After each game, we'll be highlighting three defensive and three offensive players and looking in detail at their performance. We'll start today with the defense:
Sauce Gardner is having another terrific season even if the fact he has no interceptions and the Jets' losing record have impacted upon his exposure.
Sunday was another terrific game for Gardner who spearheaded a great effort by a Jets' secondary that broke up 10 passes for just the 8th time since the first time Darrelle Revis left the Jets. (And two of those eight were with him in the lineup during his return in 2015).
Gardner broke up two himself, including a downfield throw on the outside and this one over the middle:
If not for an illegal contact penalty - his fourth flag of the year, but a bad call as the receiver clearly pushed off down the field - Gardner would have had a third pass breakup.
On the second play of the game, Gardner gave up a 13-yard catch and then on the third play he blew up a receiver screen in the backfield. Otherwise he didn't give up anything for the rest of the day, with four unsuccessful targets including one on fourth down.
Gardner had two other tackles, on a five-yard run and a 17-yard run up the middle. He also had a downfield tackle on another catch that was negated by an offensive penalty.
There's no doubt that Gardner is still playing at a pro bowl level, and although he had fallen out of the top-10 in the latest voting numbers you can expect him to make it for a second straight year.
Making his Jets' debut on Sunday was defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes, who was elevated from the practice squad. Holmes, who played as an edge defender for the Jets in preseason but didn't make the team, was recently brought back and found himself in the rotation on the inside for this game.
He didn't get to play very much as he was only in for 13 snaps, of which eight saw him rush the passer without creating any pressure.
Against the run, he didn't hold up too well although there were no big plays with him in. On one play, he was sealed inside as the run went for five. He was also controlled at the point of attack on a run that went for four yards, blocked to the ground on Devin Singletary's one-yard touchdown run and driven back and turned around on this short yardage conversion.
He did have one positive play, though. Although he was initially sealed off, he kept working back to the ball and cleaned up with this run stuff at the line.
Holmes was in until the end of the game so he's probably going to be back in the line-up next week too. Hopefully he can show more of his potential.
Al Woods, Perrion Winfrey and Tanzel Smart all got injured while Quinnen Williams, Solomon Thomas and Quinton Jefferson have all remained healthy. It doesn't bear thinking about how this defense would look if that was the other way around.
Quinnen so much you get tired of Quinnen
Williams is also having a big season which, much like Gardner, isn't getting as much attention as last year due. In Williams' case, it's because his sack numbers are down, although he did get his third of the year in this game.
In Sunday's game, he was in a feisty mood, constantly guessing the snap count so he was in the backfield almost instantly on several occasions. Although he only had two tackles apart from his sack, he also blew up two runs that were stuffed at the line by someone else, once after a missed tackle and the other as he penetrated against a double team.
Williams is - as was stated during the broadcast - the most double-teamed defender in the league. When you try and single-block him, he's basically unstoppable. They tried to scheme a way for Shaq Mason to angle him off here but he showed terrific strength and technique to fight across his face and stop the run.
The Jets have been mixing up who Williams is in the game with, along with his alignment. He was often in a five-technique alignment on passing downs, including on his sack where he beat George Fant. That alignment enables him to stunt up the middle or work upfield against the tackles. He's also been getting reps on the outside at times.
In this game, he was once again productive as a pass rusher. In addition to his sack, he had three pressures and this quarterback hit as nobody on the Texans could stop him getting upfield:
For the season, Williams now has five or more pressures in more than half of the Jets' games.
While he would have been graded down because he got upfield and was sealed off on a few successful runs, and because of his roughing the passer penalty (another soft call), Williams gave the Jets exactly what they require from him every week and his consistent season continues to impress each week.
Three-on-O will follow tomorrow.