The Jets had two weeks to prepare for the Buffalo Bills after an impressive win over the New Orleans Saints. Sounds like a formula for success, right? Unfortunately, the team had trouble on both sides of the ball all day long on Sunday. One of the few bright spots was the linebackers, a crew that is often overshadowed by the horrendous play of the New York secondary. Lets take a look at how they faired against the Bills on the road.
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 finished the game with five solo tackles and four assisted, staying very active against the run. The Bills ground game consists of the dynamic duo of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, with the latter being a consistent home run hitter. Spiller only managed six yards on 13 total carries and two catches for 10 yards. Fred Jackson split the carries with Spiller, but did not fair much better as he gained 34 yards on 12 carries (2.8 YPC). The Jets came into the game with hopes of shutting down the run and screen passes, and David Harris executed this plan perfectly. Unfortunately the secondary was putrid and helped overshadow the Jets inside linebacker’s excellent performance.
Demario DavisMuch like David Harris, Demario Davis was all over the field with three solo tackles and seven assisted. Davis a sideline to sideline linebacker and consistently finished off tackles when a player wraps up the ball carrier. E.J. Manuel torched the Jets with the long ball, leaving Davis and Harris limited opportunities to make an impact play. The bottom line is that these two are getting it done and teams are forced to beat the Jets in other areas (the terrible secondary).
Bonus Note: Harris and Davis once again played %100 of the defensive snaps (67 of 67)
Pace had the lone sack on the day and was finally not one of the weaker links in the Jets lousy performance on Sunday. He helped in run support, gave little room on the edge for the running backs, and made the most of the limited time he had to get the the quarterback. Hard to grade an edge player like Pace when Manuel would drop back and immediately bomb it down field, but overall a decent day for “old man Pace.”
Although Coples was unable to record a sack, we are seeing more punch in his game these past few weeks. In Buffalo he was a force against the run, finishing with five and a half tackles. He also played all 67 of the defensive snaps. Unfortunately, much like Calvin Pace, he was rarely given time to make a pass rushing move off of the edge. It will be interesting to see how he fairs against the Baltimore Ravens, a team struggling to protect their $20+ million dollar quarterback.
Troy Davis:Davis only logged nine snaps and finished with one assisted tackle. He’s flashed more than former reserve OLB Ricky Sapp, leading to Sapp’s recent release. In limited time he has shown speed off the edge, but his reps will be limited going forward.
Linebacker Poised For Week 12 Success: Ray Rice has had a down year, along with the rest of the former Super Bowl Champion Raven’s offense. I fully expect Demario Davis and David Harris to contain the ground game once again, but Quinton Coples will be the reason the Jets beat the Ravens in Baltimore. If the secondary holds up long enough, I predict “Q” will finish with 1 sack, a forced fumble, and 3 hurries on Joe Flacco.
Follow Connor on Twitter @Real_CR3