Three Up, Three Down From Jets' Loss To Patriots

The highs and lows for the Jets, after falling to 0-3
Michael Nania
Fri, September 27, 10:59 AM EDT

Three Up:

 

Jamal Adams

Adams did not necessarily have his best game against the Patriots, but one needs to grasp at straws to find positives from the Jets’ most recent blowout loss.

On the plus side, Adams recorded his first career touchdown. In the fourth quarter, he picked off Patriots backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham and took the pass 61 yards to the house, cutting the Patriots lead to 16 and forcing Tom Brady back into the game.

However, Adams did make a few mistakes in this game. Most notably, he played a part in the coverage bust that allowed Phillip Dorsett to score a 25-yard touchdown reception without being touched.

Regardless, the fact that Adams showcased the ability to make a game-changing scoring play was promising. Hopefully for the Jets, Adams can provide more of those plays when it actually counts.

Special teams

The only one of the three units that was competent in New England was the special teams.

There was a lot to like from the unheralded unit in this game. First off, kicker Sam Ficken nailed both of his two extra point attempts. He has now gone two consecutive games without a missed kick to start his Jets career – that’s nothing special, but it’s something that Jets fans have been longing to see since the beginning of the preseason.

New York also got a big game from veteran special teams ace Albert McClellan. He collected a whopping total of four tackles on the punt coverage team against New England. A late pickup by Joe Douglas prior to the season, McClellan has made a positive impact as a regular member of four special teams units.

Most notably, the Jets scored their first touchdown in Foxboro since 2015 in the most unconventional of ways. Off of a Lachlan Edwards punt, Patriots rookie returner Gunner Olszewski muffed the catch attempt, and Arthur Maulet recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. Maulet did a good job beating his man down the field, putting himself in position to scoop up the ball in case it was dropped. When Olszewski let the ball hit the grass, Maulet was right there to dive for it and get into the end zone.

Just as is the case with Adams, hopefully the Jets can continue to get these positive contributions out of the special teams unit at times when they still have a chance to win the game.

Brian Poole

Poole posted really good coverage numbers once again for the Jets defense. The Patriots threw the ball his way seven times, and Poole allowed only five receptions for 24 yards (3.4 per target) and one first down.

So far, the Jets have more than gotten their money’s worth from Poole, who was signed by the Jets as an unrestricted free agent after spending the first three years of his career in Atlanta. Of the 86 cornerbacks to play at least 70 snaps in coverage this season, Poole ranks third-best with an average of only 0.36 yards allowed per cover snap. Only Shaquill Griffin (Seahawks) and Desmond Trufant (Falcons) stand ahead – putting Poole tops among AFC cornerbacks.

Of course, Poole gets a boost in those numbers thanks to the struggles of his teammates on the outside. He has also benefited from a couple of drops by opponents. Regardless, Poole has still played strong football to start the season. If the Jets are going to salvage this season, Poole will most likely be part of the reason why.

 

Three Down:

 

Offensive line

Just as you can expect the Earth to continue rotating, you can expect the Jets offensive line to continue playing terrible football.

Against the Patriots, Le’Veon Bell was not given any room to work with in the run game. He rushed for just 35 yards, including a whopping 38 after contact. That means Bell gained a total of -3 yards before contact. It is going to be extremely difficult to win football games with that level of run blocking.

In pass protection, Luke Falk took a beating. The first-time starting quarterback was sacked five times for a total of 29 yards.

The early bye week is a blessing for the Jets in a lot of ways – one of those is the opportunity to shake up the offensive line. None of the five starters should be safe from the bench, but the Jets would probably be best served starting their overhaul in the middle.

Ryan Kalil has been a disaster. Pulled out of retirement late in the offseason, he has not looked ready to play at all. In particular, the communication issues up front have been constant, and that starts with the center. Kalil never got to play with his fellow starters in the preseason, and their lack of camaraderie has showed up on a regular basis.

Perhaps a switch to Jonotthan Harrison would fix those problems. Harrison started five games at center for the Jets last season, and was the first-team center throughout the entirety of the offseason until Kalil arrived. He is not an elite player, but he is a lot better than what Kalil has shown thus far. Plus, his chemistry with the rest of the line would absolutely be better.

We will have to wait and see if the Jets are bold enough to switch up their offensive line this early, but all evidence suggests that they would be smart to go ahead and make some changes before they head to Philadelphia next week.

Leonard Williams and Henry Anderson

Williams shows up on this side of the list for the second consecutive week, while Anderson makes his first appearance.

A silent afternoon in New England is the reason we see the Jets’ marquee defensive linemen in the “dud” section following a blowout loss. Williams and Anderson were relied upon to drive the Jets pass rush against Tom Brady, as the pair led the team in pass rush snaps with 34 and 29, respectively. Yet, they gave the Jets nothing. Neither player was credited with recording a single pressure. That is not going to get it done against Tom Brady – or any quarterback, for that matter.

Anderson and Williams are each still looking for their first sack of the season. It has been a highly disappointing start for the duo, especially given the high expectations that came with the arrival of Gregg Williams’ aggressive defensive approach.

Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts

The cornerback position continues to plague Gang Green. Predictably, the Patriots had no problem exploiting the biggest hole in the Jets defense. New England’s passing attack is one of the league’s most dangerous, while Bill Belichick and Tom Brady know how to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses better than anybody.

After being benched against the Browns, Johnson started against the Patriots – a curious decision by Gregg Williams given the fact that the cornerback group was solid without him in Week 2. Johnson gave up two first downs across just eight snaps on the Patriots’ first drive of the game, which culminated in a touchdown. In turn, Williams benched Johnson for the remainder of the game.

Roberts had a rough game, as his former team targeted him early and often. New England completed eight passes for 96 yards and five first downs against Roberts, including a three-yard touchdown reception by Julian Edelman.

Gregg Williams has done a decent job navigating the personnel deficiencies at this position so far. Joe Douglas pickup Nate Hairston has impressed over the last two games, while Brian Poole has had a strong start.

Williams also deserves credit for benching Johnson in spite of his contract. Johnson had some of his best moments under Williams when they shared time together with the Rams, so Williams knows what Johnson brings to the table better than anybody. Clearly, Johnson no longer possesses the athleticism required to play cornerback in the NFL, and Williams has adjusted accordingly.

Neither Williams nor head coach Adam Gase were around when Johnson signed with the Jets, so they have no reason to hand him playing time because of his salary. Johnson has played terrible football for the Jets, and the team is better with him on the bench. Although it is questionable as to why Johnson started the game against the Patriots in the first place, Williams did the right thing by benching him immediately.

It is going to be tough for the Jets to thrive defensively with the level of talent they have at cornerback, but their defensive coordinator has done a decent job mitigating the unit to this point of the season. He will need to keep that up over the first three weeks out of the bye, as the Jets will clash with the Eagles and Cowboys before taking on the Patriots in a rematch.

 

By Michael Nania

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