TOJ’s In The Trenches: New York Jets Defensive Line Review, Week Ten

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 10 loss to the Buffalo Bills and preview their week 11 matchup with the Miami Dolphins.

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Know Your Opponent: Buffalo Bills

The New York Jets have struggled mightily against AFC East opponents in recent years and, on Sunday, the best team in the division comes to MetLife.

Coaching: Sean McDermott is one of the 5 best coaches in the NFL. What he has done in his first 4 years in Buffalo has been remarkable. He and DC Leslie Frazier put out a strong defense year after year and OC Brian Daboll is one of the best play-callers in all of football.

Personnel: The 2021 Bills offense is not the fire breathing dragon it was in 2020 but it is still an extremely talented unit. Josh Allen is still a very good QB, Stefon Diggs is still one of the 5 best WRs in football and Emmanuel Sanders, Dawson Knox, and Gabe Davis make it one of the best skill groups in the league.

The Bills defense has been one of the best in the league this year. Tre White, Levi Wallace,Micah Hyde, and Jordan Poyer are the best secondary in the NFL. Matt Milano remains one of the most underrated players in the league at LB and the Bills have a lot of depth along their Dline.

Potential Weaknesses: the Bills offensive line, especially the interior, is not good. It’s a position GM Brandon Beane has ignored and it’s starting to hurt the Bills. In all 3 of their losses this season their OL woes have been their demise.

Matchup: it’s very hard to project what is going to happen with the Jets defense week to week. On the road their DL rarely shows up and they look like the worst defense in the league. The DL has been much better at MetLife and I think that’s going to continue on Sunday and the Jets defense keeps the Bills offense in check. I think it’s going to be a rough day for the Jets offense against this well-disciplined defense.

Prediction: Bills 23 Jets 9 Mike White was fun, and I think he’s a very capable back-up QB going forward and would like him on the Jets in 2022 and beyond. There are levels to this game though, and I think we see that today and Zach Wilson is back under center next week in Miami.

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TOJ Roundtable: Which AFC East Player Would You Want On The New York Jets?

In this installment of the TOJ weekly roundtable, the TOJ writers consider the question: which player from another AFC East team would you add to the Jets? For this exercise QBs were not included because Josh Allen would be the obvious answer (for some, but not DA).

 

James Kuntz: If I could add any AFC East player to the Jets to make them a playoff team in 2021, I would add Patriots Offensive Tackle Michael Onwenu. A 2020 6th round pick, Onwenu greatly outperformed his draft selection last season and was as good as any rookie offensive lineman not named Tristan Wirfs. Pairing Onwenu with Mekhi Becton would create one of the most intimidating offensive tackle duos in the NFL.

Stephen Zantz: James going offensive line shows he’s wise beyond his years, but the Jets are in desperate need of cornerback help. If I could steal away any player in the AFC East, the no-brainer to me would be Xavien Howard. Howard is a top 5 lockdown corner in the NFL. He would be the closest thing to Darrelle Revis this franchise has seen since his initial 2013 departure. Adding Howard would allow Bryce Hall to slot into the #2 CB role where he is better suited due to his lack of experience. This would be a game changer for the Jets.

Dylan Price: Zantz, you beautiful man! I couldn’t agree more: the Jets have lacked a dominant number one corner since the Revis Island days. Adding Howard would give the Jets a legitimate ballhawk at corner. Howard put up 10 INTs last season and opposing passers had a 51.5 completion percentage against him. Howard would not only be a massive addition to the secondary, immediately slotting in as CB1, but he would also transform the entire defense. He’d open things up for the young guys to rotate, allow more time for the pass rush to develop and force turnovers, all elevating the Jets defensive standard of play, potentially to a playoff level. 

Michael Meegan:  I too went with a corner, but not the one TOJ Live’s standard-bearer and the author of Dylan’s Dimes Presented by DraftSZN chose. The AFC East is a very talented division with many choices but I decided to opt for who I believe is the 3rd best corner in the NFL: Tre’Davious White of the Buffalo Bills. Technically sound in every area and scheme versatile, White is everything you want in a modern-day NFL corner. He instantly gives a boost to the Jets current corner room, which is probably the worst in the NFL as we speak. With White, you could feasibly overcome the loss of Car Lawson and have a defense that’s in the top half of the league. 

Will Parkinson: All defense and not a single offensive skill player? That sounds like All Gas, No Takes from my colleagues. This may come as a surprise to some people but I think a player that would help the Jets improve in a major way is Jonnu Smith of the New England Patriots. Smith was a guy that was heavily linked to the Jets this offseason: the way the Jets’ tight end room looks right now, Smith would add another dynamic to this offense that would make them very dangerous. Smith is bound for a big year with the Patriots and a Jets offense with Moore, Davis, Carter, Johnson, Smith, Mims, and Crowder coupled with the way Zach Wilson looks early this preseason, the Jets would have an even more enticing offense to watch in 2021.

