TOJ’s In The Trenches: New York Jets Defensive Line Review, Week Two
Dan Essien gives a week 3 preview of the Jets’ defensive line.
In our weekly In The Trenches series we’ll focus on the performances of the Jets’ offensive and defensive lines throughout the season. In this edition, Dan discusses the performance of the defensive line in the Jets’ week 2 loss to the Patriots and previews the week 3 matchup with the Denver Broncos.
Will Parkinson interviews Ben Albright about the Week 3 Broncos matchup.
On this episode of the Turn on the Jets podcast, host Will Parkinson is joined by NFL insider and Broncos reporter Benjamin Albright as they react to the Broncos fast start, the Jets early struggles, and preview the game and whether it’ll be as one sided as the spread suggests.
Stephen Zantz previews Week 3 with his Pick Six column.
The PickSix column officially returns as TOJ Live Co-Host Stephen Zantz answers your Twitter questions. He, also, will consider questions that Joe Caporoso doesn’t get a chance to answer during his weekly Saturday AMAs. Don’t forget to tweet Stephen questions every week at @szantz on Twitter.
TOJ Pod: Quarterback Play ft. Mark Schofield and Quincy Avery
Will Parkinson interviews Mark Schofield and Quincy Avery on this episode of the TOJ Pod.
On this special episode of the TOJ Pod, Will Parkinson talks with two experts on QB play: Mark Schofield of USA Today and Quincy Avery, a private QB Coach for NFL QBs. They discuss the state of the New York Jets and Zach Wilson as a Quarterback.
1st & 10: Zach Squanders Opportunity Against the Patriots
Stephen Russo analyzes the Jets’ Week 2 performance in this week’s 1st & 10.
This was a winnable game and the Jets will be kicking themselves for squandering this opportunity. It was the home opener, with fans chomping at the bit for Jets football, and quite frankly, Zach Wilson pissed it away. The rookie is going to have games like this, but we have to call it what it is: a poor performance by a young QB when everything else went surprisingly well. The Jets’ linemen blocked, the defense played well, and they ran the ball effectively. And while you know struggles are going to come, you really wish they weren’t against the Patriots for once. This one is on Zach Wilson. (more…)
TOJ’s Know Your Opponent: Week 2 v New England Patriots
We all know this team. We all hate this team. But this team is not Tom Brady’s Patriots anymore.
Coaching- Bill Bellicheck has been at the top of the game for 20 years. He still runs the defense for the Pats and that unit is always well coached and aggressive. Josh McDaniels runs the offense and, while he has the reputation for being a good offensive mind, his non-Tom Brady offenses have not been good at all.
Offense: Mac Jones was efficient in his debut and is an accurate QB, but he is still a rookie making his first road start. The Patriots OL is excellent: Isaiah Wynn is one of the better LTs in the game and both Shaq Mason and Michael Onwenhu are ass-kickers at guard. Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith are good tight ends and Damien Harris is a solid running back, but this offense really lacks the playmakers to make explosive plays.
Defense: Even without Stephon Gilmore, this defense is very good. After opting out of 2020 Dont’a Hightower is back and he is still one of the best linebackers in the game. The Patriots have the most edge talent they have had in years with a solid veteran in Matt Judon and exciting ascending players like Josh Uche and Chase Winnovich. JC Jackson is a ball hawking corner who Zach Wilson should avoid targeting as much as possible.
Weaknesses- Due to the Stephon Gilmore injury, Jalen Mills has to start and he is terrible. Zach Wilson’s favorite target should be whoever Mills has to cover on the given play. Mac Jones is a rookie making his first road start so he is going to make mistakes. With Trent Brown out, the Jets’ DL has the ability to really pressure Mac and force a couple of turnovers.
Matchup- Seeing how bad the Jets OL played in week 1 this Pats defense should scare you, especially with no Mekhi Becton. Belicheck is the best in the league at designing creeper pressures and stunts and that can really destroy an OL who has massive communication issues. The Jets corners were frisky week 1 and I do not think the Pats have the WRs or the QB who can really take advantage of this inexperienced group. The Pats want to run the ball and that plays into the Jets strength with their DL. Bill Belicheck has a great record against rookie QB’s at 21-6 but he is only 8-6 vs. them on the road so I think if Zach continues his play from last week this team can score points.
Prediction: Patriots 20 Jets 16. I do not think the Patriots offense can make explosive plays and can blow teams out. I think the Jets keep it close but ultimately the OL lets them down again and the Pats win a close back and forth game.
