Preseason BGA – Panthers at Jets 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 Panthers. After the jump, Part Two looks at the performance by the defense and special teams and also draws final conclusions.
Let’s once again start with Quinton Coples, especially in the light of the comments made by Rex Ryan after the game. Coples started and got a ton of reps due to the absence of Mike DeVito and Ryan suggested he was worn out in the second half and perhaps felt he should have been rested. This sounds like tough love from Ryan, who has obviously identified the fact that Coples is motivated by talk that he doesn’t have a consistent motor. It benefits the Jets to keep that chatter alive and make sure he remains motivated, especially if there’s a realistic chance his effort level will slide.
So, how did he fare in his more substantial role? Were there signs that his effort in the second half was sub-standard? Obviously he had some good production this week, with a sack/forced fumble and three QB hits. Much of this came against starters too, which was something that skeptics had been quick to point out was not the case in the first couple of games. He also blew up or otherwise affected several other plays with good penetration. On the negative side, he did find himself caught on the inside when the Panthers ran to the edge several times and did get driven back off the line once. He also missed three tackles, although none of them were particularly costly.
It did look like he was tired down the stretch, but that was the case in the other games – and just like in those games, if he had a bad play, he usually responded positively. Hopefully, it’s a good thing that Ryan is pushing him so hard. If he can produce like this in the regular season, the Jets are going to want him to be capable of playing a lot of snaps.
Kenrick Ellis was another who made a lot of impact plays. He had two tackles in the backfield, a batted pass, half a sack, a QB hit that led to an interception and a pressure. He did also have another tackle near the line and showed good instincts when he snuffed out a screen pass. However, this wasn’t his most consistent performance of the preseason, as he was driven off the line at least three times and lost the battle at the point of attack on one run. Ellis seemed to be getting all the double teams that Muhammad Wilkerson was getting last week.
So, could Wilkerson respond to having fewer double teams? Absolutely. He was able to hold his ground at the line of scrimmage all day and didn’t really get blocked out of any plays, doing a good job of stringing one out to the sideline and blowing up another by getting penetration into the backfield. It was good to seem him generate some production as a pass rusher too. He had two hits and two pressures, one of which led to a sack. His only black mark was not being able to stop Cam Newton in the open field when he scrambled for a first down early in the game.
Marcus Dixon had some good moments too, albeit almost exclusively against backups. He had a QB hit and a tackle for a loss, as well as getting some good penetration. However, like Coples, he did find himself caught on the inside a couple of times.
Jay Richardson was in the right place at the right time to pick up half a sack and get in on two tackles for short gains, but didn’t really make anything happen while he was in there. Martin Tevaseu was more impressive, stuffing two runs. Damon Harrison remains hot on his heels though, stuffing one run and getting in on another stop in a short amount of playing time. Neither of them gave up any significant ground at the point of attack.
One major positive this week was the ability of the Jets to generate pressure. Much of this came from the defensive line with no need for a blitz, but it was good to see the outside linebackers – Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas and Aaron Maybin producing. They combined for a hit and six pressures, with Maybin getting four pressures after a quiet start to the preseason. Maybin needs to perform better against the run to get himself on the field more. He took a noticeably poor pursuit angle on one play, enabling the runner to cut back and get down to the goal line. However, on another running play, he reacted well to dive in front of a blocker and force the runner back inside, which was a good sign.
Thomas and Pace were typically solid against the run affecting or stopping several runs between them without being blocked out of any plays or making any mistakes in the running game. Pace also made a good tackle in the flat. The only mistakes Pace made were on the first series, when he went completely the wrong way on the first play, thinking the ball had been handed off and then failed to recover an easy fumble.
On the inside, Bart Scott played the majority of the snaps this week – even on passing downs – and seems to be holding his own. He was called for what looked like a totally bogus pass interference penalty and drew some criticism on two completions where he was the nearest man in zone coverage, but on reviewing those plays, it seems likely that he was not at fault. On the first, he passed off his man to David Harris and went with the running back as he ran an in-route. Harris just didn’t get over in time. On the other, he again passed his man off to Josh Bush behind him. You can see Bush go one step too far to the inside and then realize he needs to cover the man on the outside and he loses his balance slightly as he tries to recover. After the play, Scott was remonstrating with the rookie and threw his head back in exasperation. Other than those two plays, Scott continued to be in good position in coverage.
Against the run, he wasn’t as good as last week, getting blocked out of one play and driven to the second level by a guard. However, he still blew up one play, had one tackle for a loss and assisted on another. He added a fumble recovery for good measure.
You may have seen NBC replaying an exotic blitz by the Jets where the inside linebackers criss-crossed and David Harris ended up pressuring the quarterback as the offensive line were on their heels. This was a spectacular blitz, but was also where Harris got injured, because he appeared to step on and trip over a fallen lineman. With Harris out, Josh Mauga filled in alongside Scott (which might be why Scott got so many reps). The difference was immediately apparent as Mauga struggled to negotiate traffic on a few occasions and had a missed tackle, then got beaten for a touchdown. Prior to that, Harris had stuffed two runs and was looking good other than the coverage breakdown with Scott.
Garrett McIntyre got some playing time and had a couple of good moments, forcing a run back inside by keeping contain and blowing up a screen pass. Demario Davis flashed too, with a QB hit and a tackle for a loss on successive plays. Finally, Nick Bellore did a good job of stretching out a running play to the sideline, but then couldn’t get off his block on a screen pass. Can all nine of these guys fit on a 53-man roster?