Joe Belic: I love Will’s choice, and think corner is absolutely a sound choice, but James’s choice proves he’s the second wisest ut of all of us despite his age. I believe the Jets are more than a player away from becoming a playoff team, but adding another OL to the unit could potentially push them into the mix for that coveted 7th spot. Shaq Mason would be a huge upgrade over Greg Van Roten and help solidify an OL that will need to get this rush game going if they expect to have any chance at the postseason. While I love what I’ve seen from Zach Wilson so far, they’ll need to establish the run to help take the burden off his shoulders and open up the play-action game and this outside zone boot-style offense. 

 

 

Prepare For Takeoff with Paulie Bruzzese – Week 1: The Buffalo Bills w/Mike Lindsley

This week Paulie is joined for some in-depth Buffalo Bills analysis by Central New York based radio personality and host of the ML Sports Platter podcast Mike Lindsley!

“Play Like A Jet” presents week #1 of “Prepare for Takeoff with Paulie Bruzzese. This week Paulie is joined for some in-depth Buffalo Bills analysis by Central New York based radio personality and host of the ML Sports Platter podcast Mike Lindsley!

Paulie and Mike take a deep dive into the individual statistics and key questions perrtaining to the Bills including:

-What has Josh Allen looked like this summer and what should we be expecting to see from him in week 1?

-The stunning release of RB Shady McCoy and how it will impact Buffalo’s rushing attack against the Jets

-Players and factors that will be key to the Bills’ chances for victory at Metlife Stadium this week including an under the radar Bills player that Jets fans should be aware of

-Predictions for how the game will go and what the end result and final score will be

Learn EVERYTHING you need to now about the Bills before this pivotal week 10 battle!

Play Like A Jet presents Prepare For Takeoff is part of the Turn On The Jets Digital Podcast network……….

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Know Your Foe Preview: Scouting the Buffalo Bills’ Offseason

I am very excited to announce that coming this regular season, I will be hosting a weekly podcast centered around the dissection of the Jets’ opponent each week; featuring guests from the opposing perspective, in-depth looks into opposing teams’ strengths and weaknesses on film, compelling statistical nuggets, matchups to watch out for, and plenty more! To preview the show, each week leading up to the season I’ll recap the offseason of one of the Jets’ opponents; this week, we look at the rival Buffalo Bills.

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Author: Michael Nania

You can follow me on Twitter @Michael_Nania. I'll be hosting the weekly Jets opponent preview podcast, Know Your Foe, starting with the 2018 regular season. I've been writing for Turn On The Jets since January 2018, and you can also check out more of my work on the Jets over at Gang Green Nation.

NFL Draft 2018 – AFC East Draft Grades & Analysis

The 2018 NFL Draft has come to an end. The Jets found their franchise quarterback; but how did the rest of the AFC East fare? Daniel Mosher breaks down the division.

With the 2018 NFL Draft in the books, Daniel Mosher breaks down how the weekend’s selections will impact the AFC East. 

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Know Your Opponent: Week 2 at Buffalo Bills

Matthew Stalker breaks down the New York Jets week 2 opponent, the Buffalo Bills

After a tough loss in Week 1 to the Bengals, the New York Jets will travel to Buffalo for their Week 2 match-up where they will face the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night. Let’s get to know the Jets’ opponent for Week 2…

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Initial Reaction – New York Jets Stuff Stat Sheet, Move To 2-1

Initial Reaction to the New York Jets 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills

If you have been watching the New York Jets for a prolonged period of time, you know certain statistical days rarely happen. 300 yard passers. 100 yard receivers. 100 yard rushers. 5+ sacks in a single game…these things just don’t happen all that often. 20 penalties? Now that sounds a little more believable.

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New York Jets Know Your Opponent (Week 3 – Buffalo)

Staff Writer Dalbin Osorio overviews the New York Jets Week 3 opponent, the Buffalo Bills, in this week’s version of TOJ’s Know Your Opponent.

Off a heartbreaking loss to the vulnerable New England Patriots on Thursday night, the New York Jets have had 10 days to prepare for Doug Marrone and the Buffalo Bills. The story-lines are a-plenty: for sociological purposes, this will be the 2nd time in Bills history that two African American quarterbacks face off against each other. From a coaching standpoint, Rex Ryan gets to have his offense go against his protege’s defense, as Mike Pettine returns to the scene of some of his most famous leaks (no pun intended.) And, from a strictly football standpoint, both teams are 1-1 and looking to notch their first win in the division. Let’s get to know the opponent the Jets will be facing this Sunday.

