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:
The only Tru failure is when you stop trying
Jets fans are starting to grow very impatient with Trumaine Johnson, who signed a $72 million contract during the offseason. Johnson made his return for just his fifth appearance of the season.
Before going down with a quad injury, Johnson had played quite well, aside from a bad lapse against the Jaguars that led to Donte Moncrief beating him over the top for a long touchdown. However, any efforts to prove that play was uncharacteristic were undermined by the fact that Robert Foster burned him over the top on the first play of the game for a 47-yard gain:
Over the rest of the game, Johnson only gave up 25 yards on four targets, but that included a couple of third down conversions for Zay Jones. It also seems likely that Johnson was at fault on Andre Holmes' 22-yard catch. Johnson was communicating with Jamal Adams prior to the snap and the receiver on his side ran a crossing route and was uncovered as Johnson seemed to be playing zone while everyone else was in man.
Any Jets fan who expected Johnson never to give up anything in coverage was always destined to be disappointed, as he's always been a guy who holds his own and gives as good as he gets in tough match-ups, rather than completely shutting down top players. However, mental lapses and poor effort, as he showed on at least one tackle attempt, are less easily forgiven.
Clearly, he's not playing up to his usual standards right now if he's giving up big plays to practice-squadders, although Morris Claiborne also gave up a big play to Foster later on.
Johnson needs to get back to 100 percent and prove what he's capable of during the remainder of the season.
Buster Skrine didn't have a very good game either, as he had a tough time with Zay Jones in the slot. Jones beat Skrine over the top for 33 yards and had two other first down conversions and a touchdown against him.
Jones also caught a third down pass near the goal line that ended up leading to a Bills touchdown after he fumbled the ball into the end zone. On that play, Skrine wasn't covering Jones. He should have been though, as Skrine dropped off and covered the inside slot receiver, who was already covered, and left Jones alone.
Just as disconcerting than Skrine's struggles in coverage was the fact that he missed two tackles, including one where he simply threw a shoulder at the ball carrier with sloppy technique. Here was the other:
Again, everyone gets beaten in coverage sometimes, but the mental errors, bad technique and poor effort plays are within your control. A veteran like Skrine needs to set a better example for his teammates.
A cold day in Pennel
On a brighter note, defensive tackle Mike Pennel played a season high 31 snaps and had a productive day with five run stuffs. Pennel was officially credited with being in on the tackle on five runs that went for two yards or less, including three for no gain.
Here's one example, as Pennel flows downhill, then tosses his blocker onto the floor to wrap LeSean McCoy up for no gain at the line:
While Pennel didn't generate any direct pressure this week, he's shown that he can create a good surge in the pocket in passing situations. He was only on the field for six pass plays this week.
Pennel has quietly had a very consistent season against the run and actually now has the best defensive grade on the entire team according to pro football focus. He's still under contract for two more years and looking like a shrewd pickup that could handle a starter's workload over the next few years.
We'll be back with the 3-on-O tomorrow.