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:
If it ain't Huff, it ain't me
You always hope for an underused youngster to flash in these meaningless end of season games and Bryce Huff certainly did that on Sunday.
Huff ended up with a sack and a quarterback hit in limited action, displaying some impressive one-on-one pass rushing moves of the kind the Jets don't generally see enough of from their edge defenders.
On his first half sack, Huff showcased a good dip-and-rip move as he ducked under his man and transitioned into a rip move to generate immediate pressure:
He easily could have had a second sack after another clean beat to generate immediate pressure. Cam Newton was just strong enough to get rid of the ball and barely avoided a grounding call because his tight end was in the general area (and wide open, but only because Matthias Farley was blatantly picked):
This is more of a cross-chop move as Huff makes a jab step to the inside and gets the left tackle's hands off him. This is the one move that Chase Young mastered in his senior year to transform himself from a potential top five pick into a definite top three pick.
Although Huff didn't register any other statistics other than on these two plays, he had another where he got into the backfield to force Cam Newton to step up and it would be interesting to see how productive he can be if given more opportunities next season.
Please Lamar, don't hurt 'em
After his error at the end of the Raiders game, Lamar Jackson might have felt he'd never see the field again on defense with this team, but the team seems happy to throw Gregg Williams under the bus following his departure so Bless Austin's illness afforded the undrafted rookie a chance for one last start.
In coverage, he gave up just two catches on five targets, with just one first down, although he did get half-beaten on another play where the pass was dropped. Jackson also had this nice pass breakup down the field:
In the end, Jackson had five tackles, including one where he was in on a run stuff near the line of scrimmage.
For the season as a whole, Jackson wasn't expected to contribute much but was thrown into the fire and ended up playing over 450 snaps. He made some good contributions against the run but needs to work at being more consistent in coverage because he got beaten for five touchdowns.
He'll be one of several young players in the mix to try and prove themselves worthy of a rotational roster spot next season, although you can expect the Jets to invest in some upgrades so he'll have competition to make the team.
N.Y. Nate of Mind
Nathan Shepherd, like his fellow 2018 draft pick Chris Herndon, is another Jet who had a disappointing season only to play his best football in the final month.
Overshadowed for much of the year by his fellow defensive linemates, Shepherd had just one solo tackle (seven combined) and three total pressures with three weeks to go in the season. However, he's recorded seven solo tackles (10 combined) and seven pressures (including two sacks) over the past three weeks.
Shepherd had another solid performance on Sunday, as he racked up four tackles, all of which came on run stops within three yards of the line of scrimmage. He was also only driven off the line once.
While he just had a couple of pressures, Shepherd was still disruptive on passing downs. On this play, working one-on-one against 2019 second team all-pro Joe Thuney, he keeps his hands active to work his way upfield and reacts to Newton stepping up to register a knockdown:
On the play, Shepherd was arguably lucky not to get penalized for a low hit and Newton perhaps could have got away from him anyway if he'd committed to taking off but it's still interesting to see him move an established talent like Thuney off his spot.
Shepherd was another player the Jets were probably considering dumping during the offseason until recently. However, his play over the past three games makes him worth bringing back for the final year of his rookie deal.
Previously - Three on O: Herndon, Van Roten, Johnson