After each game, we're going to highlight three defensive and three offensive players and look in detail at their performance. We'll wrap up today with the offense:
Once upon a time in the Wes
Jets fans knew they were in for a rocky ride once the team parted ways with Nick Mangold. Wesley Johnson has been trying his best, but after having probably his worst game of the season against the Bucs, he struggled even more on Sunday.
The game actually started quite well for Johnson, who had three good run blocks in the early going. However, things went downhill from there as he allowed his man to penetrate and shed his block to stuff a run, then whiffed on a block at the second level before allowing penetration that led to a run being stuffed for a loss.
In the first half, he held up quite well in pass protection, but gave up a pressure late in the half with his man coming in low.
In the second half, Johnson really struggled in pass protection, letting his man get past him to pressure Josh McCown on four occasions with one leading to a big hit and another leading to Johnson being called for a hold. He also had a few more negative plays against the run.
Here was a rare positive play from Johnson but even this shows poor technique as he gets out in front on a screen pass, fails to knock down the defensive player with his cut block and then somehow avoids getting flagged for grabbing the him around the ankles:
Aside from his questionable technique, Johnson's inexperience seems to be having a knock-on effect on the rest of the line and how the group plays as a unit. It's impossible to say who was at fault for the sack that led to Luke Kuechly's game-winning fumble return, but the communication was obviously to blame because Lawrence Thomas and Brandon Shell double teamed the edge rusher and Brian Winters blocked down to double team a defensive tackle, leaving a defensive end completely unblocked.
After the last two weeks, Johnson is grading out as the worst center in the league by some margin and is close to being the worst graded offensive lineman as he currently ranks in the bottom five. At this stage the Jets will probably be hoping they can upgrade the position next year and that this will elevate the unit significantly.
Quit playing James with my heart
One player whose performances may be indirectly affected by Johnson's struggles is James Carpenter, who - along with the rest of the line - is having a poor year.
Here's a rare positive play that sprung Bilal Powell for a nice run, but even this only just worked out, as Carpenter and Brian Winters just about managed to seal their men to the outside and the gap stayed open just long enough for the back to squeeze through, like a set of faulty elevator doors:
Carpenter had a solid first half, making some good run blocks and no serious mistakes, although he was bull rushed into the backfield on one play and didn't make his block cleanly on the screen play in the earlier gif.
After halftime he failed to sustain his block on a couple of occasions, allowed a sack on a stunt and was stood up on a run that was bottled up. He also may have been at fault on that play that led to the Kuechly touchdown.
It's not easy to evaluate whether Carpenter - who is still only 28 - is breaking down or if his play will improve once they upgrade some of the players around him. His contract is up after next year and you have to wonder if any of the current starters or back-ups will be here in 2019. Winters, Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell are the only ones who will still be under contract then, but none will be owed any more guaranteed money at that point.
Robby Anderson justifiably got plenty of attention for his great performance, while Austin Seferian-Jenkins was also heavily featured for different reasons, let's not overlook Jermaine Kearse, who had his first 100-yard game as a Jet.
He quietly surpassed this milestone by padding his stats on the last play as he took a dump-off pass and then was tackled before he could set off a chain of desperation lateral passes.
Kearse's biggest play of the day saw him make a nice move to generate some yards after the catch, something the Jets don't seem to do much of on downfield passes:
Kearse was effective out of the slot, mainly on slant-type routes over the middle. He caught all five of his targets for 90 yards from the slot, but just two for 15 yards on five targets when lined up outside, although that did include his touchdown.
One of his incompletions was a play where he and McCown got their wires crossed and Kearse ran downfield while McCown threw behind him, expecting him to stop.
In addition to his team-leading seven catches, Kearse also drew three flags that gave the Jets first downs, including a pass interference penalty to set up
Austin Seferian-Jenkins' touchdown a field goal.
Kearse's productive game wasn't enough to get the Jets a win and the offense might be more potent if the ball was spread around a little more in the passing game. However, he's been good value and should probably have a role with the team next year.
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