After each game, we've been highlighting three defensive and three offensive players and looking in detail at their performance. We'll begin today with the defense:
Waaa-aaay up I feel Bless-ed
As you may have seen, rookie cornerback Bless Austin was the Jets' highest graded defensive player in his first NFL start. Austin was targeted six times but gave up just three catches for nine yards.
Two plays in particular stood out from Austin in this game. One saw him close quickly on a high throw to a receiver at the marker and his disruption at the catch point caused the ball to be knocked loose. The other saw him pass off assignment in zone coverage to blow up a play at the line of scrimmage as the tight end leaked out into the flat:
Austin was also in good position on two other downfield throws, made a stop on a running play that went for a four yard gain and was able to stop the receiver short of the marker on a 3rd-and-4 completion.
There were some minor negatives to Austin's performance. He missed one tackle on the outside, got blocked out of a play in the flat and was involved in two first downs that were completed into zone coverage near him.
However, considering these last six quarters are the first time he's played since September 2018, prior to which he'd only played five games at the college level since the end of the 2016 season, Austin's progress has been extremely encouraging. Let's see how he fares against a veteran quarterback this weekend, though - assuming he stays in the lineup.
Take it to the Hank
Henry Anderson, who had been banged up in the first half of the year, hadn't been producing much at all so far this season. Entering Sunday's game he had just five total pressures and four stops in six games. Last year, he finished the season with 48 total pressures and 25 stops. On Sunday, he put together easily his best game with five tackles, three stops, a sack and a quarterback hit.
Interestingly, his production was almost entirely contained within two series. First, in the second quarter, Anderson drew a hold to negate a big pass play, then chased Haskins from the pocket to trip him from behind for a sack, before getting to Haskins again for a quarterback hit as he threw from the end zone. That came on three consecutive plays.
Then, in the first series of the second half, Anderson had three run stops in the space of six plays on a Washington drive that stalled in the Jets' half. The first saw him stay at home and then stop Dwayne Haskins for a short gain on a keeper. Then the second saw him shove the tight end back and then crash down to stop the runner for no gain.
On this final one, he drives Brandon Scherff back into the runner and eventually fights off the block to get in on the tackle:
Also worth noting on that play are how Quinnen Williams crashes inside to ensure he gets a double-team and Williams can take Scherff one-on-one and also some good physicality from James Burgess to initiate heavy contact with the right tackle so he can get in on the stop.
Anderson didn't really do anything else in the game, although he was credited with an assist on a short pass. He was only blocked out of one play at the point of attack though.
Hopefully these are signs Anderson is back to 100 percent and he can continue to provide similar production each week from now on. Anderson is under contract for two more seasons after this one.
Let's not get carried a-Maye
Speaking of players who have been less productive this season, Marcus Maye also hasn't been putting up big numbers. He's averaging less than four tackles a game having averaged over five in his first two seasons. He's also not had an interception or forced fumble having totaled five in the 22 games he played those first two years.
Nevertheless, Maye has mostly been playing pretty well. He's done well against the run and has a career high four pass break-ups.
In Sunday's game, Maye had four tackles which included a run stop close to the line and this nice hit on a receiver to force a 3rd-and-short in the red zone:
Maye also had a couple of negatives as he overpursed on Derrius Guice's touchdown as he tried to stop him short of the goal line and got beaten on a jump ball downfield which Terry McLaurin pulled down for a 41-yard gain.
One assumption you might be making to account for the reduction in statistical production is that Maye is playing deeper more often, especially with Gregg Williams having a reputation for playing with an extra-deep single-high safety.
However, Maye has actually been playing in the box and in the slot more often than he did last year, even in Sunday's game where you might have assumed he'd have been playing deep all the time with Jamal Adams wreaking havoc as a pass rusher.
However they're using him, Maye seems to be doing a good job. If he has a strong finish to the season, he'll head into his contract year with excellent momentum.
We'll be back with the 3-on-O tomorrow.