Although it’s early in the season and Sam Darnold’s development remains paramount, week 5 seemed like a tipping point for a team that was surrounded by scrutiny and seemingly trending in the wrong direction. Luckily, the Jets responded and took care of the Broncos thanks to strong performances across the board – the offense put up points and the defense was in control throughout the game, with the secondary keeping Case Keenum in check. Speaking of the secondary, the group was without number one corner Trumaine Johnson and lost Buster Skrine late in the 1st quarter, but was still able to limit the Broncos offense to 16 points.
This was not a perfect performance by New Jack City, as Case Keenum finished with 377 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. However, considering one of those touchdowns and a chunk of Keenum’s yardage came in garbage time, the stats are a bit misleading. Add in the fact the secondary was missing two regular starters for most of the afternoon, this was an encouraging game for a unit that was in desperate need of a good outing.
For one week at least, it looked like the secondary fixed some of the issues that may have been contributing to busted coverages in past weeks, whether that was miscommunication or blown assignments. The group was also more aggressive, which helped limit Keenum’s throwing lanes and long gains.
Even though Trumaine Johnson hasn’t had a strong start to the season, I was pleasantly surprised his absence wasn’t more impactful. Yes, it was against a subpar Denver passing attack, but it’s difficult to have to rely on players who are mainly special teamers or depth pieces for an entire game. With that being said, some of the mainstays on the Jets’ defense stepped up in a big way while the newcomers struggled a bit. Let’s take a look at week 5’s studs and duds:
Stud: CB Morris Claiborne
In a game where the Jets needed someone from the secondary to step up, Morris Claiborne certainly delivered. Serving as the team’s number one corner, he was effective in coverage, allowing 4 receptions on 9 targets for 47 yards and finished with 4 passes defended, a couple of which should’ve been interceptions. This was certainly an encouraging performance, but in order for the secondary to be successful without Buster Skrine and Trumaine Johnson, Claiborne will have to continue to play at or near the level we saw this past Sunday.
Dud: CB Parry Nickerson
Once Skrine left the game, Parry Nickerson received another opportunity for extended playing time with the starting defense. Unfortunately, he struggled once again. In the 2nd quarter, Nickerson was beat on consecutive plays of 31 and 24 yards, respectively – this put the Broncos deep into Jets territory and they wound up kicking an easy field goal. Nickerson has potential as a late round pick with some talent, but he has some work to do before being considered a future starter.
Stud: S Marcus Maye
After looking a little rusty in his first game back against the Jags, Marcus Maye looked to be in mid-season form in week 5. He was PFF’s highest rated Jet on defense, thanks to solid tackling and coverage throughout the game. Maye finished with 8 tackles, 0.5 sacks and an interception, which he was only able to return 104 yards, 1 yard shy of the Jets’ second defensive touchdown of the season. Maye should only get better with more time back on the field and the hope is he’s able to find some consistency in his sophomore season.
Dud: CB Darryl Roberts
Similar to Nickerson, Darryl Roberts received extra playing time this week due to injuries. He played in all but 4 snaps and had an up and down game, which is usually the case when Roberts gets a lot of action. The low point for him was in the 4th quarter where he was beat for a 42-yard touchdown by Demaryius Thomas. While it was in garbage time and the game was well out of reach, those are plays you’d like to see Roberts make as he starts to get more run during the season.
Week 6 Outlook
The Colts travel to Metlife Stadium and will be without TY Hilton, Jack Doyle and possibly Eric Ebron. Now that Andrew Luck is getting back on track, this offense is always a threat to put up points in a hurry. However, their offense doesn’t look nearly as explosive without the aforementioned pass catchers. If Ebron does play, I’m eager to watch Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams line up against such an athletic target.
New Jack City will once again be without Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine. Expect a lot of Roberts and Nickerson, with Rashard Robinson getting some snaps now that he’s been added to the active roster. This should be another strong showing for the secondary, which shouldn’t have trouble against the likes of Chester Rogers and Ryan Grant. Additionally, the defense likely will be able to get to Luck, increasing the opportunity for some turnovers. Let’s make it two in a row, Jets fans…