Once you get to this stage of the season, you're looking for encouraging signs and hoping to see players do things you've never seen from them before or with greater consistency.
One such play from last week's game saw Darron Lee explode into the backfield to light up the full back, enabling his teammate to stuff a run for no gain.
The Saints have one of the better blocking backs in the league in Zach Line, though, so this was an interesting test for Lee to see if he could make a similar impact against top-level competition, especially with the Jets a man down on the defensive line with Muhammad Wilkerson in exile.
On the whole, the Jets stifled the Saints' fourth-ranked running game pretty well. However, when it came to taking on the fullback, Lee was fighting a losing battle.
Let's review some examples:
Here's a short yardage conversion where the fullback meets Lee in the hole and drives him out to create an easy conversion. He needs to either anticipate quicker so he can meet the fullback deeper into the backfield or hold his ground better when contact is made - or preferably both:
On Mark Ingram's first half touchdown, they again ran right at Lee. This time Line doesn't get him cleanly, but comfortably gets enough of him to prevent him from being able to make the stop:
On this play, Lee gets sealed off, creating a running lane as Kony Ealy gets driven off the line and Steve McLendon is sealed to the inside:
Finally, on the clinching touchdown, the Saints double-team McLendon and drive him off the line and Lee gets pancaked down to the inside. A missed tackle by Buster Skrine helps turn this into a much bigger play:
Lee had a productive first half with a team-leading six tackles, including one for a loss, but he only had one tackle after half time and was also exploited a couple of times in coverage.
However, his inability to take on the fullback effectively hurt the Jets on a number of occasions and is something he needs to focus on improving at before next season.