Jets at Falcons: In-depth analysis - Defense

We're breaking down every player's performance in the s second preseason game against the Falcons. We broke down the offense earlier today.

Let's review the defensive performances in depth:

Defensive Line - The Mighty Quinnen

The Jets did a good job against the run and the pass rush was outstanding, but their pass coverage left a lot to be desired. They did a solid job upfront throughout though even though Leonard Williams hasn't played yet in preseason.

Foley Fatukasi earned the start this week and you could see the difference as he was driven off the line early, then overran a potential tackle in the open field and jumped offside. Against the second unit, he was in on two run stuffs, shedding his block to make the play on one.

Steve McLendon saw action for the first time in preseason, but he was only in for a handful of snaps. His best play came as he dropped into coverage on a dropped pass.

Henry Anderson started at defensive end again. He had a quarterback hit on a great bull rush and helped bottle up a few runs in an active performance.

Quinnen Williams made a nice impact as he twice overpowered the left guard to generate pressure, including on this play:


Williams wasn't credited with a tackle, but got good penetration on one running play and also drew a holding penalty for the second week in a row. He was driven off the line by a double-team once though.

Nathan Shepherd had a quiet game off the bench, as he didn't generated any statistics. He got into the backfield a few times, but was redirected when he did and got driven off the line by a double team on one play.

Rookie Kyle Phillips, who played both as an end and a tackle, had a more effective game than Shepherd as he had three tackles - including a stop near the line and a tackle for loss - and a fumble recovery. He also generated some good pressure, although he was driven off the line once.

The two other rookies - Trevon Sanders and MyQuon Stout - once again saw action. They combined to bottle up one run and Sanders had one other run stuff and also was credited with a fumble recovery, although he then fumbled the ball away. Sanders was driven off the line once, while Stout was kicked out on one run.

Edges - The Monster Bash

The Jets' pass rush was outstanding, generating an impressive 14 quarterback hits, including five sacks.

Interestingly, only one player was credited with more than one hit, as Tarell Basham had three, all of which came while the Falcons' starters were still in. On one play, Basham hurdled over the running back to hit Ryan but, perhaps more impressively, he took on a double team collapse the pocket off the edge here:


Having otherwise not played in the second half, Basham also saw some reps against the run at the end of the game where he set the edge well on one play and made a fourth down tackle in the backfield.

The other standout was Bronson Kaufusi, who once again got the start at defensive end but saw action in all four quarters. Kaufusi had three tackles, including a strip sack, and batted down two passes at the line.

He also came unblocked for a couple of other pressures, but was controlled at the point of attack a couple of times. He did help blow up one run with penetration though.

There was some speculation after the game that Brandon Copeland might be on the bubble because he played into the fourth quarter but the same thing was true for Kaufusi, Basham and Frankie Luvu. It probably just had more to do with the fact that the third unit was undermanned on the edge with Harvey Langi and rookie Justin Alexandre not playing.

Copeland, who worked primarily with the second unit, had a good sack off the edge and added a pressure and a run stuff.

Luvu, who saw some action as an off-ball linebacker, had a quarterback hit on a stunt and was in on a run stop. However, he also jumped offside once.

Is there room for Copeland, Luvu, Basham and Kaufusi on the 53-man roster, along with Jordan Jenkins even if everyone remains healthy? If there is, that will change if the Jets seek an upgrade though. For now, it looks like they have some nice depth.

Jenkins, who was the only edge not to play into the fourth quarter, worked exclusively with the starters. He had a quarterback hit on a bull rush and registered a tackle for loss in clean-up.

Rookie Jachai Polite should also be on the roster, but it doesn't really look like he's ready to contribute yet. He was blown off the line by a double team on the Falcons' touchdown and the only time he got close to registering a pressure was on a play where he was unblocked.

There were a couple of positives from Polite this week though. He made a good read on a screen pass to drop off into position to blow it up. The pass was dropped anyway. He also made a nice play against the run, showing quickness to slip past the tight end on the inside to make the stop near the line. However, he would try the same move shortly afterwards and it led to him getting sealed inside while the run went off the edge.

Finally, Jamey Mosley also got some reps on the edge and off the ball but apparently suffered a knee injury - further necessitating all those potential contributors playing deep into the fourth quarter. Mosley had an unblocked quarterback hit on a play action roll-out where he wasn't fooled.

Linebackers - Burgess King

The most important storylines from the linebackers in this game were our first extended look at CJ Mosley and concern over Avery Williamson departing with a knee injury.

