Three on D: Cooper, Skrine, Ealy

After each game, we're going to highlight three defensive and three offensive players and look in detail at their performance. We'll start today with the defense:

Hanging with Mr. Cooper

Xavier Cooper already had an expanded role yesterday with Muhammad Wilkerson's absence, but then Leonard Williams got hurt and he had to play full time. The defense held up pretty well considering.

Having said that, they only had one quarterback hit - but it was Cooper himself who provided it, beating his man at the line and setting up Williams' interception:


Officially, Cooper was credited with four tackles of which one was on an outside run where he was one of several Jets who gang-tackled the runner for a loss. He also bottled up the runner on a couple of three yard gains and twice showed good effort to chase down a back downfield after a dump-off pass, although one of these was negated by a penalty.

He didn't create any pressure other than his hit on the interception, but he did get some good traction on a couple of bull rushes.

Cooper held up quite well at the point of attack although he was driven off the line by a double team a couple of times. Both plays only went for short gains though.

I can't imagine anyone mistaking Cooper's performance for the kind of disruptiveness Wilkerson used to provide when at his best, but he's making a strong case to stick around as a depth option going forwards.

Skrine Machine

Buster Skrine has been inconsistent this year, but he's had more good games than bad ones and this was another decent performance.

Skrine gave up just 32 yards on nine targets and the biggest play he gave up was also his best play of the day, as he did this:


Another good play saw him jump a route to break up (and almost intercept) a sideline throw. He added five tackles, one of which was a tackle for loss in the flat. He also disrupted one other pass and was in on a run stop.

He had one major negative though, missing his tackle on the long clinching touchdown run by Mark Ingram.

Since Skrine said penalties don't bother him and Todd Bowles reacted by saying he felt otherwise, Skrine has gone four straight games without any penalties. He's a much better player when he plays with this kind of discipline and that increases his chances of being back next year.

One trick Kony

Earlier in the year, Kony Ealy looked like a great find. Ealy was creating constant pressure off the edge, batting down passes regularly and making occasional plays in the running game.

However, his production has completely tailed off. In his first six games, Ealy had 10 tackles, eight passes defensed and an interception. Since then, he has just four tackles, just one pass defensed and is averaging less than two pressures per week since week four.

While he had a sack in week nine, that's his only one of the season and he hasn't otherwise had a quarterback hit since week three.

On Sunday, Ealy played less than 20 snaps for the second game in a row and once again made no impact with no tackles or quarterback hits. He was also driven off the line twice, including on this play:


In terms of pass rush, he didn't beat his man at all, as he was generally directed upfield quite easily. The only time he got pressure on Brees was because they gave him a free release to try and set up a screen pass.

Earlier in the year it looked like retaining Ealy would be a priority for 2018, but since the first month, he's been consistently outperformed and outproduced by David Bass.

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