David Aitken looks at Robby Anderson’s current level, concerns on the offensive line, the status of Game of Tanks and Jamal Adams…
“How good is Robby Anderson?” isn’t really a question people have tried to answer so far with clinical examination. When your highlight reel to date is five minutes of burning past corners and the ball sailing way off target, people are fine at this point knowing that the potential for a dangerous player is there. Sunday brought a touchdown 19 games in the making, as Robby Anderson blew past Alterraun Verner and at last a quarterback was able to place the ball in stride for a 69-yard touchdown grab.
But what else of his team lead tying six targets? His game Sunday was both confirmation of the player we always thought we had and the areas we need to see him improve if he’s going to be a key offensive piece in the future.
Below is his touchdown, and this is why he’s such a potentially dangerous option. The corner lets Anderson basically run in a straight line from the snap and is beat by the time they’ve run ten yards.
Being a team’s prime vertical threat is not just about being able to put distance between yourself and the defender deep. Sometimes you’ll only get half a step and a contested catch point – you need the strength to deal with the defender and come down with it cleanly as well as the concentration to make the catch in traffic. Being able to win more consistently here would make Anderson a bigger red zone threat.
Contested catch point, but has opportunity to make the catch. A concentration lapse as the ball goes through his hands and he’s unable to cradle it to his chest. Getting featured more heavily in an offense as a receiver has a lot to do with being reliable. The play below may be a little harsh to judge Anderson on too critically but the occasional drops have been a problem in his young career. In this case it seems as if he’s expecting a hit to come back from the inside and it affects the way he attacks this ball.
As an undrafted free agent pickup Robby Anderson has already over-delivered on his draft status, and he’s been let down by teammates so far in his career in terms of production. But he has a chance to be a big part of the Jets’ future plans over the coming years. If he’s just going to be a one-trick-pony deep threat there’s always room for that. But using this season as a platform for young players to grow into bigger roles, it’d be nice to see Anderson become an even more dangerous player over the course of 2017.
One of a Kind
Each consecutive week better than the last, Jamal Adams has hit the ground running and should firmly be in the Defensive Rookie of the Year discussion. He’s already one of the team’s best players.
Quit playing with me. Quit comparing me. I'm me. pic.twitter.com/8W4hUiGXZz
— JamalAdams (@TheAdams_era) September 26, 2017
Nonetheless, players I will compare him to:
Leonard Williams – already having just as big an impact as Leo did during his rookie season.
Kerry Rhodes – the last time I remember a safety racking up passes defensed, sacks and tackles for a loss like this in a Jets uniform was when Kerry Rhodes first exploded with his breakout year in 2006.
Adrian Wilson – I put Adams becoming an Adrian Wilson type of playmaker when I wrote this after the draft as what best case scenario could look like. So far, so good.
Players I will not compare him to:
Landon Collins – Why would anyone do this? That’d be a terrible, terrible mistake.
Jamal Adams – TFL king pic.twitter.com/Ygs8JmygTP
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) September 25, 2017
The above was Miami’s first run play and set the tone for how the rest of the game was going to be played. Adams gets under Julius Thomas and knocks him off the edge to free himself for 1-on-1 with Ajayi for a tackle for a loss. Thomas isn’t known for blocking prowess but safeties don’t regularly come up and knock tight ends around in the run game regardless.
Pre-draft there was some skepticism (from myself included) on how valuable a safety can be when taken as high as the top ten. This game was the advertisement for that impact. Below is the clip of the back-to-back plays near the end of the first half that forced Miami to punt deep in their own territory. Adams shows excellent range to attack the ball on the sideline on second down, and follows it up with a tremendous blitzing effort on Miami’s right guard Jermon Bushrod. Adams actually pushes the 315 pounder into Cutler and causes Cutler’s release from the pocket, and Adams is able to clean up easy once Cutler leaves it.
— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 25, 2017
He’s a good one. Maccagnan did well.
Defending the Run
Given how the first two weeks went, the last thing anyone would have expected was a performance against the run as good as what the Jets delivered on Sunday. Sure, Miami’s 14 runs to 45 passes helped, but 14 carries for 21 yards amongst running backs tells it’s own story.
