Preseason BGA – Jets “at” Giants 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: Following your feedback from last week, I’ve decided to continue 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 Giants. After the jump, Part Two looks at the performance by the defense and special teams and also draws final conclusions.

Defensive Line

Let’s start, as we did last week, with Quinton Coples. He was in the starting lineup, although I think that was more of a gesture than anything else. Once again he made a handful of impact plays, which are hopefully good signs that he can be productive this season. However, it was a slightly more uneven performance from Coples this week, as he was knocked back off the line a handful of times, most notably on a 3rd and short conversion in the first quarter. On the plus side, he had a hit and a sack and showed incredible strength to tackle a runner in the hole with no more than a handful of his jersey. He was disruptive, getting some good penetration, including on one play where the runner had nowhere to go and was swallowed up for a loss. In the second half, he was double teamed a lot.

In last week’s game, Coples got all the defensive headlines, but I shone a light on the performances of Kenrick Ellis and Muhammad Wilkerson. This week, neither of them were quite as dominant. Wilkerson was double teamed almost exclusively and sometimes was driven off the line as a result. He also jumped offsides once. However, he did stuff a couple of runs, including one for a loss and got into the backfield on a couple of other plays. Ellis was blocked to the ground a few times, but did hold his ground at the point of attack for the most part and did blow up a handful of plays with good penetration. He looked good on a bull rush against the pass.

The other starter, Mike DeVito, bounced back from last week’s quiet game with a much more impactful performance. DeVito got into the backfield several times, including in the pass rush, where he had a QB hit (on a throw that was intercepted) and a pressure. He also stuffed one run for a loss and shot a gap to redirect a runner on another play. He wasn’t perfect, as he got driven off the line or out of the play on a couple of occasions, but on the whole it looks like he is responding favorably to Coach Dunbar’s new techniques.

The backups were Marcus Dixon and Martin Tevaseu and both had their ups and downs. Dixon got some good penetration, but was also taken out of a couple of plays. Tevaseu had a QB hit and an assist in the backfield, but was also driven off the line a few times.

Jay Richardson didn’t have the same impact as last week, but did beat his man a couple of times and also helped stretch a running play out to the sideline. His only pressure came on the Giants’ only offensive touchdown of the game.

The only other lineman to get time was Damon Harrison who was so impressive last week. Harrison was down on himself for his performance, but – while he failed to match last week’s display – I didn’t see anything to get upset over, other than a couple of marginal plays where he didn’t immediately get off his block.

Linebackers

Bart Scott flashed in a big way for this one, stuffing several runs, including one for a loss and making good tackles in space. He also had a QB hit and even looked good in coverage. There was just one play where he overpursued, but other than that it was a real return to form. Early on, the Jets sent David Harris to take on the lead blocker a few times, but after that, Bart took over and did an excellent job of redirecting runs and taking out the fullback. We can’t expect impact plays from Scott every game, but if he’s doing that, there’s a good chance the run defense will regularly emulate this (58 yards on 32 carries) kind of performance.

When Scott is taking on blockers, it’s usually Harris that benefits. Here he was in on several run stuffs around the line of scrimmage, including one play that he blew up for a loss. His only negative was giving up a first down catch, but that came by virtue of yet another blatant pick play.

On the outside, Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace have not recorded any pressure yet this preseason. Thomas did shed his block to stuff a runner in the backfield and Pace was in on three tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage. Pace did give up two catches, but he made the tackle immediately to restrict these to short gains.

The pass rush isn’t coming from their backups, either. It’s been a quiet preseason for Aaron Maybin considering all the noise – literally and figuratively –he made in camp. He made one good play against the run, along with two negative plays. Garrett McIntyre has actually made more of an impact so far. He had another pressure, batted a pass down and drew a holding penalty. He also had a missed tackle but – like so many of his missed tackles when he led the team in last year’s preseason – this happened as he got into the backfield to disrupt the play and the runner was still stuffed for no gain.

The backups on the inside – Nick Bellore and Josh Mauga – both got caught out on the same pass play – Bellore missed the tackle and Mauga overpursued, leading to a big gain. Also, on the play where David Carr threw a long completion down the middle, Martellus Bennett ran right past both Bellore and Mauga and was wide open on the right side of the field. This pulled Antonio Allen, who otherwise might have been able to help out in coverage on the deep ball, out of position. Bellore did get in on a run stuff later on and Mauga came up the middle for a huge sack.

Demario Davis didn’t get as much playing time on defense this week. His best moment saw him get into the backfield to redirect a run. He didn’t make any obvious mistakes on defense.

Defensive Backs

The secondary obviously did well, holding Eli Manning to 62 passing yards on 14 attempts. Darrelle Revis was challenged deep and perhaps Victor Cruz had a step on him, but watching the replay it seemed like Revis was still in total control and knew that he had position to make a play on the ball if it was inbounds. He later did give up a short catch on fourth and one, although it was thrown where only the receiver had a shot at the ball, so there wasn’t much he could do about it. On one other target, he had blanket coverage and probably would have intercepted the pass if it were more accurate. I don’t think we need to worry about Revis right now.

Antonio Cromartie had a mixed day. He actually made some good tackles in this game, so perhaps that’s an aspect of his game that is getting better. On one play the receiver had a chance at a third down conversion with Cromartie all over him, but couldn’t make a tough low catch. On another, he made the tackle after a short gain. There was just one play where he gave up too much of a cushion to the receiver.

Both safeties showed up this week too. Laron Landry had an easy interception and was in on a tackle that went for a loss. He also had a big hit on Victor Cruz, although it should have been flagged and he will likely be penalized if he does that during the season. It’s likely he’ll be fined for that one. Bell also came up into the box in run support, making one tackle that prevented a possible long gain at the second level.

