Three on D: Cashman, Poole, Phillips

After each game, we've been highlighting three defensive and three offensive players and looking in detail at their performance. We'll wrap up today with the defense:

Cash over ass

In what could prove to be his last game as a full-time starter for a while, Blake Cashman had another good showing with six tackles. This was also his third consecutive game with a tackle for loss.

Cashman did have one major negative though, as Phillip Dorsett's 25-yard touchdown catch came on a crossing route in behind him. While better pre-snap communication might have prevented this, Cashman was also guilty of peeking into the backfield on the play.

Cashman otherwise held up well in coverage. He gave up another first down on a pass to the flat, but that was on an extremely generous spot by the official as the ball carrier was stopped short of the marker.

While he has obvious potential as a coverage linebacker, Cashman has been better than expected between the tackles. He had stops against the run for gains of three and one and a loss of four during the first half.

When we scouted Cashman during the offseason, we suggested he might be able to mitigate his short arms and avoid getting stuck on blocks by using good anticipation and quickness to get ahead of the blocker.

Here's a perfect example of that as he quickly steps across the center to avoid getting sealed on the outside and uses the leverage advantage to stop the run:


His tackle for loss was an aggressive play too as he shoved the tight end back to get upfield and blow up the outside run in the backfield.

As a pass rusher, Cashman didn't get credited with any pressures, but got close to Tom Brady on an interior rush that collapsed the pocket.

On the basis of his play so far, Cashman has earned himself a role when Mosley returns. It will be interesting to see if those players get any reps together because they could complement one another well.

Crowning Poole

Brian Poole is off to a nice start as Buster Skrine's replacement in the slot. He had 12 tackles to lead the team in Sunday's game, but this wasn't a case of a defensive back making a ton of tackles after having giving up a bunch of catches.

Only two of the 12 plays on which Poole was in on the tackle went for a first down as he only gave up 24 yards on seven targets.

He also made four stops against the run, including on three plays that went for two yards or less.

Poole did get lucky once though, as Julian Edelman completely lost him and got him turned around on this play, only to then drop the ball:


What's exciting about Poole is that - while he hasn't created any turnovers yet in the regular season - he's showing that potential. On one pass, he came up to cut the runner down for a short gain with the ball coming loose at the end of the play. While the runner was ruled down, Poole does have a knack for forcing fumbles on plays like that one - and he's in on a lot of plays like that in space as he had five tackles on passes that went for five or less yards.

In addition to the near-fumble, Poole also almost had an interception as he dived in front of Edelman and had the ball on his fingertips but just couldn't quite keep it off the turf.

This is looking like a really nice signing. Hopefully Poole can keep up the good work and make some impact plays over the next few weeks.

Top of the Kyle

Kyle Phillips has worked his way into the rotation over the past few weeks and got to play 47 snaps this week during which he flashed a few times.

Phillips' best attribute seems to be his motor, as he had two hits on Brady through good effort. He worked his way around Marshall Newhouse on the outside to hit Brady as he threw his second quarter touchdown pass to Julian Edelman and also drew an intentional grounding penalty when his stunt was initially repelled but he eventually found a way to get to Brady.

On the whole, Phillips was mostly stonewalled in pass protection, although the Jets opted to drop extra players into coverage quite a lot so they were often rushing fewer defenders than the number of blockers staying in.

The Jets' run defense played well, but Phillips didn't have a major impact as he was controlled a few times at the point of attack. However, he did record a tackle for loss on this play, which again came from effort:


While the announcer described this as a "pretty play" by Phillips, the rookie actually just cleaned up after the back tried to reverse his field so it was the rest of the run defenders that actually blew this up.

Credit goes to Cashman here for setting the edge superbly by extending his arms to get upfield on the tight end and Steve McLendon for getting downhill laterally to fill a lane. However, it's Jamal Adams who really blows this one up, driving a blocker out of the way and then filling the running lane to force the cutback.

While Phillips had these flashes, we should temper our praise of him at the moment. It's good that he's coming in and playing hard but he's not showing signs of being constantly dominant quite yet. If a more established player had the same production in almost 50 snaps, they'd probably get criticized.

Nevertheless, for a rookie nobody had making the team, anything he can show at this stage is a positive. Having a productive rookie edge could soften the blow from the Jachai Polite pick not panning out, but whether he has anything like the same kind of upside remains to be seen.

Once Jordan Jenkins returns, Phillips might see his playing time fall again, especially with recent additions John Franklin-Myers and Jordan Willis yet to get an opportunity. However, at least he's showing some promise as a potential long-term contributor.

Previously: Three on O: Kalil, Griffin, Berrios