TOJ Bankroll: Coach Nolan’s Week 2 NFL Best Bets & Just Equal The Spread w/ Stephen Zantz
I’ve taken the season off from coaching and I need to find a way to get the competitive juices flowing. No better way to get some skin in the game than throwing some bets down. I’ll be posting my weekly best bets on TOJ. I generally employ a mix of football analysis and line movement analysis to handicap games. See my midweek preview of the betting lines here and my Week 1 picks here.
My favorite comedian, Norm MacDonald, passed away this week. It has been a rough week of listening to tributes and going down the Norm YouTube rabbit hole, a place I’ve spent a lot of time whenever I’m bored. Norm was a notorious degenerate gambler. In honor of him, let us win a lot of money this week. And, if not, maybe we give it up and go cold turkey by throwing all of our money in the Atlantic Ocean from the Atlantic City Boardwalk as Norm once famously did.
Week 1 Results: 3-4 (43%, -2.77 units)
Teaser of the Week: 1-0 (100%, 1.82 units)
Overall: 4-4 (50%, -0.95 units)
Week 1 Recap
All in all, not the start I was looking for in this column. Luckily, I was bailed out by some props, teasers, and some last-minute Sunday morning plays to come out slightly on the plus side for the Week. As this column evolves, I will post some props and hopefully update Sunday morning if there are any last-minute plays I like.
Had a couple of bad beats. As I stated last week, I wish I got the +5.5 line on the Jets. We would have somehow covered despite a disappointing performance. Fitzmagic went down last week and took the loss at home to the Chargers. I was able to get the 49ers -7 early last week to avoid the back door cover, but in my column, I said to still take them at -8.5 and we, therefore, have to take the L. The lesson here is if you like a line early in the week, jump on it before it moves.
The other key this week is to not overreact to what we saw in a 1-game sample size in Week 1.
Game Preview In what should be the 1st of many battles between these rookie QBs, both teams try to bounce back and get their first win of the season. The Patriots lost a close one to the Miami Dolphins on the road after Damien Harris fumbled away a potential game-winning drive. The Jets started off slow, but Zach Wilson seemed to get into a rhythm in the 2nd half. The offensive line is a huge concern coming out of week 1. They struggled to protect Wilson, couldn’t get the run game going, and now Mekhi Becton is out with a sprained MCL.
Line Movement and Trends
This line opened up with the Patriots as -4 favorites and has since been bet up to -6. As I said in my Week 2 preview, I thought this line could get up to the -6 to -7 range. After the Jets Week 1 performance and the loss of Mekhi Becton, the heavy bets have been coming in on the Patriots. As of Thursday, 85% of bets were coming in on the Patriots’ side.
The total opened at 42.5 and is now sitting at 42 (41.5 at some books). The under has hit in 8 of the last 9 games for the Patriots.
The Pick Under 42 (1 unit)
If I had to take a side, I’d lean towards taking the Patriots. That being said, I’m going to lay off the side. It’s too many points for me and it feels like everyone will be on the Patriots’ side. I am, however, going to take the under. I know this is the 2nd lowest total of the week. But the Patriots have hit the under often, especially on the road. I don’t always follow trends, but the efficient, methodical style of offense the Pats want to play lends itself to moving the chains and moving the clock. And I don’t see the Jets putting up a lot of points against a good Pats defense.
Best Bets from Around the League
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (+4) (1 unit) This is a prime example of not overreacting to what you saw in week 1. The Saints dismantled the Packers. It was about as good as the Saints could play and as bad as the Packers could play. Expect them to revert to the mean a little this week especially with defensive injuries and a COVID outbreak. I’ll take Carolina to cover at home.
Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns (-12.5) (1 unit) I usually don’t like to take double-digit lines, but I’m going to do it here. I still think the Texans are terrible despite what we saw last week. The Browns are going to want to take care of business after a tough loss to the Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5) (1 unit) I know I said I never bet the Eagles, but I can’t help dropping a unit on them this week. Jalen Hurts and crew looked great last week. I realize it was against a bad Falcons team, but as the defensive injuries have piled for the 9ers, I like the Eagles more and more to cover at Lincoln Financial Field.
Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5) (1 unit) I mentioned this one in my midweek preview and the line is finally starting move up. I got it at -5.5. The Steelers went on the road and handled the Bills, many people’s Super Bowl favorites. I expect a let down spot here for the Raiders after an emotional win on Monday night and will take the Steelers to cover.
