Jets at Falcons: In-depth analysis - Offense
The Jets got their first win of the Adam Gase era last night, forcing four fourth quarter turnovers to pull away for a 22-10 win. However, we're going to start today's analysis with a look at the offense:
Quarterbacks - The Falk is strong with this one
Sam Darnold once again marched the Jets downfield for a touchdown on their first drive and continues to look sharp, throwing on time, seeing the field well and moving around to avoid pressure.
He got two more series after that, on which the only first down the team got was on an illegal contact penalty. However, the coaching staff has to be encouraged with how the starting offense looked, especially with four of the five starting offensive linemen not playing.
Darnold went 5-of-7 with his only misses being a wide pass after he escaped pressure and a tight window throw that was broken up. He hit two downfield passes, on a crosser to Quincy Enunwa and a back shoulder throw to Robby Anderson, and then had a clutch third down conversion on a quick slant to Anderson to set up the opening touchdown.
Once Darnold departed early in the second quarter, the offense stalled over the next two periods, as Trevor Siemian and Davis Webb went just 4-for-9 for 20 yards between them.
In each case, their most successful play was a pass interference call as the Jets had just four first downs in the middle two periods. The others were on a running play on Siemian's first snap and a third down scramble that saw Webb bounce off a tackle to pick up 13.
Things improved once fourth-stringer Luke Falk got into the action against Atlanta's third-stringers as he went 4-for-4 for 41 yards. After initially seeing a short touchdown pass wiped out by a penalty, Falk connected with Deontay Burnett underneath for the go-ahead touchdown with 11:44 remaining.
Webb looks out of his depth at this level, but maybe if Falk plays against second-stringers and Webb gets to play with third-stringers that would account for the difference. The Jets should experiment with that over the last two games and if Falk still outplays him, then Webb should be released.
Of course, the Jets will probably only carry two quarterbacks anyway, although they might retain a third on the practice squad. If Siemian continues to underwhelm, maybe Falk could come for his job too, though.
Running Backs - Montgomery Burns
Whether or not Le'Veon Bell will play in preseason has already become this year's most soul-crushingly repetitive non-story. Still, while the media continued to play "Where's Poochie?" with Bell, reserve Ty Montgomery was looking really good.
Montgomery had 36 yards on five carries, bouncing to the outside for the one-yard touchdown that capped the first drive. Earlier, he had an impressive 14-yard run where he bounced off a tackle at the second level and kept his legs driving to finish the run strong and pick up several extra yards.
Off the bench, Bilal Powell's first action of the season saw him display good vision to find an open lane off tackle and burst for 18 yards.
However, from that point on, the running game completely stalled. Powell, Elijah McGuire, Trenton Cannon and Valentine Holmes combined for 25 yards on 18 carries after Powell's big run with a longest gain of just five. That's perhaps not surprising with mostly third-team linemen on the field.
McGuire and Cannon did combine for 19 yards on three catches, with McGuire picking up a first down on a Falk dump-off to the flat. It's not looking likely that either will have much of an impact on offense this season, although they both had one play where they broke a tackle.
Wide Receivers - Sun King Treasure
After showcasing Jamison Crowder last week, Anderson and Enunwa got their chance to shine on Thursday night. These were the only players Darnold threw a pass to, as Enunwa caught two on four targets and Anderson caught all three of his targets.
For Anderson, it was the first evidence of his broadening skill-set, as he broke down for a 21-yard catch on a back shoulder throw and held onto a tough third down conversion in traffic. While it's not really the first time we've seen him do these things, it's good to see Anderson showing what he's capable of. The more targets he gets during the regular season, the better it will be for Anderson, Darnold and Adam Gase.
Enunwa picked up an early first down on a crossing route, but his other catch saw him cut down for a loss in the flat on third and short. That was simply a tremendous play by Marcus Trufant to knife through traffic, one of several excellent open field tackles the Falcons made to limit potential nice gains.
With the offense floundering in the second and third quarter, players like Josh Bellamy, Greg Dortch and Tim White didn't get much of a chance to do anything. Bellamy was the only one of the three to be targeted, gaining just two yards on his lone reception. Dortch and White haven't really displayed much of an ability to get open yet, although they continue to compete for a roster spot via the return specialist route.
Deontay Burnett's day didn't get off to a great start, as he initially looked to have made a short catch over by the sideline but then failed to hang onto the ball as he went to ground. He bounced back once Falk entered the game, catching a quick slant down to the two-yard line and then taking a short pass into the end zone for what would prove to be the winning touchdown a few plays later.
