The defensive performance was obviously really good, with just three points allowed, eight sacks and two turnovers, but the Jets did allow 136 rushing yards and let the Titans get behind them a couple of times in the passing game, so it wasn't perfect.
There was plenty of encouraging performances though...
Defensive Line - Pelon again. (Naturally)
The starters didn't get many reps but there was still time for Leonard Williams to make some noise with a sack:
As we've been anticipating the Jets did operate out of a more conventional 3-4 base, essentially using Muhammad Wilkerson and Steve McLendon inside with Williams on running downs and Sheldon Richardson inside with him on passing downs.
Wilkerson chased the quarterback from the pocket on the first play and had an effective bull rush on his other pass rush attempt. However, he was sealed off as he tried to shoot the gap in the running game. McLendon was also sealed off on one run.
Richardson looked good, collapsing the pocket for a pressure on one play and aggressively fighting off a double-team in the running game.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Jets dominant defensive performance was that it came primarily with their starting linemen on the bench. Leading the charge were Claude Pelon and Anthony Johnson.
I'll be writing in more detail about Pelon, who stuffed three runs and batted down a pass, later today. Johnson had a strip sack and a couple of quarterback hits, showing off a good inside move and a rip. He did miss a tackle though.
There's quite a battle going on for roster spots here because Lawrence Thomas - an opening day starter - was a little quieter, but did bottle up a run against a double team and drew a hold at the point of attack.
Another youngster, Patrick Gamble, entered the game in the first half and immediately got driven off the line, but fared a lot better in the second half, as he was credited with a sack and drove the left guard back impressively on the play where Johnson had his strip-sack:
A couple of veterans also looking to make the team are Mike Pennel and Devon Still. Both had their moments; Still with a sack and a pressure and Pennel on a bull rush for a pressure and at the point of attack. However, they were both manhandled on the biggest run of the day:
Deon Simon is ahead of Pennel as the second nose tackle for the time being and did his best to stay there by being stout at the point of attack and stuffing one run. He drove his man back well on one bull-rush too.
Recently-signed rookie Jeremy Faulk also got reps at the nose. He had a sack on his first snap, but only because he had misjudged the snap count and jumped offsides. He is obviously very raw, but did draw a hold on one play.
Linebackers - And you get a sack, and you get a sack, and...
The Jets ultimately ended up with eight sacks from eight different players. Apparently that's the most sacks in any game for the Jets since 1983. However, their outside linebackers didn't really combine to create a great deal of pressure.
Jordan Jenkins and Josh Martin did each record a sack, on each occasion grabbing the quarterback up-high and pulling them down by the shoulder pads.
Jenkins also bottled up a run, made a tackle out in the flat and forced the quarterback to step up. Martin had a productive day too, recovering a fumble, getting in on a handful of stops at, near or behind the line and recording a hit on a stunt. However, he was badly fooled on an end around play.
With rookie Dylan Donahue resting an injured shoulder and Frank Beltre dealing with a groin injury, Freddie Bishop got the start and didn't generate any clean pressure but got unblocked into the backfield once and squeezed the pocket to flush the quarterback on another play. Bishop also made an open field tackle to force a punt.
Corey Lemonier also made a case for himself by stunting to create the pressure that led to Gamble's clean-up sack. However, he also got upfield well on an outside run and made a nice hit in the hole on a run stuff.
On the inside, Darron Lee and Demario Davis looked pretty good together. Davis dropped into coverage to make a solid stop on a dump-off pass and Lee made an encouraging stop against the run, stopping the runner in his tracks. Lee was blocked out of a couple of early plays, but drew a flag to negate a first down when he was picked in coverage.
The reserves also ran around making a lot of plays. Bruce Carter and Julian Stanford each came unblocked for a sack - although on Carter's he missed the tackle and then had to get up to chase the quarterback down. Carter also made a good play in coverage and stuffed a run. Stanford added a tackle for loss and a good play in coverage. Perhaps his only mistake was when he vacated his area in coverage to open up a passing lane for a third down conversion.
Spencer Paysinger also had a tackle for loss, but was caught up in traffic on one run and blocked out downfield on a big quarterback scramble.
Finally, rookie Connor Harris may have overrun one play, but stuffed one run and made a good tackle in the flat on a short pass.
Defensive Backs - The Joy of Dex
With all the eagerness to see Morris Claiborne, Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams in action, none of them really did anything of significance as they combined for one tackle and were not targeted in coverage. Maye assisted on one run stop and was perhaps late getting over in zone coverage on one pass.
Buster Skrine was the other starter and Juston Burris the number three as has been the case throughout camp. Each gave up a first down with Skrine too far off in man coverage and Burris out of position in zone coverage. Skrine was in on a stop against the run and broke up a pass, although he perhaps should have intercepted it. Burris' best play saw him hold his ground well on a receiver screen to contain it on the outside.
Although Rontez Miles has lost weight to potentially enable him to cover more range in a deep role, but he actually still saw a lot of work in the box where he had a missed tackle in an otherwise quiet game.
Right now, Marcus Williams and Darryl Roberts are competing to be the fourth cornerback and each saw first half action. Williams got beaten for one first down and had a missed tackle, but did force a punt with a tackle in the flat. Roberts got burned deep and gave up a first down on a slant, but had a really nice diving pass break-up.
He may be stuck on the third unit, but Dexter McDougle somehow found himself in the thick of the action in the second half, holding up well as he was targeted multiple times, including on three third downs. He gave up just one catch for four yards on six targets, breaking up two of them. McDougle did have a missed tackle, but also seemed to bite on a fake receiver screen on the play where Ronald Martin rescued him with a one-handed interception:
Aside from his interception, Martin had an up and down day. He made a good tackle in the flat and had a quarterback hit on a blitz and another good coverage play. However, he had one of the worst plays of the game when he came up too fast on Akeem Judd's long run and missed the tackle. The Jets have made it clear that not giving up big plays is a priority, so mistakes like that will hurt his chances.
That might be an issue for Doug Middleton too (although he apparently has a pectoral injury that may put paid to his chances anyway). Middleton played quite well, with two pass break-ups, but on the deep ball completed against Roberts, he stopped running assuming the runner was down only for him to get up again and score. Fortunately, he was down and the score was overturned by the replay booth, but the coaches will be drumming into him that he can't assume in that situation:
The only other players to get reps in the secondary were sixth round pick Derrick Jones and recent addition David Rivers. Rivers wasn't really tested, although he was in the area on the fourth down stop that iced the game. Jones showed some rawness, getting torched on a deep ball that was dropped and missing an open field tackle badly on a quarterback scramble. He ran stride for stride with his man on a deep ball though.
Don't go away because we'll have some special teams analysis and final thoughts this afternoon.