Mosley was only officially credited with two tackles, but was constantly around the ball. For example, on one play, he came up to meet the runner in the hole, forcing the runner to unsuccessfully try to cut back. One of his tackles came on a short third down pass to force a punt and his only negative was a missed tackle in the backfield.

Williamson's injury is worrisome, but he also had some mistakes despite recording four tackles including a sack. He was called for defensive holding on one play, appeared to blow a coverage by leaving the back uncovered out of the backfield for a big gain and got beaten for what would have been a touchdown had the pass not been dropped.

Neville Hewitt, who with Blake Cashman also currently injured, would probably be Williamson's replacement if he missed any time, had five tackles, including a run stop, and a quarterback hit. He also drew a holding penalty on a blitz. He was blocked out at the second level on the Falcons touchdown though.

James Burgess might be in the mix for a coverage linebacker role if Cashman remains on the shelf and he made a case for himself with a pick-six to ice the game. Prior to that, he had run deep to break up a downfield pass, although he didn't get his head turned around and it basically just hit him in the back as he tried to recover. That survived a replay review though.

Despite these plays, Burgess also had a few mistakes, giving up two first downs in coverage and filling the wrong gap on a running play that led to a long run. He was in on two stops near the line and had one pressure though.

Anthony Wint also saw action, recording three tackles. His fumble recovery and 26-yard return set up the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter and then he later would add a strip sack to force another turnover. He took a bad angle on one running play though.

Defensive Backs - Wild Thing Tevaughn

With Trumaine Johnson and Kyron Brown injured since last week's game and Blessuan Austin still inactive, this was another test for the Jets' oft-criticized cornerback depth. Once again, there were issues, as Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub combined to complete 18 of 24 passes for 194 yards in the first half. However, the coverage was better after half time, with Matt Simms completing less than 50 percent of his passes.

With the first unit, Darryl Roberts and Brian Poole both held up quite well. Roberts wasn't targeted for the second game in a row, although he did make a play against the run. Poole gave up a short catch and a third down conversion, although the latter was negated by a hold.

The other starter was Arthur Maulet but he struggled, giving up a handful of catches including a big gain on a crosser, a third down conversion and another first down on the outside.

With the second unit, Maulet reverted to the slot, while Parry Nickerson played exclusively on the outside. Nickerson got beaten for a couple of first downs and was called for a hold on one of them. He made a good open field tackle on a screen pass though.

While Maulet and Nickerson didn't really help their cause much, a couple of the other cornerbacks had some good moments.

Through two games, Tevaughn Campbell is the only defensive back with a pass defensed. In yesterday's game he had three and also led the team with six tackles. He may also have got a finger on a pass that was dropped in the end zone after Williamson got beaten. Even if he didn't, he may have distracted the receiver by diving in front of him.

Campbell is obviously a good athlete and also showed in this game that he's willing to contribute in run support. However, he needs to work at getting his head turned and locating the ball, as he was lucky on a couple of plays where he didn't manage to do that. He gave up one first down and a couple of short catches in coverage.

The other reserve to impress was Alex Brown, who had a nice hit on a third down pass and a tackle for loss on a screen pass, although the Jets opted to accept a penalty so that one didn't officially count.

Mark Myers was less impressive as he got beaten for what could have been a touchdown but the pass was overthrown. He also gave up a first down as he was late to react in zone coverage. He made a couple of good run stops though and was in on a tackle in the flat.

At safety, Jamal Adams had four tackles including a sack, although he did give up a first down in coverage. The other starter is still Rontez Miles with Marcus Maye not quite ready for action. Miles had a quiet game.

Doug Middleton showed up a couple of times with the second unit, making a touchdown saving tackle in the open field and disrupting a pass with a hit in coverage.

Brandon Bryant had some issues this week as he gave up a couple of first downs in coverage and got beaten on another would-be touchdown pass that got dropped in the end zone. He also had a blown coverage and was blocked off on a running play. His four tackles included a run stop for no gain, though.

Godwin Igwebuike showed up late against the run as he made a stop in backside pursuit and was in on a fourth down stop. He also blew up a wide receiver screen.

Having been with the second unit last week, Santos Ramirez moved back down this week. His three tackles were all at least 15 yards downfield and he was hurdled in the open field on one play.

Dee Delaney and Montrel Meander did not see any action on defense, but did play on special teams.

Don't go away because we'll have our special teams review later this afternoon.