BGA Wrap-up: Jets at Titans

In yesterday’s game, the Jets scraped a 16-11 win over a poor Titans team in a competitive match-up. While we saw some positive signs from players like IK Enemkpali, Quinton Coples and Calvin Pryor, in the grand scheme of things it was more of the same. Now just two games remain.

If there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s that this offseason is going to be eventful, so I can understand why many people can’t wait for it to begin.

However, there’s still two more games to go and they just happen to provide the Jets with the opportunity to mess up their biggest rivals. With New England trying to clinch home field advantage throughout the postseason and Miami trying to sneak into the playoffs for just the second time in the Tom Brady era (with the first being while he was on injured reserve), the Jets can seriously wreck either team’s season with a win.

I root for the Patriots and Dolphins to lose every week (although, ironically, not this week because they played each other) and that’s a habit I won’t be changing over the next couple of weeks.

And if they should lose either or both of these games? Well, at least the improvement to their draft position will make up for that to some extent.

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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Jets Week 15 offensive report card, presented by Long Island University

Overall Grade: C+

The Jets managed to eek out a win, despite a last-ditch chance at Music City Miracle: The Sequel, to earn their first road win and improve to 3-11 on the year.

Long Island University SmallRex Ryan, though, was stuck on two.

“Jets fans want to win,” Ryan said after the game. “Are you kidding me? We have only got two of them.”

Make that three.

Quarterback: Geno Smith went 16-28, throwing for 179 yards and a touchdown. A long touchdown pass to Eric Decker was called back after Decker stepped out of bounds, and the wide receiver lost another in the lights, he said.

Geno was going to get sacked in the endzone for a safety, but not before he tried to throw it away. Unfortunately for the Jets, it was to no one and Smith was charged with intentional grounding in the endzone, resulting in a safety anyway.

Smith did not turn the ball over, which was important in the five-point game. He also kept his cool after getting punched in the face by Jurrell Casey, while the rest of his team went after the Titans players.

“Obviously, it escalated into something we don’t need it to, but the referees did a good job in getting guys back on the sidelines and the game continued on,” Smith said. To read more of this story, click here

BGA: Bellore is the law

One player who definitely came to play yesterday was Nick Bellore. The fourth year linebacker, who was arguably the Jets best special teamer (apart from Nick Folk) last season is having a strong finish to this year too.

Bellore was in on four special teams tackles and moved up to 7th in the NFL with 13 on the season. Only league leader Justin Bethel has more than 15.

Tackling is far from the only thing Bellore does for this team, though. It was his powerful, driving block that paved the way for Percy Harvin’s nice kickoff return. He also showed selflessness on Ryan Quigley’s punt late in the game, flying downfield to blow up the lead blocker, which set up Zach Sudfeld for an easy clean-up tackle. PFF currently ranks Bellore in 7th place for overall special teams play and 2nd on kickoffs.

It’s certainly not unusual for top special teams linebackers like Brendon Ayanbadejo and Jason Trusnik to move into a starting role later on in their career. With all the success that former Jets backups Josh Mauga, Danny Lansanah and, to a lesser extent, Jeremiah George have had since leaving the Jets, it’s only a matter of time before some team gives Bellore an opportunity to play on defense. It would be unfortunate for the Jets if they were to lose him, as his contributions on special teams are invaluable, so maybe they themselves should be that team.

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BGA: Calvin Climbs

I’ve picked apart every mistake that Calvin Pryor has made this year and even some where I’m not even certain that he was the guy at fault, so let’s give him some credit when he has a decent game. Pryor started and played about two-thirds of the snaps, as the Jets rotated three players; Pryor, Dawan Landry and Jaiquawn Jarrett.

What was crucial about Pryor’s performance was that he didn’t make any obvious mistakes. While the Jets did give up four 20-yard plays, none of them were his fault. Pryor came up fast to cut down a receiver for a short gain, generated pressure a couple of times on blitzes and recorded five tackles. He did have one missed tackle, but even that one was arguably a positive play as he slowed up the runner in the backfield and the cavalry finished the play off behind him.

It will be interesting to see if Pryor can build on this solid performance against a much more formidable opponent next week. The Jets will need him to be a lot more consistent in year two.

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Rookie pass rusher IK Enemkpali had only played 12 snaps in his NFL career until yesterday, but he matched that number and showed some nice flashes against the Titans. What stood out most was that he batted two passes down at the line, but actually he also looked sharp and powerful coming off the edge too.

While Enemkpali wasn’t credited with a pressure, he twice drove his man back into the quarterback’s face on a bullrush and then did it a third time, getting to him for a sack this time, only for that sack to be negated by a defensive penalty. His first pass deflection rescued the Jets from a potential big play as confusion in the secondary left a player uncovered in the flat. On the second one, although it was third and long and the Jets would easily have made the stop short of a first down anyway, this was arguably an even better play because he almost intercepted it.

We’ve been hoping to see some flashes from the younger players on the team and that’s exactly what Enemkpali gave the Jets yesterday. On the basis of what he showed, maybe he has the potential to become a good situational pass rusher at this level.

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BGA: The Quinton Administration

Quinton Coples might not have lived up to expectations this season, but he’s still capable of dishing out some punishment and he did that yesterday with three hits and one sack. As a pass rusher, he’s still a disruptive force, drawing a lot of doubles and getting to the quarterback, despite the fact the Jets continue to take him out of the game in pass rush situations.

The issue with him manning the strong-side was all too apparent yesterday, as he was blocked out of more running plays than he has been all season. On one play he was swatted aside by the right tackle. His role really hasn’t changed that much since Wilkerson’s injury because he still only lined up inside the tackle box four times yesterday. However, the strongside end position is obviously more demanding from a run stopping perspective and it probably doesn’t help that he shed weight during the offseason to better suit the weakside role he’s been forced to share with Jason Babin for most of the season.

Therein lies the Quinton Quandry. Should he bulk back up so that he can play inside more or should the fact he still does all of his best work coming off the edge be a sign that this is where his career is headed? Until we know who will be coaching him next year, that’s a question we probably can’t answer, but I like what I’ve seen of him when they actually use him in pass rush situations off the edge, so I’d like to see him continue to get as many of those reps as possible.

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BGA: Decker cheers on the Titanic

Eric Decker finally delivered his first 100-yard game as a Jet, but does it matter? Decker did most of his damage against a career nickel back (Coty Sensabaugh) or by finding gaps in zone coverage.

However, he actually put together a good performance made up of several nice plays. He displayed good hands, fought for yardage and drew two penalty flags. It could have been a much bigger day for him though as his 81-yard touchdown catch was overturned because he stepped out of bounds on the 33 and he also dropped a back shoulder throw downfield.

Decker’s season as a whole has been somewhat disappointing, although part of that can be attributed to injuries. Over the last four games, he has 19 catches for 270 yards, which isn’t bad production if he could emulate that over a full season. As someone who expected Decker to fall well short of his 2012/13 production with the Broncos but was still hopeful he could produce enough to warrant the contract he was given, I would take it as a positive sign that his actual production is in line with my expectations despite the team’s struggles and his injuries. Moreover, it’s obvious he could have had a few bigger games if not for missed opportunities so there is some room for growth. On the whole, I’ve been impressed with him and remain hopeful he can build on this next year.

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