Kyle Wilson saw plenty of action, both as a slot cornerback with the first unit and on the outside with the backups. That may have been because Ellis Lankster left the game in the first quarter, presumably after re-aggravating his injured quad muscle (although that was, I believe the only injury issue, so that’s something positive). Wilson broke up a pass in the end zone, had blanket coverage on a downfield throw and tackled a receiver in the flat for a loss. However, he was also beaten for two first down catches. Also, the pass breakup could easily have been construed as interference by a fussier officiating crew.

Perhaps due to Ellis Lankster’s absence, Julian Posey and Isaiah Trufant got plenty of looks at cornerback. Trufant made a good play in run support and gave up two catches, making the stop short of the marker on third down on one of them. However, the other one was an easy catch for the receiver who ran a route across his face and had too much size for Trufant to disrupt his chances of catching the ball. Posey was burned on a completion down the middle, missed a tackle, gave up too big of a cushion on another pass that was dropped and was called for pass interference once. However, he did make a play in run support and broke up a pass. The Jets will need better consistency from both players if they’re to make the team.

At safety, Allen continues to show more than Josh Bush, who was drafted a round earlier than him in April. Could this be another Andre Maddox/Kerry Rhodes situation where the less heralded player turns out to be the better pro? Allen worked as the deep safety at times, with Bush sometimes in the box.

Most of Allen’s best work came against the run. He made four tackles close to the line of scrimmage – two for a loss. He also had a pressure as a pass rusher. As noted earlier, he was pulled out of position on Carr’s deep throw, but that was only because he was the only person to recognize that Bennett was uncovered. Bush had another quiet game, but didn’t get exposed in coverage or anything.

The one breakdown in the secondary came on the Giants touchdown with a dump off pass to an uncovered full back in the flat. It’s impossible to tell who was responsible for the receiver leaking out, but Allen and Bush basically got in one another’s way and Posey didn’t have time to come off his man fast enough to prevent him getting in at the pylon.

Guys like Ryan Steed, Donnie Fletcher and D’Anton Lynn did not get any defensive reps this week.

Special Teams

Considering the Jets lost 26-3, this has been pretty positive so far. This is not surprising considering the fact that the problems were mostly on offense, which was covered in part one. That’s about to change, though, because there were some major issues on special teams too.

Punter TJ Conley punted as if he was trying to make Wayne Hunter feel better yesterday. Only one of his seven punts came from outside his own 30-yard line, so this wasn’t a situation where his average would be restricted by being too close to the opposing team’s end zone. Even so, his longest net punt was just 46 yards and that was his last punt, which was underhit and rolled several yards.

As you may recall, I created a metric called ANPP (Adjusted Net Punt Percentage) to more accurately evaluate punter performance. On the ANPP scale, anything approaching 70% is elite, approximately 65% is average and anything approaching 60% means your job should be in jeopardy. For the preseason so far – and, although this statistic is effective even when there’s a small sample size, Conley has punted 12 times which is a reasonable sample – Conley is right at 60.2%. Barring a surprise turnaround, I think the Jets’ 2012 punter is probably currently in the process of narrowly losing a punter battle somewhere else.

The kicking game wasn’t much to write home about either, with the only attempt being a Josh Brown chip shot that went in via the upright. Both Brown and Nick Folk had a touchback though.

On the negative side, Joe McKnight had a roughing the kicker penalty to extend a drive, Josh Baker got called for a hold (although this was a weak call) and Marcus Dixon badly whiffed on a block. Davis and Posey both missed tackles on special teams and Posey also got torched by the gunner on one punt.

It wasn’t all bad from that group, though. McKnight broke a tackle on a 46 yard kickoff return, with Baker and Cumberland throwing good blocks. Davis did have one good special teams tackle and Posey did a pretty good job getting downfield as the gunner.

Josh Mauga also had a good special teams tackle and listen out for this name: Stanley Arukwe. The recently added wide receiver got some burn as a primary gunner and did a great job of getting downfield, forcing the return man out of bounds for no gain on one play. It’s the longest of long shots, but could he have a shot at being the next Wallace Wright? It will be interesting to see if they try and work him into some offensive sets this week.

Finally, let’s talk about Aaron Maybin. Maybin blocked a punt and also had a go at being a primary gunner. That’s a testament to how fast he is, because it’s usually a job reserved for speedsters. Maybin was double teamed the whole way and the defensive backs had to just fend him off as best as possible because if they tried to engage a block, he’d have just ran them over. He kind of bounced between the two of them like a pinball and, although this slowed him down, he was able to burst to the ball and get in on the stop as part of the second wave.

Conclusions

This was an awful performance from the Jets – preseason or not – and surely isn’t good for the morale of the fans and, more importantly, the players. Every time something positive happened, it seemed like some new problem arose.

Ordinarily I’d look for good news and remind myself that it doesn’t matter because it’s the preseason. This week, the fact it’s the preseason IS the good news. This literally doesn’t count –and, although it doesn’t do much for our optimism for the upcoming season – they haven’t fallen behind yet in real teams.

After last week, the hope was that certain areas for concern would improve, but right now there seems to be even more cause for concern – mostly on the offensive side of the ball. However, we’re all operating from an assumption that the Jets won’t be able to fix these issues because we’ve become accustomed to that in the Schottenheimer/Callahan era. This isn’t the Schottenheimer/Callahan era any more though, so it’s time to see if the new coaches can make better adjustments than the old regime were able to. If they can, then anything could happen.

After all, we know what happened to the last team that lost the Snoopy Bowl, don’t we?