A few notes, links and ramblings about the 3-2 Jets to pass along:
With such a young roster, more often than not this season, win or lose, the majority of the Jets’ top performers will likely be players with only a couple of pro seasons under their belts. This week however, two of the top performers were a couple of veteran defenders in Morris Claiborne and Demario Davis. Claiborne picked up 9 tackles and a key interception while providing tight coverage all day and Davis had six tackles of his own to go along with a sack and several QB hits. One of Davis’ hits played a key role in forcing the interception that Claiborne pulled down as the ball came out wobbly on impact.
Jamal Adams had a pair of glaring mistakes as he appeared to be the culprit on a touchdown pass to fellow rookie David Njoku, as well as allowing Isaiah Crowell to break free and pick up a first down on a play that could have been several yards short of the marker. Even still, Adams came away tied for the team lead with nine tackles.
Fellow rookie Marcus Maye came away with his first interception as a pro when he broke on a pass toward the sideline from rookie Deshone Kizer inside the 5-yard line. A huge momentum changer and hopefully one of many more to come.
After cutting ties with cornerback Marcus Williams to make room for wide receiver Jalin Marshall, the hope among Jets fans is that cornerback Derrick Jones is continuing to trend upwards in his development. We pointed out Jones notable improvement as training camp progressed in our camp reports here. If he has continued to build on that, perhaps he gets some reps in the near future with Williams gone while Darryl Roberts and Juston Burris are nursing injuries.
With Marshall back on the roster, we may get to see just how much, if at all, his ball security has improved. Throughout camp and the pre-season, we’d see an impressive catch or two followed up by an easy drop. Marshall has shown he has the traits to get open, but that won’t matter if he can’t hold on to the ball more consistently.
Running back Bilal Powell suffered a strained calf against the Browns and is said to be day-to-day, so the Jets will likely look to add a back for game day against the Patriots. This cold mean Marcus Murphy gets the call from the practice squad with rookie Elijah McGuire, an injured Matt Forte and little-used Travaris Cadet being the only backs on the active roster.
The Jets offensive line got little push in the run game all day long, and there were some breakdowns early against the Browns. Credit the unit for cleaning things up and keeping Josh McCown upright when the Jets went to an almost exclusive passing offense later in the game. Brian Winters and Brandon Shell in particular were singled out by pro football focus as two of the Jets’ top performers, no doubt as a result of the strong second half, although Shell was flawless in pass pro from start to finish according to PFF.
Brandon Shell was perfect in pass protection against Cleveland, allowing 0 pressures over 34 pass block snaps #Jets
Through five games, Leonard Williams and Mo Wilkerson have combined for zero sacks, the exact same number the Seahawks have gotten out of former Jet Sheldon Richardson. Raise your hand if you predicted any of that.
He was far from perfect, but it was encouraging to see linebacker Darron Lee play with some decisiveness at times against the Browns. Lee flashed on a couple of plays in which he reacted without hesitation as he has in the past, as a result, we saw a couple of tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage for the embattled defender. Arguably Lee’s best game as a pro.
It’s Patriots week, folks. Even with a three-game win streak in tact and the performances mentioned above, the Jets will have to be better this week than they were against the Browns, or things will get ugly in a hurry.
Anyone who has paid attention to the Jets over the first two weeks with even an ounce of objectivity has to have been impressed with the performance of rookie safety Jamal Adams, and according to the folks at Pro Football Focus, it’s not without reason.
This is the first in a multi-part breakdown of each positional unit for the Jets entering training camp. To start off, we will look at cornerbacks, where I believe we may see some serious improvement if all breaks right.
Cornerbacks on the Roster
Morris Claiborne, Juston Burris, Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams, Darryl Roberts, Dexter McDougle, Corey White, Jeremy Clark, Derrick Jones, Bryson Keeton, and Xavier Coleman.
Thankfully, the team is only losing one major player and that player happens to be the best CB to ever play for gang green: Darrelle Revis. In his first season back with the Jets in 2015, Revis continued to play like an all-pro, but things seemed to take a turn for the worst in 2016. He was repeatedly beat deep and only recorded 1 INT and 5 PDs in 15 games. So, we are going to call this a major loss, but in reality it may be addition by subtraction. There is a reason Revis remains a free agent after all.