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New York Jets Defensive Film Breakdown: Week 1

Chris Gross breaks down the New York Jets defensive film against the Buffalo Bills

To complement our new series of offensive film breakdown from Joe Caporoso each week, this column will provide a similar insight into each week’s game from the other side of the ball. Each position will be evaluated, with a primary focus on the defensive line. For this week, let’s take a look at what the eye in the sky told us about the Jets’ week 1 defensive performance against Buffalo,and what needs to be improved upon heading into the coming weeks.

The New York Jets defensive play this past Sunday was, for the most part, a very impressive, and dominating performance. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted three times, once returned for a touchdown, all within the first 3 quarters of play. While there is certainly an abundance of reasons to be excited about the way the Jets played, defensively,there is still room for a vast amount of improvement. The ceiling for this defense is limitless, but in order to reach its’ full potential, improvements need to be made all across the board, particularly up front.

First, let’s look at each part of the defense, and evaluate based on position group. Since this series will have a primary focus on the defensive line, each player who received playing time will be evaluated individually,while the remaining defensive groups will be evaluated as a whole. We will then look at some of Buffalo’s most positive offensive plays and break down exactly what went wrong.

Defensive Line:

Muhammed Wilkerson – After a full film evaluation, there is little doubt that Buffalo game planned around the second year pro out of Temple. Wilkerson was accounted for on every single play, as he was double teamed on the majority of run plays, while the protection on passing plays was shifted to him, nearly 100% of the time. With Sione Pouha out, Buffalo recognized Wilkerson as the Jets best defensive lineman, and drew up a nice protection scheme to keep him in check, which is why he had a relatively quiet day. However, in the small sample of plays that Wilkerson saw one on one protection, he was a clear mismatch to whoever was attempting to block him, whether it was a tight end or tackle.

One particular flaw that Wilkerson displayed, however, was a tendency to peak his head inside when he was lined up outside of the tackle or tight end as the edge player. He needs to trust that his teammates will execute their assignments properly, and worry about his job on each particular play. Nothing too negative came out of this during Sunday’s game, but teams could take notice of this and attack the outside on Wilkerson, which would become a problem if this tendency persists. Still, it is obvious that Wilkerson is beginning to command respect from opposing offensive lines. The return of Pouha will likely lead to more double teams on him, and less on Wilkerson, allowing the talented defensive end to make more plays.

Quinton Coples – Coples looked very much like a rookie in his NFL debut. He did some things great, while making some mistakes that are a clear sign of inexperience. The best play he made all game was his tackle for loss on Bills running back CJ Spiller in the 2nd Quarter. Coples was lined up as a 5 technique on the outside shade of the tackle, who down blocked in an effort to get to the second level on Linebacker David Harris. Not only was Coples quick enough in his steps and reaction time to prevent the Tight End from getting down on him, but he chipped the tackle’s shoulder just enough to prevent him from getting to Harris, allowing the linebacker to go unblocked. Even if Coples had missed the tackle in the backfield, Harris was waiting right behind him to make the play, a direct result of excellent hand work by Coples. This play in particular was a textbook defense of the down block.

While this was certainly an excellent display of instinct and technique by the Jets first round draft pick, there are still a number of things he showed he needs work on if he ever wants to achieve his full potential. One aspect, in particular, is his ability to take on the double team. Coples was repeatedly lined up on the interior, either as a 3 technique on the outside shade of the guard, or as a 5 technique, with a tight end to his side. He faced a great amount of double teams when he was lined up in these positions, and did not necessarily fare too well. He needs to realize, that if he is going to be shifted all around the line, he is certainly going to see a great number of these schemes on the interior, so he needs to do a better job of expecting and preparing for it.

While Coples is superbly talented in terms of athleticism and strength, he does tend to get locked up with his blockers at times. He too often took on the entire man this past Sunday, rather than working a shade and attacking half the man. Regardless of who you are or how strong you may be, it is nearly impossible to go directly through a 300 lb man, especially in the NFL, where the game speed is at an all time high. If he can work these kinks out, Coples’ natural abilities will allow him to develop nicely.

Calvin Pace – Pace was easily the most technically sound player in the front seven this past week. He was the veteran of the bunch, and it certainly showed through flawless foot and hand work, as well as an overall instinct and feel for the game. No one on the team showed the ability to set the edge better, and Pace actually displayed the greatest arsenal of pass rush moves as well. The problem is, he is just a step too slow at this point in his career to capitalize on his excellent technique and record multiple sacks, otherwise his annual sack total would be much higher than what it has been over the past couple of seasons.

Kenrick Ellis – Ellis played very well filling in for an injured Sione Pouha. He proved to be a very immovable force as both a two gap and one gap assignment player, as he was constantly in the backfield, and could not be driven off the ball, even when double teamed. Ellis also displayed excellent lateral quickness for a player his size, something that is vital to the position he plays. When Pouha returns, the Jets are going to have a very good rotation at the Nose Tackle position.

