After an abysmal performance in Buffalo, the Jets needed a bounce back win in Baltimore. Unfortunately for Gang Green, the offense came out quite flat once again. On the flip side, the front seven was dominate and continues to beg their secondary for some help. The Ravens did not exactly light up the scoreboard but an anemic offensive performance from the entire Jets offense gave the team no chance to win. Let’s grade out the linebackers, a consistent bright spot for this young squad.
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 three assisted. He continues to shine against the run as Ray Rice carried the ball 16 times for 30 yards. Back up Bernard Pierce did not have much more success as he had 30 yards on 11 carries, both averaging less than three yards per carry. Harris has had limited opportunities to make an impact play with the secondary consistently getting beat deep, but he is as solid as they come in the middle of the field when playing the run. He also played 100% of the defensive snaps for the third time in a row this season.
Demario DavisDavis was oddly left in coverage against slot receiver Jacoby Jones a few times and to no surprise could not cover the speedster for too long. Other than that poor defensive scheme blemish, Davis had a rock solid game. His main priority besides stuffing the run (which he did) is to shut down the passing game to running backs. The Ravens back field had one catch for a loss of three yards the entire day. It is hard to ramble on about Harris and Davis as they are a consistent, sturdy duo in the middle of the field. If this team was winning games right now, a bulk of the spotlight would shine on them as they are leading the best run defense in football.
I’m really hard on Pace on these grade sheets but he has turned the corner in these past two blow outs. He recorded his seventh sack on the season and is finally sealing the edge against the run. While I give Harris and Davis a ton of credit for shutting down the run week after week, Pace deserves some of the spotlight. He should not be relied on as a premier pass rusher and will most likely be replaced this offseason, but he has really gone from a weak link to a solid piece with his recent play.
Coples is the toughest player to grade in the entire front seven. His early season injury truly set him back in his development and he hasn’t been a “stats” guy this season. At the end of the day, 1.5 sacks is a frustrating line for Coples to be at going into week 13. On the other hand, he looks quite good on tape. He isn’t exploding off the line to immediately get to the quarterback, but his secondary moves are working. The Jets have an awful secondary and the ball is often released by the time players in the front seven make their secondary move. If the secondary play can improve, Coples “hurries” would elevate drastically. In the meantime, he is sealing the edge and blowing up idiotic reverses, a sign of him refining his overall game. This is a big weak for “Q” against a weak Miami line, especially off the edge.
Linebacker Poised For Week 13 Success: I never thought I would say this, but Calvin Pace could be the reason the Jets win this week. I fully expect David Harris and Demario Davis to shutdown a very mediocre Miami rushing attack. Quinton Coples will most likely be spotlighted and doubled with help from a tight end. Pace is often left unblocked at times and needs to come up with a strip sack on Ryan Tannehill. The Jets are struggling on offense and creating turnovers to win field position is the perfect recipe for a turn around.Follow Connor on Twitter @Real_CR3