BGA Extra: Steelers “at” Jets

Welcome to BGA Extra, where I draw a line under the previous weekend’s game by responding to your questions from BGA during the week. After the jump, I respond to your questions about the game against the Steelers. If you would like your questions answered in future, remember to read BGA each week and leave your question in the comments section.

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BGA Wrap-Up: Steelers “at” Jets

The bye week is finally here. I don’t think many of us expected to be 2-8 at this point of the season and while the Jets have been somewhat snake-bitten in certain areas, there are others where they only have themselves to blame.

With the difficult run of games they had to start the season, going on a losing streak was always a possibility and the season soon spiralled out of control because it’s difficult to get your season going again when that happens.

With that said, in this game, the Jets finally put together a competent performance in all three phases and for four quarters and eventually beat the Steelers pretty comfortably. They weren’t great, but did well enough to control the game. Turnovers were clearly the primary reason for this though, so it will have to be determined whether that aspect is something which the Jets will turn around over the second half or if this game was just an aberration.

While some will lament the damage that winning does and will do to the Jets’ draft positioning it’s rewarding to see the team show some promise for the future, even if the team as currently constituted is somewhat incomplete. In the second half of the year, the organization will have to decide whether it’s their priority to continue battling towards respectability. In a situation like this, with jobs on the line, opinion on this within the organization will be divided.

There are links to each BGA article or the option to read the offensive and/or defensive BGA in full after the jump.

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BGA: The Zach Exchange

Having already contributed a long touchdown reception earlier in the game, TJ Graham came up with the biggest special teams play of his game when he hit Antonio Brown following his muffed punt and then came up with the loose ball to set up the Jets with good field position as they were leading 17-0.

In the end, the Jets were unable to cash in, as Nick Folk missed the field goal. However, like every other field goal Folk has missed, this didn’t factor into the final result. The Steelers then had another special teams breakdown, as they missed a chip shot field goal of their own, helping the Jets keep them at arm’s length. It was certainly good to see the Jets capitalizing on their opponents’ errors on special teams for a change.

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BGA: J.J. What?

Thrust into the starting line-up for struggling rookie Calvin Pryor, Jaiquawn Jarrett – who led the team with three missed tackles last week – had a magical performance to spark the Jets. Where on earth did that come from?

Jarrett had 10 tackles, a sack, a quarterback hit, a fumble recovery, a pass break-up and two interceptions. Sure, some of that was from being in the right place at the right time, but isn’t that what being a good safety is all about? After all, Pryor’s issues stem from being in the wrong place or arriving at the wrong time. (I’m talking about on the field, but this is doubly true in light of the reports that he’s missed meetings and weights sessions over the course of the season).

What was stunning about Jarrett’s performance was that, despite all the plays he was making, it was also a disciplined performance with no negatives whatsoever. If he doesn’t win the AFC defensive player of the week, it’s an outrage.

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BGA: Davis love deferred

Demario Davis had an active performance, leading the team with 12 tackles and helping to hold the Steelers to just 36 rushing yards on 17 carries. However, despite that production there was still a couple of occasions where he was taken out of the play, especially in coverage where he gave up 69 yards on eight catches, both season highs.

That was perhaps a feature of the Jets’ coverage scheme this week though, because he was also targeted a season high 11 times and this could be because the Jets were trying to keep the Steelers from targeting some other players. He was lined up opposite a receiver in the slot or out wide seven times, a season high and a sure indication that the Jets were playing – or at times, showing – more man coverages.

Davis did come up big in coverage a few times, with a pass breakup and a good open field tackle. He was also in a good position on another incompletion. He did get beaten for a first down on a couple of passes and also was blocked out of the play on a screen pass that also went for a first down. In addition, he gave up a 16-yard completion on 2nd and 17. His sure tackling at least limited the damage and helped the Jets keep the Steelers from getting themselves back into the game, but I’m not fully convinced he doesn’t still have more work to do if he’s ever going to be able to take over from David Harris.

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BGA: Good Wilk Hunting

For once, a terrific Muhammad Wilkerson performance can be enjoyed within the context of a winning effort from the Jets. Wilkerson continues to blow up runs (and short passes) and get into the backfield seemingly at will as he once again is establishing himself as an elite defensive lineman with consistently excellent play.

Wilkerson did have a roughing the passer penalty, which seemed a little harsh, but other than that only had one negative play all day, while he had a handful of pressures, blew up several plays for short gains and forced a key fumble. He also had a sack negated by a penalty. A particular highlight was the way he tore through the line on second and goal from the one which was just outstanding, but less obvious was the fact that he also penetrated low to take out the running back’s legs on the play before that.

Two questions remain: Firstly, the question of what will happen in terms of the Wilkerson contract negotiations – which, if there’s any doubt over whether John Idzik will remain as the general manager should perhaps be shelved until that decision is made. Secondly, will Wilkerson’s performances be good enough for pro bowl voters to overlook the Jets’ disappointing record?

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BGA: Golden Graham

He only got to run a route five times all day, but TJ Graham made by far the biggest contribution of the game with his 67-yard touchdown catch. Graham is a guy who I had already identified as a deep threat who would have made a lot more big plays in Buffalo if his quarterbacks had been a bit more accurate.

It made a refreshing change for a Jets quarterback to see him and deliver the ball on target, although you have to wonder if Troy Polamalu would have prevented that play. As it was, Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell was only nine yards deep at the snap, bit hard on the play action and then slipped over as he tried to recover. This not only meant that it fell on the cornerback on the other side (Brice McCain) to try and chase back into the play) but also that Jace Amaro snuck in behind Mitchell and was also wide open. In fact, this was probably an easier completion than the one to Graham and it looks theoretically possible that Amaro could have caught the ball and ran it for a touchdown himself, as you can see in the image below.

The image also shows how Graham is not open when Vick releases the pass, but he anticipates perfectly the fact that he’s going to accelerate past his man. Like they say, if he’s even, he’s leavin’.

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