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:
With the Jets facing the team that leads the league in pass attempts on Sunday and John Franklin-Myers having been listed as questionable, Carl Lawson was active for just the second time since week six. The only other time he played since then was against the Raiders.
Lawson may just have been elevated mostly as cover but he ended up getting 13 defensive snaps, five of which were when Jermaine Johnson was temporarily sidelined due to an injury.
He played hard but didn't look particularly dynamic as a pass rusher and didn't record a pressure but he did at least have a good run stuff.
Lawson has played in just six games this year, four of which were losses, although they have won in two of his last three appearances. He has just five tackles and two pressures.
Clearly Johnson and Bryce Huff have raised their game to a level where Lawson, who struggled to get healthy in training camp, was no longer viewed as bringing much to the table. With everyone remaining mostly healthy, he hasn't had a chance to prove otherwise even though the team insisted they still had plans for him when they opted not to release him and again when they didn't trade him at the deadline.
Lawson isn't going to be back next year and it will be interesting to see if he shows he has anything left in the tank elsewhere.
The Whole F-M Show
In the end, Franklin-Myers was healthy enough to play 34 snaps, which is more than he's managed in the past two weeks combined. He was credited with four tackles including a tackle for loss and a half-sack and also had two pressures.
Franklin-Myers was credited with his half sack on a play where Jordan Whitehead came off the edge and Sam Howell stepped up to avoid him only to bounce off Franklin-Myers and back into Whitehead's clutches. He was knocked off balance by the Franklin-Myers hit, so that was presumably the justification for giving him partial credit.
Franklin-Myers made two nice plays in the fourth quarter, reacting to a jet sweep to make a solo tackle on Curtis Samuel on the edge. While that play was still enough to convert on 3rd-and-short, he held it to a short gain whereas it could have gone for a big play if he hesitated or missed the tackle.
He also made this terrific run stop as he beat the right guard with a superb arm-over move to blow it up:
Franklin-Myers has been banged up a bit this year and his sack total (3.5) is his lowest since becoming a full-time starter. He's still given them consistent play all season.
Don't be surprised if some writers suggest he should be a cap casualty or forced to take a pay cut next season. If that happens, the idea cannot be mocked strongly enough as he should still be considered a core piece on defense.
This was a unique game for Micheal Clemons, who has been used in the defensive tackle rotation in preseason action but never before in the regular season other than a one-off snap here and there or on passing downs.
With only Quinnen Williams, Solomon Thomas and Jalyn Holmes active, Clemons had to play inside some of the time. However, the Jets tweaked their alignments somewhat so that Clemons was primarily lined up as a five technique opposite the tackle rather than inside and matched up against a guard.
Essentially they were playing some 3-4 base looks with one defensive end standing up, Quincy Williams moving up to the other edge and three down linemen lined up opposite the center and the tackles.
In 16 snaps, Clemons didn't manage to generate any pressure, although he got close on a stunt, and his only tackle was an assist on the Lawson run stuff. Washington had some good success running at him, including on Christian Rodriguez's touchdown as he was driven back off the line by a double team on one of the rare occasions where he was actually inside in a four-man front.
Late in the game, the Jets put Clemons on the edge for the series when they had to stop the run to force Washington to punt the ball back to them. That says everything about where they feel his strengths lie.
Unless he works harder to improve his strength, Clemons isn't really a viable option as a rotational tackle, but can continue to have flexibility around his main role.
It will be interesting to see how it goes if the Jets continue to use Clemons in this way for the final two games of the year.
Three-on-O will follow tomorrow.