While he only had one catch, for an eight yard gain on 3rd-and-13, Deonte Thompson did draw two pass interference penalties on downfield throws. Those two plays generated 47 yards.
Charone Peake and JJ Jones saw brief action late, but neither was targeted. Rookie Jeff Smith once again did not play.
Tight Ends - Go Wesco, young man
The tight ends weren't a major part of the offensive gameplan this week, as Daniel Brown was the only one to catch a pass for an eight-yard gain on second and long. Brown was unsuccessfully targeted one other time and the only other tight end to be targeted was Ryan Griffin on a play where Sam Darnold had to get rid of it quickly and Griffin didn't appear to be expecting it.
Brown also had a key penalty to negate rookie Trevon Wesco's fourth quarter touchdown catch. He was called for offensive pass interference after failing to adequately disguise his disruption of a linebacker in coverage. This seemed like a bit of a harsh call and Wesco, who had lined up at fullback on the play, likely would've been open anyway.
Falk lofted the pass to Wesco as he leaked into the flat and he went up to get it and held on as a defensive back came over. It's the first sign Wesco has showed in preseason, but otherwise, they aren't using him much. He was in on less than 10 snaps and it would be nice to see more from the rookie.
Griffin and Brown each had a play where they badly missed a block, as Eric Tomlinson continues to be the best blocker they have at the position. He drove his man out of the play on one run, although it only went for a short gain.
The starter, Chris Herndon, wasn't targeted and let his man get off his block for one run stop. He also almost allowed his man to get to Darnold in pass protection. He made a good block on Montgomery's touchdown run though:
All-in-all, what we've seen so far from this position is not too encouraging with Herndon due to miss the first four games. However, perhaps the fact that the first team offense was able to score without him contributing in the passing game is a good sign.
Offensive Linemen - Chuma has it
Kelvin Beachum was the only offensive line starter to play last night, as Brandon Shell apparently injured his knee in warm-ups and the interior line - Kelechi Osemele (pec), Brian Winters (shoulder) and Ryan Kalil (conditioning) - remain sidelined. You can probably expect Kalil to start practicing with the ones this week.
Under those conditions, it's impressive that the first-team offense was able to function at all, although Darnold did have some pressure to deal with.
Beachum had a couple of good run blocks, but gave up a pressure on an inside move and was called for an illegal hands to the face penalty.
The interior line had mixed results. Jonotthan Harrison allowed pressure on a stunt, but made a couple of good run blocks, including one on the Montgomery touchdown run. Tom Compton was much better than last week, with a good run block on one play. However, he allowed his man to pressure Darnold after getting beaten on a spin move. The newest lineman, Alex Lewis stood out with some good run blocking, although he also got beaten for a pressure in pass protection.
Rookie Chuma Edoga got his first start at right tackle, where he stayed to work with the second unit. He had a few good run blocks, although he needs to focus more on playing to the whistle as he sometimes can have a tendency to assume his job is done after initially making a good block. Allowing his man to get off the block late in the play is something he can't afford to do, especially if he gets a chance to block for Bell.
Edoga had a few tough moments as Vic Beasley beat him handily for a sack and a fourth down run got blown up because he let his man into the backfield.
He also gave up a pressure and some more penetration in the running game.
Hopefully Shell's injury won't keep him sidelined because Edoga has got plenty to learn and it could be problematic if he has to do so on the job. You wonder if someone like Lewis or Compton would get the start if Shell misses a regular season game.
On the second unit, Ben Braden fared much better than last week with a couple of good run blocks, although he allowed his man to shed his block to stuff two runs. At center, Jon Toth had one play where he badly whiffed on his block at the point of attack to let his man blow up a play.
The second team left tackle, Eric Smith, was called for a penalty, gave up a third down pressure and was driven back into the path of the runner on one play. He had a good block at the second level on Powell's nice run though.
Guard Jordan Morgan was the other player to get reps with the second unit. He played right guard with that group and then moved to the left side to play with the threes. He gave up a couple of pressures, including one that led to a fourth down incompletion. He had a couple of good run blocks but whiffed badly on a pulling block.
Ryan Anderson, Wyatt Miller and Calvin Anderson got third unit reps with Morgan and Braden at the guard positions. The two Andersons both got stood up on a running play that was blown up with Calvin also getting called for a hold. Miller allowed a pressure that flushed the quarterback from the pocket but did a good job on one running play.
In addition to the starters who did not play, the injured Brent Qvale also remains sidelined.
Don't go away, because we'll have our defensive review for you later this morning!