Other than the rookies, who likely won’t have much of an impact in 2017, the only veteran CBs the Jets added are Morris Claiborne and Corey White. While White is not a lock to make the team, let alone make an impact, Claiborne has the chance to be a key contributor for this defense. Claiborne signed a 1-year deal for $5 million and is expected to be our #1 CB, so long as he remains healthy. When he is on the field, he is one of the best CBs in the game and he showed that over the course of 7 games last season where he didn’t allow a single TD. According to ProFootballFocus, Claiborne graded out as the 9th best CB in the NFL entering week 12. If he stays healthy, which is a big “if”, he should continue to play like a shut down corner. If he gets hurt again, it is still a justifiable signing being that it was only 1-year/$5 million.
Player to Watch
One player everyone should keep their eyes on in training camp and pre-season is 2nd year CB, Juston Burris. The Jets drafted Burris in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL draft with hopes that he would one day become a shut down corner. As a rookie, he recorded 1 INT and 5 PDs in limited action, which is identical to what Revis did in those categories. The only difference is Revis played the majority of snaps every game, while Burris only saw significant playing time in a handful of games. According to defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers in an article by Connor Hughes of NJ.com, “he probably should have played more last year.” Rodgers also added, “we think he has tremendous upside and he’s competitive.” If Burris lives up to his expectations this season, we may have found a true 4th round gem and a stud CB for years to come.
On paper, the Jets cornerback unit doesn’t look spectacular, but if Claiborne stays healthy and Burris improves, our #1 and #2 could be studs with Buster Skrine handling the slot corner role and Marcus Williams continuing to be somewhat of a ball hawk in limited time. Those four are likely locks to make the roster and I expect 6-7 CBs to be on the team come week 1. Darryl Roberts and the two rookies, Jeremy Clark and Derrick Jones, have the best chance, but they will all need to show that they can play at a high level throughout training camp and the pre-season.
What’s exciting is the oldest CB on the roster is Skrine and he is only 28, while Claiborne is 27 and Burris is 23. If all breaks in the Jets favor, they could go from one of the worst cornerback units in 2016 to having two shut down CBs in 2017 and beyond.
So after viewing the good defensive plays from Week 1, let’s look at the bad plays. The Jets secondary was in shambles all year, and opposing teams repeatedly put up strong numbers against them. They had quite possibly one of the worst secondaries in the league, and major communication issues.
This is essentially pitch and catch for the Bengals. This defensive alignment shows a major lack of communication and understanding among the players. When the receiver to the left of the formation goes in motion, both Revis and Marcus Gilchrist take steps backwards. It should only be one of them, because the only reason Revis should be moving back is to protect the deep route. Instead, Gilchrist takes himself right out of the play, and Revis allows an easy completion to an elite receiver. If Gilchrist is moving deeper on the field, Revis has to stay on press man coverage since Gilchrist is his safety net over the top.
A unique formation, which game pass later identifies as a “Barnyard Formation”, and the Jets are completely caught off-guard. The read for Dalton on this play is very easy, as he looks to his right and sees three players on offense with two defenders. There is no one else nearby to stop this play, so if they can just get decent blocking, this is going for big yards. The Jets show a clear lack of defensive acumen here by leaving someone as dangerous as AJ Green without a defender, and it comes back to bite them for a first down. This formation and play will come up later in this article, with very similar results.
Here is a prime example of why the Jets need better secondary players, especially at safety. First, notice Marcus Williams going backwards, as Calvin Pryor moves forward. This was the counter movement we didn’t see in example 1 with the Jets. However, Pryor moves far too much up the field, leaving him trailing on this play. The play is busted partially because of this, since Williams now can’t switch to the TE running down the middle fast enough. Darron Lee does an OK job trying to stay with the TE, but it’s a very good throw by Dalton, which is then followed by a horrible job by Lee to tackle the runner. If Pryor isn’t as far up the field at the start of this play, there is a chance that Williams makes the move towards the center of the field faster. Notice Revis on the other side of the field in press man coverage, holding his own against AJ Green.
For all the interceptions by Marcus Williams, there are too many plays such as these. In a crucial third down situation, the secondary has major miscommunication issues. Brandon LaFell moves prior to the snap, which completely throws off the defense. Calvin Pryor vacates the middle of the field for a blitz and Marcus Williams is left all alone. If the call is for a safety blitz, then Williams has to follow LaFell through the movement, because as it plays out, it seems like the Jets have man coverage called. There is no reason for Williams to stay back in this case and leave LaFell open to run through the middle of the field. Notice Revis on man coverage, and how AJ Green doesn’t have an easy reception available to him.