Miami had a hard time moving bodies upfront and the Jets’ linebackers were more disciplined than they’ve been all year. Lee’s been a (deserved) target of criticism early on but even Sunday was a better game from him compared to what we’ve seen early. But this was a next-level performance from Demario Davis especially, who seemingly knew where Ajayi was going to be before Miami’s plays could develop.
Which is the “real” run defense? There’s probably elements of both Weeks 1-2 and last week in the answer to that question. The Jets defense played two bullies upfront Weeks 1 and 2 and played an incredibly disjointed unit last week. This was a much better game from the inside linebackers than the first two, but the Dolphins did not put as much stress on them as the previous opponents (particularly Oakland) did. We’ll have a better idea this Sunday, with a decently skilled and run-committed team coming to Metlife in the Jaguars.
This was not a good game for Brandon Shell, and I would go as far to say it’s premature labeling him a success of the rebuild at this point. He hasn’t been good in the run game so far through three games, and optimism toward his pass protection should be guarded by the fact he sometimes receives help and McCown gets the ball out quickly.
He had a hard time with Cameron Wake in pass protection. Below happened early on Sunday, just the second play of the game. Wake is a tough matchup, but in the modern NFL a right tackle needs to be a strong pass protector too with the amount of quality edge rushers that regularly line up on the offense’s right. This is as cleanly as you’ll see a tackle beat all season.
On the below Wake utilizes a similar move. Shell has a better base this time, but once again lets Wake get under the outside arm and rips through to force McCown to step up into a sack.
Going a step further with the offensive line, it’s clear this unit needs a bluechip player somewhere, particularly a player that can take the run game up a level. Shell may end up finding his footing throughout the season, and we’re not moving the guards any time soon. That leaves the left tackle and center. The Jets are paying Beachum a nice veteran deal to be here in the medium term, and he’s been ok. He can struggle with length and power in pass protection and he’s been a liability in the run game. Johnson so far looks more like a backup center than a worthy Mangold replacement. If only we could repeat 2006’s first round.
#Tanks for Nothing
It only took three weeks for the Jets to get their first win, and as comfortable as they come. Talk of the Jets being 0-16 or “the worst roster in the last ten years” always was over the top – going winless is as rare a feat as going undefeated. Having one of the league’s least talented rosters is no guarantee that the wins/losses are going to reflect that over a sixteen game season.
Yet I wouldn’t be so quick to call this Same Old Jets: Bad at Tanking Edition either. The Jets have some bright spots, but still some major holes that are going to be exploited week-to-week as the season goes on.
Miami last Sunday was awful. Credit to the Jets players and staff for out-preparing and out-classing this Dolphins team over 60 minutes, but Miami’s incompetence flattered the Jets greatly.
The Jets could have told Miami that bringing in a mid-30’s mediocre veteran quarterback who spent the offseason lounging on the couch to save your season is not a good idea. Jay Cutler was terrible, and in a way I did not expect. Yes, he missed opportunities by being slow to react, or reacting poorly to pressure, and sometimes he blew opportunities by simply throwing a bad ball. But to my surprise the DON’T CARE legend was, of all things, gun shy. There were opportunities to push the ball down field that Cutler avoided for whatever reason. Maybe he didn’t want to subject himself to a hit, or risk turning it over early. But the Jets had coverage lapses that were unpunished.
Offensively, the Jets may be scoring better than their Metlife roommates but you get the feeling this is the offense mostly operating as intended. This offense only has one speed and shouldn’t be expected to consistently score at a higher rate than they have already. The feeling from Sunday is that McCown and this Jets offense were playing good football, yet only managed 20 points. The team so far is scoring below what tends to be the year-to-year league average.
The worry regarding the Jets’ position in Game of Tanks could really get out of hand with the upcoming two weeks being the schedule’s most winnable. But even the Jaguars and Browns propose their own unique challenges, and the remainder of the schedule will still be a slog to get through. No matter how you feel, I’d say last Sunday changes nothing. It was a win. It felt good. Enjoy it.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com