Los Angeles Chargers over 28 points (1 unit) I jumped on this earlier this week. I see a high-scoring game here (And so does Vegas) and saw more value in taking Dallas out of the equation, especially after the total jumped 5 points. The Chargers looked good offensively, but they struggled in the Red Zone against a very good WFT defense. I don’t see that being an issue this week.
Teaser of the Week None. No spreads fit my criteria for a teaser this week.
Top Props (Half unit on each) -Jonathan Taylor over 13.5 receiving yards
-Keenan Allen over 77.5 receiving yards
-Justin Jefferson over 70 receiving yards
-DeVonta Smith over 3.5 receptions
-Nick Chubb over 84.5 rushing yards
-Antonio Brown over 66.5 receiving yards
Just Equal The Spread, Week 2
TOJ Weekly Pick-Em Week 1 Standings
DraftSZN Presents: Dylan’s Dimes, Week 2 Edition
Dylan’s Dimes will be a ten-step breakdown of three of the biggest draft-eligible players taking the field in some of the biggest matchups each week. I analyze the background, on-the-field performance, off-the-field traits, opinions around the NCAA, all leading up to the dropping the dime on how they could fit with the New York Jets.
Well, hopefully, this isn’t the beginning of a DD curse, as the Buckeyes and the Cyclones lost last weekend after featuring their playmakers prominently in the series opener. With that said, we’re back for another edition of Dylan’s Dimes.
The first prospect kicking off this week’s edition of Dylan’s Dimes is an absolute mountain of a man. He anchors the Crimson Tide, and as they head to Gainesville for a massive matchup with the Florida Gators, this player will be crucial to the team’s success. That player is Evan Neal, Tackle, Alabama.
On the opposing side of Neal and the Bama offense will be the Gators defense. A defense that is led by one of the top secondary prospects in the country. Florida has produced some talented corners in the past few years, but this one has the potential to be one of the best. The second player going under the microscope will be Kaiir Elam, Corner, Florida.
This weekend’s most anticipated game takes place far from the south, instead it takes place in the Northeast. One of the cornerstones of a defense that has played incredibly well the past two weeks will be the last player going through the ringer, and that will be Jaquan Brisker, Safety, Penn State.
-Weight: 351 lbs
-From: Okeechobee, FL
-Weight: 193 lbs
-From:Riviera Beach, FL
-From: Pittsburgh, PA
Neal was born and raised in Okeechobee, Florida before making the decision to transfer to the notorious IMG Academy. From there, Neal garnered more notoriety and landed himself in the 2019 Under Armour All America Game. Neal then landed himself at Alabama where he became a National Champion in 2021.
Elam was a three sport athlete in high school playing basketball and football, while also running track. He was named the Palm Beach 5A-1A defensive player of the year. He was ranked as one of the top 5 prospects in the country and received offers from some of the top schools in the nation before selecting Florida.
Brisker was a talented piece of the Gateway Senior High Football program, he landed All-Big East 5A all-section honors twice. He was named team MVP twice and was an all-section recipient for Basketball twice as well. He then attended Lackawana Community College where was ranked as one of the top 30 JUCO prospects in the country and an All-American recipient in 2018. That was before he transferred to Penn State for his remaining years.
2019 & 2020 Statistics:
2019: Helped aide the team’s 3.0% sack rate and 44% of the team’s rushing attempts resulting in gains of 5 or more yards.
2020: 1.5 sacks allowed, 4 QB hurries and 3 Pressures.
2020: 9 games, 57 tackles, 3.0 TFLs, 1 INT and 5 pass deflections.
There is a lot of good in Evan Neal’s game. I have had the pleasure of evaluating some of the top linemen in the past two classes, but Neal immediately strikes me as one of the best. Neal is a superb run blocker who uses his weight in an efficient manner. Neal adds even more in the passing game, as he’s protected his Quarterbacks at an incredible rate. Pass rushers rarely get by Neal and his hand usage allows him to create enough space that even when the pocket collapses he can keep his man from capitalizing. Neal’s best trait is his strength, I genuinely believe this guy could move mountains.
Elam has excellent height for a corner, and this allows him to cover ground quickly with a large stride. Elam is versatile and can slot inside or outside. He’s fluid in coverage and can work well to catch back up to opposing receivers if he loses a step. He’s a good press corner and he uses his reach well to avoid falling behind in the first place. Overall, Elam is a very skilled corner, with room to grow, but lots of strong base skills to develop.
