Preseason BGA: Jets at Lions – Part Three (Defense: Front Seven)

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.

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

We’re breaking down last night’s 26-17 loss to the Lions. Part one is here and part two is here. Here in part three, we’re focusing on the defensive front seven.

Join me after the jump as I attempt to cover every angle. It’s good to be back!

The defensive performance was pretty solid last night, with the Lions held to just 3.0 yards per carry and less than six yards per pass attempt. This unit, especially the defensive line, was what everyone was eager to see and they didn’t disappoint, although hopefully they didn’t even scratch the surface of their capabilities last night.

Let’s look at the individual player evaluations.

Interior Line

Muhammad Wilkerson immediately showed that he’s ready to build on last year’s stellar performance. He blew up a couple of runs with good penetration and then contributed as a pass rusher too, recording a sack and then getting into the backfield again for a pressure. There was only one run where he got blocked out of the play, but other than that he looks set to make a similar impact to last year.

In the middle, Kenrick Ellis got the majority of the first team reps and he looked really good with plenty of penetration. There were a couple of times where he missed the tackle in the backfield, but then someone else was able to clean up behind him. He also batted down a pass. The only time he was driven back off the line was by a double team. Hopefully he can sustain this into the season.

We’d been eager to see first round rookie Sheldon Richardson in action and the youngster did well here. He never really got a chance to show off his speed in pursuit, which I was anxious to see, and didn’t get much penetration, but I didn’t see him blocked out of a play and he did make a couple of good plays in plenty of playing time. On one of the plays where Ellis penetrated and the runner eluded him, Richardson came off the edge to make the stop for a short gain, showing explosive quickness over a short distance. On another play, the quarterback tried to scramble and he shed his block expertly to make the stop for another short gain. He had one other tackle on a five yard run.

Richardson also got reps with the second unit where Antonio Garay was at nose tackle. He got into the backfield for one pressure. However, he was outshone on the second unit by Leger Douzable. Douzable was excellent against the run, blowing up several plays. He also added a pressure for good measure and didn’t have any obvious negatives. Damon Harrison also rotated in with this unit, but didn’t make any significant impact.

The third unit got into the game in the fourth quarter. Junior Aumavae stood out, but mostly just because of his incredible hair. Still he made a nice play to spin off his blocker and meet the runner in the hole for a stop, although he was handled well on another play. Alongside him Lanier Coleman showed strength and power as he got into the backfield for a pressure. Finally Tevita Finau seems to be more athletic than those two and he made a nice play where he initially overpursued, but then recovered to catch the runner from behind.

On passing downs, the Jets usually reverted to a four man front with Wilkerson and Quinton Coples on the inside and Calvin Pace and Antwan Barnes on the outside. You can expect Garrett McIntyre and Ricky Sapp to fight for reps there. As Bassett noted this morning, they also lined up with five down linemen in a pass rush situation. From left to right: Coples, McIntyre, Wilkerson, Richardon, Barnes.

Edge Rushers

As advertised, Quinton Coples had plenty of plays where he lined up on the edge, often standing up. And, as expected, he wasn’t called upon to do much in the way of coverage. Coples was credited with a sack, batted down a pass and made one outstanding play coming off the backside edge to stuff a run for no gain. While he is playing on the edge, I’m confident he’ll produce as a pass rusher. It’s a bigger deal how he fares in the running game. He did get blocked out of a couple of plays here and allowed Reggie Bush to get to the edge on the play where he hurdled for a first down, so that’s an area he’s going to have to work at. As noted, he played on the inside on passing downs.

Antwan Barnes got off to a bad start by jumping offside twice, but then bounced back to record a handful of pressures. As advertised, his burst off the edge is impressive and he also gets a good head of steam when bullrushing. Coples’ sack was really down to him as he got hold of the quarterback in the backfield and the quarterback escaped and collided with his teammate before going down. On one third down play, he hustled across the field to make a good open field tackle on a screen pass to force a punt, but that was the only non-pass rushing thing he did.

Backing up Barnes was Ricky Sapp, who also jumped offside twice. Both these guys will now be under pressure to not do that and they’ve got to ensure it doesn’t slow down their get-off. Sapp’s best moment saw him blow by his man on the outside and chase the quarterback from the pocket, but he beat his man into the backfield two other times – although one of these was negated by his own neutral zone infraction – and also almost had a sack coming off the edge unblocked. He does need to continue to work at improving against the run, as he was unable to influence many of the running plays while he was in the game. Most importantly of all, this was a big deal just for Ricky to get to this point. It was his first preseason game since 2010, so clearly this is the healthiest he’s been during camp for three years. Hopefully this gives him the best chance to finally live up to his potential.

Calvin Pace got the start and beat his man once around the outside, although there was a quick throw made so no pressure recorded. On another play Pace was fooled on a playfake. The Jets should know what they’re getting in Pace by now. Garrett McIntyre had a couple of pressures but may have got hurt because he didn’t play much.

Sean Progar-Jackson and Troy Davis both played on the edge but didn’t have much success in the way of pass rushing. Davis did make a good open field tackle on a cutback run, but Progar-Jackson was slow to react to a receiver coming across in front of him in zone coverage and allowed him to turn upfield for a long gain.

Finally Jacquies Smith recorded one pressure, but did get badly fooled when the Lions ran an end around on 4th and one and he was caught inside.

Linebackers

The most encouraging thing from the linebackers came early in the game when Demario Davis took on a blocker, Bart Scott style, to completely blow up a run and David Harris came in behind him unblocked to make the tackle for a loss. If they can do this on a regular basis instead of just the once, then we’re in business!

Davis did make a good open field tackle when the quarterback scrambled, but still seems to be a slight work in progress in coverage. He was involved in a blown zone coverage, made a bad read on a screen pass (blitzing when the back stayed in, only for him to then leak out and be wide open) and gave up another first down. However, there was one play where he was in good position out in the flat.

Harris looked great on the tackle for a loss and was right with his man on an incompletion to the outside on third down, but did have one missed tackle. He’s a guy the Jets need to bounce back this year. He played the first few series whereas Davis got some extra reps with Nick Bellore on the second unit.

Bellore has issues with getting off blocks in the running game and did miss a tackle, but usually makes a couple of good plays and this game was no different as he recorded a pressure and made a good tackle on a short pass to force a punt.

The next man up was Danny Lansanah. He was also blocked out of a few running plays, but forced a couple of punts with good coverage and a tackle on third down. He also drew a penalty.

Jojo Dickson got into the game but didn’t make an impact.

Part four will cover the secondary and special teams. We’ll be posting this in a few hours.