BGA Wrap-up: Jets at Vikings

After what was actually a pretty interesting and exciting game, I’m not sure we learnt too many things about this Jets team that we didn’t already know or strongly suspect. Still, with three games left in the season, at least there’s plenty to keep our interest.

I would figure that the most interesting story will be how the rotations are affected by Muhammad Wilkerson’s return, although I’m sure the one that will get the most media coverage will be whether Geno Smith can string together some solid performances at the end of the season again and what we should read into them if he does.

As for the Vikings, they look like a team on the rise and it’s interesting to ponder how they might have fared this season if they hadn’t have lost Adrian Peterson.

The Jets, though, will turn their attentions to the Titans for next week’s game before they close with games against their divisional rivals New England and Miami.

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: Special contextual awareness

The Jets actually made a couple of big special teams plays yesterday, with Bilal Powell’s forced fumble recovered by TJ Graham on a kickoff and Percy Harvin making a long kickoff return after having bobbled a catch.

They also got a career tying five successful field goals from the boot of Nick Folk, who showed his mettle by nailing a game-tying 44-yarder. This was despite the fact that Folk was dealing with a hip injury all week, laid up nearly all of his kickoffs short and reportedly was under-hitting 53-yard field goals in pre-game warmups.

It could have been very different though, as three of Folk’s five field goals were almost blocked.

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BGA: Airing their dirty Landry

Having said they were going to do it last week, the Jets this week made good on their promise to bench Dawan Landry for Calvin Pryor. On the whole the defensive backfield didn’t suffer too badly, but there were some glaring breakdowns.

Jaiquawn Jarrett’s missed tackle that released Jairus Wright for the game-winning touchdown was the most costly. Jarrett came up fast to try and ensure he made the stop before the marker. Had he done so, the Vikings would have been punting from their shadow of their own goalposts and there would have been a good chance for the Jets to win. However, Wright slipped the tackle and Darrin Walls and Kyle Wilson each got caught up on blocks, setting him into the clear.

That wasn’t the only coverage breakdown of the game though.

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BGA: Babin Fever

Very quietly, Jason Babin has put together a string of good performances. He seems to be benefiting from being able to play as an every-down rush linebacker instead of just entering the game as part of a rotation or on passing downs only.

Babin is now grading out as PFF’s 9th best outside linebacker this season. Even more surprisingly, he’s 5th against the run. That’s despite the fact that he’s been caught on the inside on several big plays and lost contain as an edge setter. In fact, that happened on one play yesterday as Teddy Bridgewater was able to block his path, allowing Cordarrelle Patterson to pick up a big gain on an end around. The key with Babin is that opposing teams have tried to run at him and when they have – or when they’ve left him unblocked on the backside – he’s taken the opportunity to make the play every time. Babin is one of only two qualifying 3-4 OLBs in the league with zero missed tackles. To read more of this story, click here

BGA: One man wrecking crew

With Muhammad Wilkerson out once again, it falls upon Sheldon Richardson to lead the Jets’ best unit and he responded superbly with a terrific three-sack performance. While two of those sacks came as the quarterback tried to elude pressure from elsewhere, his pursuit and open-field tackling allowed him to make those plays.

Despite missing two tackles, Richardson was also in on a handful of run stuffs and made another solid open field tackle to save a touchdown on a quarterback draw. His other sack came on an E-T stunt and generated the Jets’ first points with a safety, but he was effective in the pass rush all day with some good bullrushing and one more pressure and one hit.

Unfortunately, the game had a cruel end for Richardson in particular, as I’ll discuss further down.

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BGA: Rip Kerl?

It’s been a disappointing season from Jeremy Kerley and while it looked like he might be back on track two games ago when he caught five passes for 66 yards, he’s caught just three for 19 since then. Yesterday, he had a nice catch on a crossing route for 18 on first and 20 but his other catch went for a loss.

Furthermore, on the Jets’ only overtime possession, Kerley was the hot read as the Vikings brought a blitz off both edges. Smith threw the ball out there but Kerley didn’t look back for the ball, even though he was well aware of the rush coming from that side because he had just thrown a chip block. Smith (and Sanchez before him) never seems to be able to connect with a hot read and you have to wonder if that’s on the receivers as much as it is on him. As it turns out, that pass was deflected anyway and probably wouldn’t have generated a first down even if Kerley was ready to catch it. At least it would have had a chance though.

In Kerley’s defense, he did contribute by drawing two penalties, but his drop-off in production continues to be a concern, especially in light of the contract extension he signed while in the midst of the slump. One theory was that the negotiation of that contract was providing a distraction, but it’s since emerged that Kerley has been dealing with the recent death of a close friend, so that might explain why he hasn’t emulated his performance in recent seasons.

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BGA: Conner starting to have an impact

The Jets running game continues to rack up the yards, amassing 168 of them in yesterday’s game. However, Chris Ivory’s costly fumble on a play where he looked like he was going to score took some costly points off the board for the Jets.

One factor which helped the Jets running game this week was fullback John Conner, who has been inconsistent since returning to the team to replace the injured Tommy Bohanon. Conner had his most consistent game and led the way with some impact blocks. He’s played 35 snaps over the last two games having averaged just nine per game in his seven appearances prior to that.

Conner actually got off to a bad start with a missed block early on, but then settled down with some good lead blocks. On one of these, he punished an outside linebacker at the second level, rocking him and driving him back, but unfortunately Chris Johnson opted to cut back up the middle. While he picked up the short yardage conversion, Johnson might have had a bigger gain if he followed Conner into the hole over the right side. Conner did well to hold his ground on a play where a linebacker tried to blow up his block in the backfield, enabling Ivory to bounce a run outside and he also did a good job in pass protection on Everson Griffen, managing to keep him away from Geno Smith even though Jeff Cumberland (who was initially double teaming with him) injured his arm and wheeled away in pain.

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