Brisker reminds me of (don’t hate me Jets fans) a little bit of a Jamal Adams lite. Brisker is a refined tackler, leader and overall warrior. Brisker fights through pain, fights through adversity and has come back from injuries and even attending a JUCO school. Brisker is an excellent tackler, but above all else, he’s a leader who’s capable of being a core fixture of a defense.
For me, Neal grades out as a nearly flawless prospect at times. The minimal issues with Neal stem from a lack of quickness and athleticism. Understandably, a lineman with as big of a frame as Neal is going to be weighed down, but Neal could stand to improve his fast twitch muscles and general athleticism.
Elam has a lot of strong base skills and fundamentals as I noted before. He can stand to improve, but Elam needs to react more efficiently and quickly. He’s a decent tackler, nothing exceptional, but productive. He does need to react quicker to plays 10-15 yards and in, as he can struggle to keep his head on a swivel at times, specifically in that zone.
The doubts with Brisker were never that he was a good tackler, as I noted before, he’s one of the best in the class. For Brisker though, heading into the season, the questions surrounded his range in coverage and playmaking ability. Although I’ve seen flashes of growth in that area this season, he has a big test against Auburn tonight, and a few other games on the schedule where he can demonstrate potential growth in coverage.
7/10-The Focus of Improvement:
Range in Coverage
Neal is a franchise left tackle. There’s no deep elaboration needed about how he can grow moving forward. I am a little nervous that his frame could be a threat for injuries, but his skill set is so advanced that he can still overcome those doubts. Neal will make a quarterback very happy, and potentially extend a quarterback’s career.
C.J. Henderson was a quality cornerback for the Florida Gators, and he’s struggled to transition to the pros at times. I am sure the comparison will be made between the two, but they are very different players. Elam has the press ability and adaptiveness to be a number one corner at the next level. His short yardage coverage is worrisome, but if he can improve his reactions, he will be a top tier corner at the next level.
Brisker is a little harder to gauge when it comes to potential. Brisker is a very strong prospect with good character and tackling abilities. If he doesn’t show significant coverage and durability strides, he will likely be a late first rounder or early second. I do expect Brisker to do well at the next level, but of the three players, fit will be most imperative for Brisker moving forward.
9/10-The Outside Opinion:
“Neal has some blemishes, but it’s hard to find players who possess his combination of size, length and quickness. He plays with a nasty temperament and solid overall awareness. I believe there’s a happy medium where he can maintain his violent play style while demonstrating a little more body control to avoid falling off blocks. He has the skill set of a 10-year starting right tackle.”- Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network
Kaiir Elam might just be the best cornerback in the 2022 NFL Draft. I know that may sound brash in a class that boasts LSU star Derek Stingley Jr. and Cincinnati clamp machine Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. But the Florida CB is right there with them, and he has the amalgamation of physical and mental traits to take his game to the next level in 2021.”- Ian Cummings, Pro Football Network
“Brisker is an excellent run defending safety. He reads developing plays well and shoots gaps quickly. Has straight-line speed to fill the hole fast. He recognizes plays quickly and has a ton of feel for the game.”-Sports Illustrated NFL Draft Fan Nation
The Jets invested their future in Mekhi Becton when they selected him two years ago. Becton is a mammoth of a man, just as is Evan Neal. Neal is a superb blocker, but Becton and him both have that big frame that concerns me. Moving forward the Jets could be in the market for another addition to the offensive line, and he could be of value, especially if they kicked him inside. Neal would be a massive edition, and Gang Green would happily welcome another protector for Zach Wilson.
Elam may be the best fit of the three for the Jets. Elam would give the Jets a legitimate number one cornerback. Although I have concerns about some portions of his game, Elam can be a star in the NFL and having him in the green and white would give the Jets their first legitimate star corner since the Revis Island days.
The Jets need a safety for the future, and if Brisker falls to the second or third round of the draft, he would be a great piece. However, safety is not a place the Jets need to target with their first rounder. I think Brisker would be best fit in a situation like Pittsburgh where he could be a running mate to someone like Minkah Fitzpatrick and learn from a veteran.
This Week On TOJ Live
TOJ’s In The Trenches: New York Jets Defensive Line Review, Week One
In our weekly In The Trenches series we’ll focus on the performances of the Jets’ offensive and defensive lines throughout the season. In this edition, Dan discusses the performance of the defensive line in the Jets’ week 1 loss to the Panthers. We’ll also preview the unit’s matchup with the Patriots in week 2.