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:
Staring down the Darryl
Darryl Roberts was back in his more familiar third cornerback role this week, entering the game on the outside in nickel situations with Buster Skrine reverting to the slot. However, he had his hands full with Devin Funchess, who beat him three times for first downs and also had him beaten on a deep ball that was underthrown and dropped.
Here's one of the plays where Roberts gave up a third and long conversion as he got beaten downfield and hesitated as he tried to get his head turned:
On an earlier play, Roberts had appeared to be in a good position to make a play on the ball but it somehow got to Funchess, who then broke away from him to pick up extra yardage. Roberts gave up on one other first down on the outside.
Other than these three plays against Funchess, Roberts fared pretty well, although he was too far off Greg Olsen on a third down pass and got bailed out by Skrine coming off his man to deflect the pass away. His positional play was generally not bad but he perhaps needed to be stronger at the point of the catch against the bigger Funchess.
Roberts had a nice pass break-up on the first series and was in a good position in coverage on on other incompletion. He also had a touchdown saving tackle on Christian McCaffrey's long run and a special teams tackle on the opening kickoff.
Overall, Roberts seems better suited to a part time role than like this, even though he gave up a few plays to a good receiver in Funchess. He's under contract for next year, so I would expect him to stick around and provide depth.
Drop the Mike?
Mike Pennel did major damage to the Jets' comeback bid when the Jets appeared to have made a third down stop with over two minutes left and a five point deficit. Pennel was flagged for doing this:
The call was obviously correct and probably wouldn't have been made had Pennel not extended his arms to shove Newton to the ground, which was unnecessary and should've been avoidable.
Prior to this mistake, Pennel had been having perhaps his best game as a Jet, getting extra reps due to Steve McLendon's injury and making the most of them with a career high seven tackles. Five of these came on run plays that went for two yards or less, with the other two going for three and four yards. That included a stuff at the goal line as Jonathan Stewart tried to jump over the top.
As noted earlier today, he was sealed to the inside on Jonathan Stewart's short touchdown run, though.
If McLendon's injury is going to keep him out, then Pennel will become a starter, although the Jets could opt to come up with gameplans that don't require him to play many more snaps than he already was as a rotational lineman.
Some were suggesting Pennel should be released to make a strong statement about the unacceptable lack of discipline, but with McLendon hurt, that might not be an option and is perhaps a bit harsh anyway.
The Adams Fallacy
Jamal Adams has had a good rookie season but he had a few bad mistakes yesterday, including this play where he was driven out of his lane, leading to a huge gain:
Adams was also arguably the main player at fault on Kaelin Clay's 29-yard reverse as he bit on the initial flow and then was too far inside to stop Clay from getting to the edge. Other than those two plays, the Jets held the Panthers to less than 2.5 yards per carry, which Adams played a role in as he was in on stops on plays that went for four, three and six yards.
Adams didn't give anything up in coverage, although he perhaps got lucky on an endzone throw to Olsen that was overthrown as Adams was a few steps away. He was also dragged down to the goal line on the play where McCaffrey was uncovered in the flat, although the breakdown appeared to be Marcus Maye's responsibility.
Adams almost had a sack coming off the edge, with Demario Davis completing the sack as Cam Newton stepped up to elude him. He also almost had an interception - stepping in front of a throw for the second week in a row with the quarterback again perhaps just anticipating that at the last moment and throwing wide for an incompletion.
It seems likely Adams will pick one off soon - with a good chance that he'll be able to take it back the other way - but, for now, he's still awaiting his first interception.
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