Late movement, bad adjustment once more for the defense. This is a horrible play all around for the Jets. First, in a single high safety look with no immediate help, where is Marcus Williams moving to with the movement? He gives inside leverage, as if he’s expecting safety help in the intermediate area. Second, Revis is slow to react to the movement and watches AJ Green fly right by him. This is a prime example of Revis being a bad zone CB because he’s not quick in his reactions. He wins his match ups by being knowledgeable about routes in man coverage and mimicking them, but doesn’t do a good job to reacting for plays in zone coverage or off coverage. The only reason Revis is even close to the ball on this play is because Dalton hangs the ball in the air for too long. The safety on this play, Gilchrist is caught in no man’s land and makes himself promptly useless by covering absolutely no one. He sees an open receiver streaking in front of him, while an open receiver streaks right by him and decides to play it safe and stand in the middle. This is a disaster of a play with Dalton having multiple options of wide open receivers down the field.
Marcus Williams gets burned again on this play. Another easy pitch and catch situation where the Jets decide to give up easy yards. On this play, Calvin Pryor moves up the field, as Williams moves backwards, but Pryor is too far inside to have an impact on the play. Williams is backing up because he no longer has intermediate help from Pryor so he has to concede the short pass to protect against the deep pass, but a veteran QB can dissect this game plan all day long. Pryor has to stay neutral on this play, because by moving up, he let Dalton know that he has an easy pass open on the outside. With Gilchrist on the other end, there is very little chance of Williams being aggressive on this short route. Once again, notice Revis not getting beat by AJ Green with press coverage.
Remember this formation? Remember the match up issue last time with only two players to cover three offensive players? Well here we go again. The only reason this doesn’t go for more yards is because LaFell has horrible vision on this play and doesn’t go up the field when he had a chance to. Either way, the Jets got fooled by the same exact play twice in one half.
Coming out of the two minute warning, the Bengals come out with triple receivers wide left. The Jets counter with two CBs and a deep safety. There is one in-line TE to the right side of the formation, but the defense assigns three players to defend him (who doesn’t even run a route). This is just a complete failure from an acumen stand point because there is absolutely nothing special about this play. By the time the safety gets close to the receiver, he would have gained about ten yards as the worst case scenario for the Bengals. Once again, Calvin Pryor is useless on this play as he’s too close to the line in a situation where he should be on the other side of the field or playing deep safety so Gilchrist can get closer to the third receiver.
Did you notice the times where Revis was playing AJ Green on man coverage and doing a good job? Apparently the coaches didn’t, because they move him about eight yards off the line, and the Bengals are back to easy throws and catches. Again, Dalton is a bit late with this throw and it still doesn’t matter. This is just a terrible play call overall because the Jets give safety help over the top, but refuse to press the receiver, thus taking the safeties out of play.
Same play, same result, only this time Green runs a bit further down the field to make sure he gets the first down. With safety help, why is Revis playing so far back? Green is a great receiver and he schools Revis on this play with this out route. Revis gets beat like a drum on plays where he isn’t in press coverage, but why do they still have him playing back?
A lucky break for the Jets because AJ Green is gone on this play for a 93 yard TD if inexplicably doesn’t step out of bounds by taking a wide turn. Once again, Revis decides to back up off the line, which makes this play for the Bengals. It allows the slot receiver to engage the CB first, buying him enough time for other blockers to form behind him, thus enabling him to disengage and go after Revis next. This entire play is made by Revis backing up from the line. Once again, we have Calvin Pryor being useless on the other side of the field. AJ Green knows he should have taken this to the house and there is really no reason for him to run out of bounds here when he was in the clear.
One of the biggest goals of a defense is to get the opposing offense in third and long situations. The Jets did just that in this case, and then completely fell apart because the Bengals quick snapped this ball and the entire defense was caught off-guard. It might be a side product of practicing with Fitzpatrick reciting social security numbers of his receivers, but they acted as if they didn’t know the ball could be snapped prior to some finger pointing. The Bengals took advantage of this situation, because it’s 3rd and long, so they are just looking for a one on one match up down the field, and throwing up a prayer. If it’s caught great, if it’s not then punt, and if it’s intercepted then it acts as a punt. Since these are the Jets, the receiver caught the ball for a first down. The two safeties looked like they were skipping backwards holding hands as the ball was snapped.
Have you seen this before? Revis backing away, quick throw and catch from Dalton to Green? Once again, why?
This isn’t a bad play, in fact it’s one of the better coverage schemes in the game. The Jets are playing with a single high safety with man coverage, and AJ Green simply beats Darrelle Revis. Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap to the opposition because they made a great play. This is a great throw and catch by the Bengals, and Revis has excellent coverage on this pass. Unfortunately, Green just makes a great catch to negate the coverage.
Revis off the line, pitch and catch to Green? Yes.
