Three on D: Ealy, Skrine, Lee

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:

Too Lee-git to quit?

It was another mixed bag from Darron Lee this week, but it was good to see him making an impact play with his forced fumble in the first half. However, his mistakes were still too numerous.

Lee was only blocked out of a play at the second level a couple of times this week and his tackling was mostly reliable. He had one missed tackle on a play that was negated by a penalty anyway and another where he almost made the stop in the backfield and basically blew the play up even though he didn't finish the play.

Lee gave up three first down catches in coverage, though, including this one on a high throw to Rob Gronkowski where Lee was in a good position, but wasn't able to get himself turned around so he could make a play on the ball:


The other two first downs he gave up were worse than this one though, as he was caught peeking into the backfield and let Gronkowski sneak behind him for an wide open first down over the middle and then let the running back get behind him for a pass over the top on third and long. That play could easily have been called as a pick play though, because the receiver very deliberately cut him off with the ball in the air and, while you're entitled to do that within a yard of the line of scrimmage, the blocker was 1.5 yards past the line at the point of contact.

Lee also had a play where the runner dragged him for five extra yards after contact and also had a cheap penalty when he pushed a lineman's helmet off basically after a play was over.

In addition to his forced fumble, Lee was in on three nice stops close to the line and made a good coverage play on third down in the first half. However, he didn't really have any more positive plays in the second half.

Kony Island, baby

Kony Ealy's return was a welcome boost and he continues to bring good pressure off the right side.

On this play, he beats his man with an inside move, forcing Tom Brady to step up and allowing Leonard Williams to apply pressure. The exact same thing happened on one other play and that was basically the only two times Williams got to Brady:


In addition to also hitting Brady once off the edge, Ealy deflected two more passes at the line of scrimmage and now remarkably has six passes defensed in his last two games. That's more than Darrelle Revis had all last season.

Maybe the only negative play Ealy had was on a 3rd-and-long where he tried to make a spin move, got repelled and lost his balance. That meant Brady had a ton of time because there was only two other players rushing and he eventually found a receiver open for an easy conversion.

Ealy didn't contribute much against the run, although there was one play where he got upfield well, leading to the run being stuffed up the middle. The disruption he causes in the passing game has been a welcome boost, though.

Stars of the big Skrine

On the face of it, Buster Skrine had a monster game. He recovered a fumble, stuffed a run, drew a holding penalty, broke up two passes and topped it all off with this interception:


However, there were still a lot of plays where he let himself down. Skrine had a defensive holding penalty, missed a tackle in the hole, gave up three first downs in the first half, including the play in the Ealy section above, and benefited from receivers he was covering failing to bring in three apparently catchable passes.

On his first pass break-up, Skrine made a great jump and an athletic play to get to the ball, but perhaps should have intercepted it. On the second, he was beaten deep and, while he recovered well, it would probably have been an easy touchdown had David Bass not hit Brady as he threw it, leading to an underthrow.

Overall, though it was a positive performance from Skrine, who gave up just 40 yards on 10 targets and is having his best season as a Jet. He's actually Pro Football Focus' #1 ranked cornerback against the run this year and has just three penalties in six games.

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