We're going to continue today's analysis with some things you might not have noticed from yesterday's win over the Steelers:
Off the mark
At this late stage of the season, two Jets were able to record their first NFL sack. Both were hustle plays in clean-up.
First of all, Foley Fatukasi brought down Devlin Hodges in the first quarter:
Then, Kyle Phillips got Hodges down in the fourth quarter:
It's especially gratifying to see Phillips rewarded because it took him nearly 300 pass rush attempts to finally get home. Phillips did have half a sack on the season and has been close to getting credited with another half sack on at least three plays over the past two weeks.
It's ironic that Phillips finally got to the quarterback on a play where he actually dropped into coverage, but this was a great hustle play in pursuit nonetheless.
As for Fatukasi, he's done a great job this year, so it's fun to see him getting to celebrate a splash play too. Both of these players should be part of the rotation for the next few years.
One of the most interesting choices by the coaching staff was to have Conor McDermott as the starter at right guard with Tom Compton out.
McDermott had never played inside in regular season, preseason or even collegiate action, but the Jets opted to put him in ahead of Brent Qvale - who has started at guard before - and Leo Koloamatangi - who is a natural interior lineman even though he is yet to make his NFL debut.
In the early going, McDermott contributed well with three positive blocks on the Jets' opening touchdown drive. Here was one of them at the point of attack on a good play that also featured good blocks by Brandon Shell and Alex Lewis:
McDermott's potential limitation is immediately apparent. At 6'8" pad level is going to be a natural issue for him. Even as he gets into his stance you can see how much more upright he is than Lewis at left guard.
Over the rest of the game, McDermott was a lot less effective in the running game and he got beaten a few times in pass protection. Predictably, he struggled to hold up against an interior bull rush, especially on this play that led to a third down sack:
For the Jets, this was all about finding out whether McDermott is capable of filling in at guard in a pinch as well as being a possible swing tackle off the bench. Clearly he was able to prove that he can because, although we can nitpick aspects of his performance, the Jets managed to beat a good team with him in the line-up.
Ahead of Sunday's season finale, let's review what's still at play:
Sunday's game itself is meaningless because the Bills are locked into the fifth seed in the AFC. As a result, they may be more inclined to rest key players and the Jets miss out on a chance to play spoiler.
For the Jets, the main factor that will be affected by the result is their draft position, which in theory could be as high as six and as low as the middle of the first round, but in reality will probably be between eight and 13 and most likely nine or 10.
Their schedule is already set. We've known all along that the Jets will face the NFC West and AFC West, along with the teams that finish in the same position in the AFC North and AFC South. With the Jets and Browns both now locked into third place, that ensures the Jets will host Cleveland next year. It also appears that the Colts cannot overtake the Titans for second place in the AFC South so they will host the Jets.
Finally, there are some individual goals to play for:
- Sam Darnold needs 175 yards to get to 3,000 on the season;
- Le'Veon Bell needs 227 yards from scrimmage to get to 1,500;
- Robby Anderson needs 181 receiving yards to attain a career high in receiving yardage;
- Jamison Crowder needs 81 receiving yards to attain a career high in receiving yardage. He is also six yards ahead of Anderson for the team lead in receiving yardage, while the pair is also tied with Ryan Griffin on five touchdown receptions;
- There's a battle to be the team's leading tackler with Jamal Adams one ahead of Neville Hewitt and James Burgess;
- Adams can also set an NFL record for sacks by a defensive back if he has two in the final game;
- Jordan Jenkins needs half a sack to exceed his career high and currently holds a half-sack lead over Adams; and
- Braxton Berrios probably has an unassailable advantage for the league lead in punt return average.
Let us know in the comments if you see anything else that's left to play for.
Much more analysis to come later today and over the next few days. Please let us know who you'd like to see us feature in more detail in 3-on-D and 3-on-O.