The New York Jets pulled off an upset against division rival New England Patriots in week seven, an effort that required contributions from every phase of the team. The front seven continues to shine, as New England was forced to run a pass happy game plan on Sunday. Opponents are struggling to develop a run game against the Jets stout defensive front, helping the secondary key in on an expected passing attack. Let’s take a look how the linebackers faired in the victory from week seven.
Grading System: For the 2013 season, I’ll use a simple grading scale when reviewing the linebackers. Each player will receiver a number 1-10, with 1 obviously being abysmal and 10 being outstanding. At the end of each review, I will nominate a linebacker poised to have an excellent game in the following week. Let’s get to it.
Harris continues to stay on the field the entire game (76 of 76 defensive snaps), an impressive feat for any linebacker. Fortunately for him, Antonio Allen handled lethal tight end Rob Gronkowski. With Harris keying on the run versus a pass happy Patriots team, he had his most under the radar game of the season. He notched four total tackles and seemed to play a lot of zone/spy coverage. The Patriots ran the ball less than twenty times, leaving Harris to sit in the middle of the field for a majority of the game. His only blatant flaw was hitting the wrong hole on Stevan Ridley’s 17 yard touchdown run. He saw the fullback go one way and followed too strongly. While this was a big time mistake, Calvin Pace was the biggest GOAT on that play, which I will touch on later. Quiet day for Harris, which can be expected as teams shy away from the run against a superb Jets front seven.
Davis seems to be handling the man coverage versus opposing running backs, a job he has shined at, especially in comparison to Bart Scott (the guy he replaced). Tom Brady only completed three passes to his half backs for ten yards, an impressive showing on Davis part. As I previously mentioned, the Patriots failed to establish a consistent run game. The touchdown run from Ridley was designed to run away from Davis’ side, a smart move against the speedy linebacker. He finished with four solo tackles and five assisted tackles, a solid day from the “do-it-all” linebacker.
McIntyre only played in 5 defensive snaps, an extremely low amount for a player that had a decent role on defense. Maybe Rex Ryan is realizing he is a very mediocre player who should be limited to a depth player role. Not really fair to grade his performance on five snaps.
Pace continues to see a heavy amount of time on the field as he logged 49 snaps Sunday. He struggles in coverage and is pulled from specific packages due to this weakness. He is a very average pass rusher at best that makes the most of playing on an a front seven loaded with talent. After notching his fourth sack Sunday, Pace is on pace (see what I did there?) for his highest sack total in one season as a Jet. Now that we’re past all that lovely mediocre stat talk, it is time to call him out on what he has struggled with all season: setting the edge. I’ve watched Ridley’s 17 yard touchdown scamper 20 times and it still amazes me how locked up Calvin Pace is. The right tackle absolutely dominates him to the inside leaving Ridley the entire right side of the field to gallop forward. This is inexcusable, especially against a team that hasn’t even had success running the ball. The only excuse I’ll give Pace is that the entire team was smoked on this drive due to Tom Brady’s execution of the hurry up offense.
75 of 76 snaps is an all time high for Quinton Coples this season, which was not an intelligent strategy from Rex Ryan. Coples was so gassed at one point he wasn’t even facing the right way on a pass rush move. As much as he has struggled all season, his strip sack was an encouraging sign. He has been poor in block shedding all season and got creative by reaching out to strip Tom Brady. Unfortunately the Jets didn’t recover, but this isn’t Coples fault. The bottom line is that Coples is not getting to the quarterback right now. He looks gassed and at half speed, which makes you wonder if he rushed back from his early season injury? Either way the one sack is a baby step in the right direction from “Q.”
Linebacker Poised For Week 5 Success: Andy Dalton loves throwing to rookie Gio Bernard, leaving Demario Davis poised for a big week in coverage. If Davis locks down Bernard, he will assert himself as one of the better young linebackers in the league. He’s been superb against the run all season and had bright spots in coverage, at this point all he is missing is one “big play” to ignite the defense much like Antonio Allen did against the Patriots.