Three on D: Jenkins, Kaufusi, Shepherd

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:

Put some Shep in your step

Rookie Nathan Shepherd's playing time has decreased despite the fact that now would seem to be an ideal time to get him more reps. He ended up playing 11 snaps in this game, but only one of these was before Leonard Williams was ejected in the second quarter.

Earlier in the year, the media was implying Shepherd was a bust, based on his low tackle numbers and lack of sacks or impact plays and were critical of the fact he was continuing to get regular playing time. However, he seemed to be improving and figuring out ways to get off blocks and disrupt plays.

His playing time dropped after a game against the Bills that Robert Nunn referred to as "his worst outing so far", but - ironically - that was his most productive game from a statistical standpoint, as he had five tackles.

Since that game, he's averaged 14 snaps per game, whereas he had played more than that (averaging over 26 per week) in each of the first 10 games. Even, so, he's still producing more than he was at the start of the year. He has nine tackles and two quarterback hits in the last six games, having had just three tackles and one quarterback hit in the first six despite playing more.

On Sunday, he was disruptive in his limited action, drawing a hold on a running play, getting into the backfield on another to force the runner to redirect and registering a quarterback hit on this play as he beat the right guard clean with a jerk move:


To some degree, Shepherd has apparently hit the rookie wall and obviously is a victim of the fact that there are four solid veterans ahead of him. Early in the year, he wasn't making any impact at all, but he also wasn't having any negative plays. Clearly, as he's been figuring out which moves he can win match-ups with, he's also left himself susceptible to being blocked out of plays more often.

The best way for him to learn those nuances is to play so it seems senseless to sideline him so that players who might not even be here next year can continue to get reps - especially when the defense hasn't even been doing that well.

Bronson Action

Having been recently called up from the practice squad, we got our first decent look at Bronson Kaufusi this week in a rotational role.

Kaufusi is a bit of a tweener and he played a mixture of snaps at outside linebacker and as an interior lineman. When lined up inside, he was able to use his quickness to get a knockdown on Aaron Rodgers on this stunt:


Other than that play, Kaufusi didn't record a pressure in 25 pass rush attempts. He was only on the field for three running plays and two of those went away from him. On the other, he set the edge but was kicked out to create a lane for a five yard run.

On another play late in the fourth quarter, he let Rodgers escape around the edge on a scramble and missed a diving tackle attempt as he chased after him. That scramble went for 23 yards down inside the five to set up the go-ahead touchdown.

So far, Kaufusi has flashed a couple of times, but hasn't produced much. Still, he seems to be getting plenty of reps ahead of players like Shepherd and Basham. He'll get one more chance on Sunday.

I looked over Jordan and what did I see?

With seven sacks and two forced fumbles, Jordan Jenkins might be viewed by some as one of the Jets' most improved players this year. He only had 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble in the first two years combined.

However, he's actually been disappointing. He only has 34 tackles after having averaged 45 in his first two seasons and his numbers for pressure, coverage, missed tackles and penalties have remained about the same.

Where his game really seems to have suffered is in the running game, as he seems to have been less effective in terms of setting the edge, both in terms of his strength at the point of attack and also in terms of losing contain on outside runs.

On Sunday, Jenkins had just one tackle, on a short pass. He didn't play well against the run as he was badly blocked off the line on one long run and missed a despairing diving tackle attempt on a cutback run that also went for a long gain.

As a pass rusher, Jenkins chased Rodgers from the pocket once and pressured him after bowling over the right guard on this inside move:


However, his overall impact off the edge was underwhelming, following the recent pattern. Maybe he's been a victim of the fact the Jets haven't found an elite weakside rusher to pair him with, so he's had to undertake that role himself at times.

Jenkins is producing in volume, but not really making the impact the team would have hoped from him after a promising first few years. He's shown he has some ability though, so perhaps a change of coach and/or system will re-energize his career.

We'll be back with the 3-on-O tomorrow.