One week after holding Eli Manning to 62 passing yards on 14 attempts, the Jets were able to hold Cam Newton to 60 yards on 15 attempts. The standout was Laron Landry who intercepted a pass, broke up another with a hit and was in good deep position on another deep ball. He did give up two first downs in coverage, but was picked on both of them. Landry also provided good run support, stuffing one run for a loss and assisting on another tackle in the backfield. He also had a touchdown saving tackle. What a pickup Landry could be if he plays like this all season.
With Yeremiah Bell out, Josh Bush got the start at safety in what’s been an interesting battle between him and Antonio Allen. As noted, he got beaten for a touchdown, but he did have good position on another incompletion and came into the box to stuff a run. Allen, on the other hand, got burned for a big gain and missed two tackles.
Speaking of safeties, it was interesting to note the Jets using Kyle Wilson as a deep safety. With all the talk of the “Big Nickel” option that Bell and Landry provide, the suggestion was that perhaps the Jets would use three safeties in their nickel package and Wilson’s playing time would diminish. However, if they can employ Wilson in centerfield, then that’s a way they can play the big nickel without deviating from their base nickel personnel (and another weapon to counter teams that go no-huddle on them).
At this rate, though, Wilson might lose playing time anyway. He was disappointingly beaten for two first downs. However, he did bounce back with the second unit, covering well on a third down play and coming up to force a runner back inside in run support.
With Ellis Lankster out, the battle rages on for the fifth cornerback spot. Isaiah Trufant’s lack of size continues to haunt him and he was burned and forced to hold a tight end, got beaten on a third down play and had a missed tackle. Julian Posey wasn’t much better, also getting beaten for a first down. D’Anton Lynn and Donnie Fletcher got some reps too, but each had a missed tackle. This spot may yet come down to special teams.
For a change, we finish in the place we usually begin, with the starting corners. There simply isn’t much to say about Darrelle Revis this week, because he wasn’t targeted. He did get stiff-armed on a running play, but that was about as close as he got to having an impact – other than the natural impact he has by being a deterrent to the other team’s quarterback.
Antonio Cromartie had an interesting afternoon, though, with two forced fumbles and two pass breakups. On one of the forced fumbles, he put his hat on the ball rather than wrapping up the runner short of the marker, so I don’t know that he should get too much credit for that one. Also, one of the pass breakups was a dropped interception. Cromartie gave up too much cushion on one play, but was in good coverage on a deep ball. His other pass breakup was a diving effort on third down and was definitely the highlight of a pretty solid performance overall.
Well, one camp battle has been settled, as the Jets let kicker Josh Brown go and will retain Nick Folk for a third season with the team. Brown narrowly missed a field goal that probably would have been good had the ball not been moved back five yards following a penalty on the previous play. Both had been kicking well in terms of field goals and kickoffs, although Folk did have one ugly squib kick. Brown seemed to enjoy his time with the Jets, so if he doesn’t get another job, then maybe he’s a fall back option in the event that Folk falters.
After a rough week last week, TJ Conley only got a chance to punt twice and his numbers were pretty good this week. His first kick was a beauty – high and out of the reach of the return man – ending up with a 50-yard net even after a bad bounce. His other kick was low and underhit and took a friendly bounce to make up for the other one. This ended up being a 63-yarder. One great (but unlucky) kick and one bad (but lucky) one might not be good enough to keep his job if another good punter gets released.
The fact the Jets only punted twice also hurt the chances of any of the primary gunners trying to make the team. Stan Arukwe, who I noticed last week, did a great job of getting downfield on Conley’s second kick, but has already been waived. I think he could be a very good gunner, so watch out for him either on a practice squad or back with a team next year.
In the return game, it looks like Kerley and McKnight are locked into the two main jobs. McKnight had two good runbacks and Kerley made the first guy miss on one of his punt returns. Special mention must also go to Dixon, who had two great special teams blocks including a huge pancake.
In other special teams “news”, Lynn and Ellis had penalties, Baker and Ganaway threw good blocks on kickoff returns, Trufant and Davis had good special teams tackles and Allen had another missed tackle to add to his two on defense.
This was a much more encouraging offensive performance from the Jets. I’m not all that concerned with the lack of touchdowns and was pleased to see them move the ball and show the foresight to scheme around some of their weaknesses.
You have to continue to be impressed with the defense. The defensive line continues to produce, even with two of its better players out. Rex likes to say he wants the best 11 players on the field, but I’m not sure how often that’s going to be possible when five of the best 11 could be defensive linemen. Laron Landry’s play is another reason for optimism and the pass rush got to the quarterback 11 times and pressured him another 10 times without relying totally on blitz packages.
It’s not all positive though. Stephen Hill’s hands need to be more reliable, the red zone offense hasn’t worked yet and Tebow has several flaws in his game, not all of which can be mitigated by how they will be using him. Injuries are also a concern. While there haven’t been any serious injuries to major contributors so far (knock on wood), the minor injuries are starting to pile up and you don’t want to enter the season with no depth when most teams will be at full strength to open the year.
Ultimately, the Jets are viewed by those in the know as a team that could have a great season if everything goes right and a terrible season if everything goes wrong. While we have some idea, I still think it’s too early to be certain about what will or won’t go wrong – which means everything from great to terrible is still on the table.
Next week’s Bollinger Bowl game likely isn’t going to change too many things but one or two jobs could be on the line and there will be some valuable experience for some of the Jets’ young contributors. Last year, the Jets started releasing guys before I even had a chance to complete my BGA, so I’ll be pulling an all-nighter to try and get it to you on Friday morning.
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