BGA: Scouting Josh Thomas

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

Earlier this week, the Jets announced that they had signed cornerback Josh Thomas to the active roster, following the season-ending injury to starting cornerback Dee Milliner on Sunday. Jets fans might not know too much about Thomas, so I’ve been reviewing footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.

The 25-year old Thomas is listed as 5 foot 11, 185 pounds, and was drafted by the Cowboys in the 5th round of the 2011 draft. He didn’t make their final roster, but the Panthers signed him and he spent three years there during which time he started 10 games for them. After being cut in preseason, Thomas was signed by the Seahawks and played a couple of games for them before again being released.

After the jump, I look in detail at footage from last year and from this year’s preseason to evaluate some of his strengths and weaknesses.

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BGA: Scouting Wesley Johnson

BGA1Yesterday, the Jets announced that they had acquired two players to replace Dee Milliner and Brian Winters, each of whom suffered season ending injuries in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. Cornerback Josh Thomas was brought in to replace Milliner’s spot on the roster with offensive lineman Wesley Johnson being added to replace Winters. Jets fans might not know too much about these two players so I’ve been watching game footage to evaluate what they could bring to the table. Tomorrow, we’ll look at Thomas, but here we take a look at Johnson.

The 23-year-old Johnson was a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft out of Vanderbilt. He was on the Steelers’ active roster until this weekend, but remained inactive. They waived him because they needed a roster spot and had every intention of adding him to their practice squad if he cleared waivers. He has played guard, center and tackle.

After the jump, I look in detail at his career so far with a review of footage from preseason to evaluate some of his strengths and weaknesses. To read more of this story, click here

BGA Wrap-up: Broncos at Jets

This isn’t a game we can afford to dwell on for too long with another match-up in a few days against the rival Patriots.

Instead, let’s close with a rather strange anomaly. Each of the first four teams to beat the Jets in this five game losing streak (the first of the Rex Ryan era) has played much worse the following week. The Packers lost 19-7 to Detroit. Chicago lost by 21 to those same Packers. The Lions lost at home to the Bills. Finally, the Chargers did win, but only by three over Oakland thanks to a late interception, which is arguably as bad as a loss. It seems like teams diligently prepare for the Jets and then burn themselves out for the following game, which feels like it’s been a pattern throughout the Rex Ryan era. Is this because of all the talk, a drawback related to the “smoke and mirrors” aspect of their defense or something else? Either way, look for Denver to struggle in their next game.

Let’s go and get this win. We’d rather be 2-5 with a win over the Pats than 3-4 with a loss to them anyway! If not, at least we can enjoy the Patriots losing the game after that.

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: A muff is enough

The Jets took a 7-3 lead and forced the Broncos to punt from deep inside their own territory. Geno Smith, in a nice rhythm following the previous touchdown drive, was about to get possession near midfield with a chance to extend the lead. And then…

Walt Powell dropped the ball.

That was so frustrating, because it not only took away a scoring opportunity for the Jets, it also flipped the field position battle in the Broncos favor and set them up to retake the lead. In addition, it took Smith out of his rhythm and in doing so, allowed Peyton Manning to find a rhythm of his own for the first time all game, a rhythm he used to drive for a touchdown on the next two possessions as well. That was all the scoring the Broncos would need and all Walt Powell had to do was catch the ball.

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BGA: Milliner injury exposes the Jets Achilles heel

Just four plays into the game, second year cornerback Dee Milliner went down with what immediately looked like a season ending Achilles injury (and that does appear to be the case, based on reports). As Milliner felt his ankle pop, the bubble also burst in terms of the remaining hope there may have been that the Jets secondary could be anything more than a makeshift unit for the remainder of the season.

I’ve been really high on Milliner’s talent, but losing him for the rest of the year – to an injury which is likely to curtail his 2015 offseason – is a disaster for his ongoing development. That it comes after a frustrating start to the season which has seen him miss time due to a high ankle sprain and then an associated thigh strain makes it all the more frustrating.

With Milliner down, the Jets were left with Phillip Adams (who was cut by Seattle and wasn’t even on the team until early September) and Darrin Walls (who was himself less than 100%) as the two starters. All the while, former first round pick Kyle Wilson, who started 14 games on the outside in 2012 remains firmly “slotted” in his current role.

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BGA: Backing off

Moreso than in any other game so far, the Jets employed their linebackers in coverage an effort to slow down the Broncos passing attack. With Peyton Manning’s well-documented ability to read a blitz and get rid of the ball before pressure arrives, that was perhaps logical, but it had the dual downside of removing those players from the pass rush and from the middle of the field on running plays.

Quinton Coples rushed the passer just 12 times, Jason Babin 11 times and Calvin Pace five times. For Pace, that was particularly surprising. He was used in coverage 19 times including 10 plays where he lined up on outside receivers. Coples and Babin were also used in that role.

Maybe they weren’t expecting much pass rushing production off the edge anyway, especially with the Broncos leaving at least one extra blocker in over half of the time on average. That won’t stop the criticism of this approach though, even though the Jets ran the Broncos a lot closer than anticipated, perhaps as a result of doing this.

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BGA: Jets run defense springs a leak

This was a weird game in many respects, as the staples upon which the Jets’ identity has been formulated all seemed to let them down and yet still they somehow managed to come closer to an elite team than anyone expected.

This was no different for the run defense, which gave up 145 yards at almost 4.5 yards per carry. For the second straight week, the Jets gameplan seemed to be to remove run stopping personnel from the game to discourage the Broncos from passing the ball too much and, for the second straight week, this plan half-worked. The Broncos did run the ball a lot and as a result their passing numbers were down. However, Rex Ryan may have overestimated the Jets ability to stop a running game even with some unheralded players toting the rock.

Last week, the numbers for San Diego were artificially increased by some long runs with the Jets actually stuffing the run on a regular basis. This week, the Broncos were able to pick up chunks of yardage a lot more consistently. One thing I noticed this week moreso than in any other week was that the Jets were constantly complaining to the officials about being held. The Broncos were even called for holding four times, so I think to some extent they were constantly pushing the envelope and seeing how often they could get away with it. Perhaps it’s an approach the Jets themselves might have had more success with.

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