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:
On the Burge of greatness?
After just a couple of days on the active roster, it's hardly surprising that former practice squad linebacker James Burgess floundered when tasked with wearing the headset and communicating the defensive calls to his teammates.
Burgess, who isn't even a Mike linebacker by trade, was seen as the best option in that role, becoming the fifth different player to wear the headset since the season began. And that of course doesn't include Avery Williamson, who wore it all last year and would have been the next man up when CJ Mosley went down.
To his credit, Burgess made some plays as he was credited with five tackles. Two of these were on plays that went for no gain, one was stopped for a one yard gain and one came on a dump-off pass to the back in the backfield. He also had one nice hit.
Unfortunately, this was more than offset by multiple negative plays. Burgess had two defensive penalties, four missed tackles and was arguably at fault on all three of Gardner Minshew's touchdown passes.
On the first of the three, Jamal Adams seemed to be playing with outside leverage as the Jets ran a zone coverage that had Adams expecting to have help to his inside when he passed the man off. Unfortunately, Burgess and Brian Poole both went to the same receiver underneath at the goal line, leaving the back of the end zone empty. Even if that wasn't Burgess' fault directly (and it looked like it probably was), he obviously did an inadequate job of making sure everyone knew their responsibility.
The next touchdown saw Minshew break a tackle in the pocket and then throw a 70-yard touchdown pass to a wide open receiver who Burgess had let get behind him. Once again, this looked like his fault, but if it wasn't then it should have been his responsibility to ensure that anyone else in that area (Blake Cashman being the next-closest man) picked it up.
Finally, Minshew again extended the play to find a receiver near the pylon for his final touchdown pass. Burgess had chased the receiver all the way across the field only to stop chasing and try to pass him off to Adams at the last second, but with Adams already occupied by another receiver.
As noted, Burgess also missed a number of tackles which perhaps could have offset some of these mistakes. Here's one where he missed a chance at another tackle for loss.
As for his penalties, one was completely unnecessary as he grabbed the back coming out of the backfield to give the Jaguars a first down instead of being forced to punt from their 12-yard line after Leonard Williams' sack. His helmet-to-helmet penalty then gave the Jaguars 1st-and-goal at the one-yard line instead of 3rd-and-goal at the two.
It's probably unfair to judge Burgess on this game because in an ideal world he would play as a Will or Sam linebacker and without the added responsibility of quarterbacking the defense. However, the Jets need to find a better way of reducing these breakdowns no matter who is relaying the signals.
Rookie Blake Cashman had a productive game on Sunday, as he tied for the team lead with six tackles and added a fumble recovery. However, like Burgess, Cashman probably has a little too much on his plate right now with all the other absences.
Cashman had three run stops close to the line, didn't give up much in coverage and helped force an incompletion with a hit on the receiver coming across the middle. He also had one pressure as a pass rusher and helped blow up this play:
As Cashman was coming out, there was concern that he would struggle to get off blocks, but we were hopeful his instincts and quickness would enable him to get out in front of blocks so he had enough leverage to still make a play and that's exactly what he did here.
Cashman wasn't perfect in this game - he was blocked out of one play at the second level, got beaten for a first down in the flat on another and was involved in the coverage mix-up on the long touchdown. However, he did a good job of limiting negative plays overall and shows signs of being a player that can be all the more efficient as he gets more comfortable and perhaps can be employed in such a way as the maximize his strengths.
To finish with some good news for a change, Folorunso Fatukasi continues to look better and better as he gets more reps on the defensive line. His 40 defensive snaps in this game were a career-high and he delivered with four run stuffs.
Two of those plays came as he stopped consecutive runs for losses in the fourth quarter, holding up well at the point of attack to bottle up each play. He had another stuff where he leveraged his way off his block, but this was his most explosive play:
Fatukasi does a great job on this play, driving Cam Robinson back like he's on roller-skates, then exploding to the ball carrier to stuff the run.
What's also impressive about Fatukasi is his consistency. He was only driven off the line once in the running game, as the Jets held Jaguars running backs to 17 yards on 24 carries if you exclude Leonard Fournette's early 66-yard run (on which Fatukasi was not in the game).
He's not a complete zero as a pass rusher either. Fatukasi burst into the backfield a couple of times, getting a pressure on one play and drawing a hold on another.
It would be premature to suggest that Fatukasi will replace Williams and the Jets won't miss a beat, especially since he's been doing most of his damage one-on-one. However, he has been dealing with double-teams better this year so getting him more and more reps and seeing if they can develop him into a consistent contributor seems like a smart play.
We'll be back with the 3-on-O tomorrow.