Mike DeVito – DeVito played how anyone who has watched the Jets for the past few seasons would expect him to play. He is extremely tough and smart, and he works very hard, while hardly ever making mental mistakes. DeVito, like Ellis, could not be moved off of the ball on run plays this past week. Although he did not split double teams and gain penetration like Ellis, he did a very good job of occupying two blockers and not allowing either of them to get to the linebackers on the second level.

Marcus Dixon – Dixon did not play particularly well this past week, which could just be a sign of rust since we was just recently resigned to the team following his release at the end of the preseason. Dixon did not show any type of explosion on Sunday, and struggled mightily against the double team. Many times, particularly on some of the big runs by Buffalo, Dixon would end up 8-10 yards down the field. This cannot happen on the defensive line, and if he wants to continue to get reps, Dixon is going to have to play like he has in the past, not like he did on Sunday.

Aaron Maybin – Maybin generally played how one would have expected him to play. He is extremely fast off the ball, and relentless in his pursuit, however his lack of body control caused him to get bumped around and knocked off balance too often. Maybin can be a very effective pass rusher, as we saw last year, however if he does not get his body under control, he is going to remain as a guy who will get 4-6 sporadic sacks per seasons, rather than the 10-12 that he has the potential for.

Linebackers – David Harris played as well as he normally does. He was very disciplined and seemed to have a great feel for what was coming from Buffalo on every play. A few times, he was hindered by a defensive lineman getting blocked into him, which blocked his line of vision, thus preventing him from making a play. Harris generally did a good job of shedding his blocks, but did allow the offensive lineman to get into him a few times,before he could get separation with his hands, obviously something that he needs to be more consistent with. Still, Harris was very effective, and remains one of the best players on the defense.

Bart Scott was very up and down. He certainly brought the tenacity of the Bart Scott of old that Jets fans have grown accustomed to. However, on several plays, he was a step too slow in his run angles and pursuit, which allowed the guard or tackle to get just enough of him to prevent him from making a play, which further allowed the running back to spring into the second level. Although, on other plays, Scott did beat the lineman across his face, taking him right to the play. His play was certainly decent, but needs to improve.

Secondary – The corners played the best out of any unit on the defense, as displayed by the interceptions obtained by Darrelle Revis, Kyle Wilson, and Antonio Cromartie.

The Safeties played excellent against the run. Both LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell were extremely fast to come up and fill on run plays, the primary reason as to why they were involved in so many tackles. They still need to gel in coverage a bit, however. Landry did a great job of engaging the tight end on several plays, but would more often than not allow him to get a step ahead, which is why there were some plays of Scott Chandler reeling in a catchand being tackled immediately. Of the two, Landry saw much more time in the box, while Bell occupied more of a true free safety role. Once the coverage timing gets down between the two of these new additions, the Jets secondary could strike vast fear into opposing offensive coordinators and quarterbacks.

The Big Plays Allowed – The two biggest red flags from Sunday clearly came from CJ Spiller’s two runs of 40+ yards. These plays were caused by a number of things including missed assignments, mental breakdowns, and some defensive lineman just getting flat out beat. On Spiller’s first long touchdown run of 56 yards, the defensive line in the game consisted of Dixon, DeVito, and Coles. Dixon was double teamed and blown nearly ten yards off the ball, while DeVito,who was lined up at NT on the play, got blocked into David Harris’s line of sight, which caused the linebacker to vacate his gap in an attempt to regain his vision and make a play. Spiller did a great job of recognizing this as he hit the gap where Harris was supposed to be for a clear path to the end zone.

On the second of Spiller’s two long runs, there was seemingly a bad communication error. Buffalo ran a counter type play, with the back side guard pulling to kick out Garrett McIntyre, who was lined up at defensive end. McIntyre executed a spill technique, meaning he attacked the pulling guard’s inside shoulder with his outside shoulder, in an attempt to jam anything in the middle,and force the back to the outside. Normally, this technique is used in a cover 2 scheme, where the cornerback would remain in the flats, thus accounting for any leakage on the outside caused by a spill, or in defense where a linebacker is responsible for outside contain. Unfortunately for McIntyre, neither of the two were out there, so once Spiller hit the outside, he was alone with plenty of daylight ahead.

On the same play, Kenrick Ellis got excellent penetration in the backfield, but was tackled to the ground by the guard just before making the play, a call missed by the referee that was standing right there. Marcus Dixon was again doubled teamed, struggling mightily.

Overall this was a very solid effort by the defense. Outside of a few week 1 mistakes in technique and assignment, this unit put together a very impressive performance. Sione Pouha’s return will certainly help, as it will allow for a solid two man rotation at the nose, as well as freeing Mike DeVito from seeing time there, something he is clearly undersized to do. There is a lot to work on for the Jets defense as the season progresses, but there is also much to be excited about.