This play actually happens earlier in the game, but it’s another opportunity to show how the Jets were lucky to not give up another TD in this game. There is late movement by the TE from one side to the other, but the Jets do absolutely nothing to actually adjust for this play. They are once again caught in a disadvantage with a deep safety and two corners covering three receivers. David Harris comes from the middle to cover the TE, but he can’t stay with the TE with his lack of speed. Furthermore, Harris engages the TE and then looks towards the backfield, which allows the TE to run freely to the outside. A decent throw and this is an easy TD. The Jets once again, show a major lack of adjustment to late movement. Pryor was injured on the previous play, so Rontez Miles took his spot to be out of position on this play.
The Jets were lucky to lose as closely as they did. The Bengals blew two touchdowns in this game, and consistently took advantage of the Jets miscommunication and lack of adjustments. The Jets defense almost looked as if they just weren’t prepared for the late movements from the Bengals, and the coverage choices were certainly befuddling. Darrelle Revis did a much better job in press coverage, but far too often they allowed him to move away from the line of scrimmage, making life easier for AJ Green and the Bengals. The safety play was atrocious in this game, and you can clearly see why the Jets invested two picks in the draft to make changes at safety.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with the lowest being 1), how confident are you with Calvin Pryor?
The 2017 NFL Draft for the Jets were marked with even more commitment to the defense, as they doubled down on safeties in the first two rounds. So why did a team filled with so many holes throughout the roster focus on one position? It’s because they had one of the worst secondaries in the league last year. Throughout the off-season, we will break down the Jets’ secondary and their ineptitude in defending the pass. It goes without saying that not all the plays were bad, so we will show some of the few good plays first.
On this play, the Jets come out in press man coverage, with a single high safety in Pryor, with Gilchrist moving back as the ball is about to be snapped. This is the defense that most of the personnel on the team has been drafted for. Rex Ryan was infamous for being aggressive on third downs, and constructed a team that is more suited for press man coverage, and Todd Bowles followed a similar mantra thereafter. All the receivers are well covered, forcing Andy Dalton to move up into the pocket and take a sack. One thing of note here is Darrelle Revis, who is on press coverage with AJ Green. Notice how Green is well covered on this play, and not an option for Dalton.
The Jets are again in press coverage to begin this play, but Marcus Williams moves backwards before the ball is snapped. The Bengals are trying to set up a screen pass on this play (as you can see the lack of effort from the three receivers to the right of the play), but defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas makes a nice play to break it up. Once again, the Jets succeed with press man coverage, and a single high safety.
This is actually a great play, and design by the Jets. Revis is again playing press man coverage on AJ Green and covers him extremely well on this play. However, the pass is going away from that side, and towards the right side of the line. The Jets show very good adjustment here because they show man coverage, but switch to zone near the end, which is why this pass is intercepted. When Dalton throws this ball, he is presuming man coverage, for which this is a great throw. The ball is already in the air prior to the receiver making the break towards the outside, but Marcus Williams is switching on this play, and intercepts this pass. If the Jets were in man coverage, this most likely would be a completed pass.
The Jets get a sack on this play, and for the most part the secondary does their job. Revis is actually caught out of position for this play, as there is a quick opening for a pass as he reacts to the route, but Dalton is not looking towards the receiver. The rest of the crew holds their ground, forcing Dalton to move up in the pocket and get sacked. The target for the Bengals is the deep in route through the middle, but Darron Lee is blocking the passing lane on this play with a safety over the top. Dalton tries to buy time by moving up, but it doesn’t end in success.
The Jets do a good job of getting the sack here, and preventing a TD. Revis is the only CB on this play to not show press coverage (although another CB rolls into zone coverage once the play goes in motion) and the Bengals are clearly going to target the right side of the field on this play. The Bengals correctly surmise that the right side of the field will have Green vs. Revis (playing back) and a receiver cutting across the middle with a safety having to make a choice. The safety doubles Green on this play briefly, causing Dalton to wait for the play to develop. However, Leonard Williams gets the sack before Dalton could pull the trigger. It’s a good thing, because Revis gets beat by Green once the safety moves on and Green has an easy TD ahead of him if there is more time on this play.
The Jets show press man coverage again, with tiered safeties, and stop the Bengals on this third down. Notice Revis covering AJ Green again, and how playing press coverage helps him stay right with Green. The Bengals go to a check down play and Darron Lee makes a good read, and great tackle in open space.
The defense comes out again in press coverage, except one corner, and get the job done. Again, notice Revis playing press coverage on Green and succeeding. The only CB not playing press coverage seems to be Buster Skrine, who promptly gets beat to the out route but Dalton is not looking towards him.
The Jets show press man coverage with a single high safety on this play, and they bring the pressure with Williams. Again, notice how the defense holds up with press coverage.
