In-depth analysis: Falcons at Jets (Defense)

You can't get much better than an opening game shutout and the Jets also recorded three sacks and an interception, while stopping a few fourth downs. They held the Falcons under 50 yards, but weren't perfect in coverage, giving up over 200, including a few downfield passes.

Let's review who stood out:

Defensive Line - Foley Boned

The defensive line performance was headlined by the two rookies, NATHAN SHEPHERD and FOLEY FATUKASI each of whom acquitted themselves well in their first pro game.

Shepherd was in on a couple of run stuffs, flushed the quarterback from the pocket once and was only blocked out of the play a few times. Fatukasi, who - unlike Shepherd - only played against back-ups, held up well at the point of attack and did an effective job as a bull rusher. He had a late strip-sack after an earlier sack had been chalked off because he grabbed the quarterback's facemask.

The other draft day addition - veteran HENRY ANDERSON - also looked good. Again, he made a good impact as a bull rusher, driving his man back into the quarterback three times. He was more of a mixed bag against the run.

LEONARD WILLIAMS only played briefly and had a quiet game as he was constantly double-teamed, which we can expect to be a common occurrence in 2018. He was driven off the line once.

MIKE PENNEL filled in for the injured STEVE MCLENDON at nose tackle and was credited with a cheap sack as he chased the quarterback out to the sideline. He had a quarterback hit on an impressive play where he freed himself from the center with a bull jerk move.

XAVIER COOPER made a good impression off the bench, deflecting a pass at the line that was intercepted and blowing up a run with penetration.

Undrafted rookie MYCH THOMAS saw action late at the nose tackle position. He was blocked to the ground on one play and almost made a tackle in the backfield on a broken play.

Veteran KENDALL REYES also got into the game late. He was driven off the line once but was disruptive a few times as a pass rusher.

Outside Linebackers - I Will Always Luvu

As has been the case recently, BRANDON COPELAND continued to work with the starters, although he stayed in for extra work with the second unit. He penetrated well on one play and was in on a run stuff, but his only pressure came as he was unblocked on a roll-out. As a whole the Jets' pressure numbers weren't too bad, but hardly any of it came from winning match-ups or getting around the edge.

JORDAN JENKINS got off to an inauspicious start when he got put on his backside on the first snap of the game, but bounced back with a run stuff on the edge. As a pass rusher, he got pressure off the edge once and had a quarterback hit as he came free on an inside stunt.

Rookie FRANKIE LUVU showed some mild promise off the bench. He was unblocked on each of his two pressures, but did beat his man around the edge once. He made a good run stop for no gain cleaning up, but was blocked out of a couple of run plays.

JOSH MARTIN continues to be as solid as anyone else when they give him reps on the edge. He blew up a run in the backfield and drove his man back to pressure the quarterback off the edge.

OBUM GWACHAM had mixed results at the point of attack but nearly had a sack on a play where the quarterback was able to get rid of the ball as he was in the grasp.

Finally, DYLAN DONAHUE did flash with a sack, a hit, a pressure and a tackle for loss. However, this all came late in the game against third-stringers. He also got blocked to the ground once and was badly fooled on a play-action bootleg.

Inside Linebackers - Love Hewitt

The new inside linebacker duo did their job while they were in there but didn't make much of a direct impact as they combined for just two tackles. DARRON LEE was in on a third down stop and drew a penalty, while AVERY WILLIAMSON had a missed tackle but it came on a play where he made a good read and forced the running back to cut back inside where he was stopped.

Here is that play, which also features good work from Shepherd, Copeland and JAMAL ADAMS:


Off the bench, NEVILLE HEWITT was the standout, as he led the team with eight tackles, including one for a loss, and added an interception and a pass break-up. He gave up one first down in zone coverage.

KEVIN MINTER had a similar play to Williamson where he made a read and got into the backfield and although he couldn't make the play himself, that led to the runner being stopped. He also made a couple of plays in coverage. However, he was late getting over in zone coverage on a 3rd-and-long conversion.

Rookie ANTHONY WINT had a couple of good blitzes and a nice run stuff but missed a tackle and was taken out of a few plays.

KEVIN PIERRE-LOUIS remains on the injured list as he did not suit up.

Defensive Backs - Busting a Screen

The starting cornerbacks weren't really tested although TRUMAINE JOHNSON made a nice open field tackle and BUSTER SKRINE blew up a screen pass for a loss. MORRIS CLAIBORNE wasn't targeted.

At safety, Adams was in on a couple of plays, drawing one penalty and getting in on a run stuff. With MARCUS MAYE not playing, DOUG MIDDLETON started as the deep safety and was in on a third down stop.

With Skrine leaving with an injury, XAVIER COLEMAN filled in as the nickel corner and was victimized a couple of times as he gave up a third down conversion and didn't get his head turned on this pass over the top:


He had a pressure and made two good plays in coverage late, including a pass break-up though.

In the battle for the fourth cornerback spot, PARRY NICKERSON and JUSTON BURRIS were out. (We're hearing that Nickerson's hamstring issue should sideline him for about 10 days, which - assuming that includes the time he's already missed - might mean he can practice and play next week).

Of those that did play, DARRYL ROBERTS wasn't tested in coverage but was in on a third down stop just short of the marker. RASHARD ROBINSON was too far off on an 8-yard catch and had a missed tackle but made a good open field tackle in the flat. The ascending DERRICK JONES looked comfortable as he was targeted unsuccessfully a handful of times, although one was arguably a drop in front of him. The only catch he gave up went for 11 on 2nd-and-18.

The only other cornerback to see action was TERRELL SINKFIELD, who had one play where he just missed on a diving attempt to deflect a pass where the receiver was able to turn upfield for a first down. He had a couple of good tackles in the flat though.

In terms of reserves at safety, JJ WILCOX had an active game with six tackles, including two in the backfield and a forced fumble. However, he was beaten for a couple of first downs in coverage down the field.

TERRENCE BROOKS solidified his spot with a solid performance that included a third down stop in the flat. He was also in on a short yardage stop.

Finally, BRANDON BRYANT had a nice pass break-up and a solid tackle, but also gave up a first down in front of him.

Don't go away because we'll have some special teams analysis and final thoughts this afternoon.