miss a field goal until November, but then was inconsistent over the rest of the season. Let’s see if he can keep it going this year.
The Jets brought in Spencer Lanning, who had been punting well for the Browns. I don’t know what happened because Lanning didn’t manage a single net punt of 40 yards in his four kicks, although he did land one inside the 10. His ANPP was a miserable 57%. TJ Conley wins the job by default, then, as his first two kicks were poor, but his last was a net 48-yarder. His ANPP was a much better 66%. Even so, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make another waiver claim over the weekend.
In the kick return game, White had one good kickoff runback, but all four of Royce Pollard’s punt return chances ended with a fair catch. Allen had one bad block in space.
In coverage, Lewis and Fletcher had good tackles, but Mauga, Tanner Purdum and Lewis all missed tackles on one return.
Am I concerned about the Jets’ 0-4 preseason record? No. In fact, it was “good” enough for them to earn a second placed tie just a game behind the division preseason winners, New England (1-3). However, the Jets do still have concerns over their run blocking, pass protection from the right tackle spot, the red zone offense and their playmaking ability.
However, we can also draw some positives from preseason. Offensive line depth looks to be improved, they have more of a pass rush threat without blitzing, they look to be capable of stopping the run and they appear to have avoided any serious injuries to major contributors.
For as much detail as BGA goes into, it was never the D’Anton Lynns and Caleb Schlauderaffs that would shape their season. It will come down to the big names – guys like Sanchez, Santonio Holmes and D’Brickashaw Ferguson – and whether they can play at their best or will end up suffering the same issues as last year.
We’ll see how the team fares when they unleash the full arsenal on the Bills in next week’s season opener – and how they cope with the Bills, who will not doubt be doing the same thing to them. Whatever happens, BGA will be here to analyze the fallout.
Shameless self-promotion: If you enjoyed this analysis, you’ll love our season preview, available on ebook or paperback – details here.