The Jets did show some good tendencies at times, but this is not a roster that was good at playing zone coverage. They excelled better at press man coverage. Revis does a much better job on the receiver when he is in press coverage, and it’s a complete mystery as to why he abandons it during this game, and in the subsequent games. While this does paint a decent picture of the defense, you may not feel the same after the next article, which deals with the failures.
The Jets have given two of their restricted free agents, 2nd round tender offers today. This means if either player is signed to an offer sheet that Jets would receive a 2nd round draft pick.
Restricted free agents have played three accrued seasons. The top two RFA tender options are first-round and second-round, which indicates the compensation a team would get if another NFL team signs an RFA with that tender to an offer sheet.
We have given 2nd-round tenders to a pair of RFAs, CB Marcus Williams and C Wesley Johnson.
After suffering a knee injury last week, Matt Forte will return to action tonight against the Miami Dolphins. Forte said he believes he’s been playing with a torn meniscus. Either way, between Forte being injured and Bilal Powell’s performance last week, Powell should have a significantly increased workload. Both Steve McLendon and Lorenzo Mauldin remain inactive this week. Neither practiced this week, McLendon is dealing with a hamstring injury while Mauldin has an ankle injury. Both players were solid contributors to the defense, and the Jets are running thin in the front seven. Brent Qvale, who isn’t on the inactives list, is also out today. The rookie Brandon Shell will take his place.
Other inactives include: Christian Hackenberg, Khiry Robinson, Buster Skrine, Mike Catapano, and Jalin Marshall
Jalin Marshall practiced fully on Friday, but he will be a healthy scratch. Marshall was returning punts in practice, but he’s had issues with fumbles throughout the season. Nick Marshall will likely resume handling the returning duties.
Mike Catapano and Buster Skrine are out today. Their absence will also be felt on the defense. Skrine was the starting cornerback opposite Darrelle Revis, but he was shaky at times and often drew unnecessary penalties. Marcus Williams will fill in for him, with Juston Burris likely seeing some time as well. Catapano was the edge rusher stepping in for Mauldin. The Jets are glaringly thin at that position with Mauldin and Catapano out.
Bringing back Khiry Robinson is beginning to look like an unwise decision seeing as Robinson hasn’t been able to practice since returning. Robinson was listed as doubtful after missing practice all week. That leaves Brandon Wilds as the third string running back.
Christian Hackenberg will be inactive again today, making Ryan Fitzpatrick the backup for Bryce Petty. Bowles said Hackenberg could be elevated to backup for the last couple of games this season.
The Jets will begin their three game stretch against division opponents to finish the season. Aside from seeing what they have in their younger players, the Jets are also looking to play spoiler for their division rivals. The Dolphins are looking for a wildcard berth, and the Jets could significantly hurt their chances with a win tonight.
While Ryan Fitzpatrick is active for today’s game, Bryce Petty will indeed get his first NFL start. Petty and Fitzpatrick split reps with the starters this week in practice, so Bowles likely knew his decision well before news broke last night. Fitzpatrick will backup Petty, and Hackenberg will remain on the bench. It’s a wise move to keep Hackenberg out, even with Fitzpatrick banged up. Nick Mangold will be out again after missing practice all week, leaving the offensive line hurting. Devin Smith was activated off the PUP list this week, but will have to wait to get his chance to contribute.
Other inactives include: Marcus Williams, Bruce Carter, Josh Martin, and Brandon Shell
After injuring his ankle last week, Marcus Williams is expected to miss multiple weeks. To replenish the roster the Jets signed corner Dexter McDougle from the practice squad. McDougle, a former third round pick, has only played in 14 games since being drafted and only has three total tackles and a pass defended. To make room for McDougle, the Jets waived tight end Kellen Davis.
Both linebackers Bruce Carter and Josh Martin are inactive this week, but Darron Lee will return to the lineup. Lee will start next to David Harris, with Julian Stanford likely getting some reps as well.
Brandon Shell will remain inactive, even with all of the injuries on the offensive line. Ryan Clady was recently sent to IR, making Ben Ijalana the starting left tackle. Nick Mangold is out as well with Wesley Johnson starting in his place.
The fan base is reinvigorated with the news that Bryce Petty will receive his first regular season start. It will be no easy task though against a stout Los Angeles Rams defensive line, not to mention with a banged up offensive line. Petty will get a chance to capture the starting gig with a floundering Fitzpatrick banged up. If Petty can play composed and lead the Jets to a win, they’ll enter the bye at 4-6. If not, the Jets will enter the bye at 3-7. This is the Jets last stand.