Three on D: Lee, Skrine, Ealy

After each game, we're going to highlight three defensive and three offensive players and look in detail at their performance. We'll wrap up today with the defense:

Lee me alone!

Darron Lee has come in for a lot of criticism this season and is not grading out well. After the debacle in Oakland, Lee played much more disciplined football last week, but how did he fare on Sunday?

Lee posted seven tackles, including one tackle for loss on a huge play late in the game. Lee's stuff on the edge with the Jaguars backed up under their own goalposts eventually led to them having to punt from the end zone, which in turn led to the field position that set up the winning field goal.

Earlier in the game, Lee had his struggles again, though, beginning with the first Jacksonville touchdown, which saw him caught up in traffic as Leonard Fournette leaked into the flat:


As usual, Lee was caught up in traffic or blocked out at the second level on a few plays, including the screen pass to Fournette that went for 28 yards and the one which would have been the go-ahead touchdown if not for a downfield hold. Moreover, he also overran a couple of plays, which is worrying because that's what led to those big runs in the Oakland game. He was also wrong-footed, twisting his ankle, on Blake Bortles' 27-yard keeper.

There were some positives though, in addition to the aforementioned run stuff. He was in on another stop in the backfield, made a good open field tackle and was in a good position on two incompletions thrown his way. Also, perhaps his best play of the day was one on which he wouldn't have got the credit. Demario Davis' big hit on Chris Ivory at the line came after Lee filled the hole up the middle and forced Ivory to bounce it to the edge.

I'd like to be able to say Lee was improving in terms of his consistency but that's not really the case. However, at least he's doing some positive things from which he can build confidence.

Let me hear you Skrine

Consistency has also been something that Buster Skrine has been searching for since signing with the Jets in 2015. However, this year, he's adding value by making unexpected contributions in the running game. He had a tackle for no gain in run support on Sunday too.

In this game, he didn't fare too badly in coverage, although he did lose Allen Hurns on his out-breaking route on third down:


Otherwise, he was targeted four other times in coverage for just 14 yards, making a stop in the flat on one and closing for a hit underneath on another.

Skrine was also blocked out of the play on the screen to Fournette, allowing the runner to slip between himself and Morris Claiborne down the field. He was also called for his second penalty of the year on a pass interference call and arguably got away with a hold on another incompletion.

In addition to his run support, Skrine has been helping out with the occasional blitz. He had a sack last week and this week he came unblocked off the edge to force Blake Bortles to throw it away.

Skrine's coverage numbers are still not very good and he has no interceptions and just three passes defensed in his last 10 games, but at least he's making a wider variety of positive contributions than he has in recent years.

Ealy does it

Kony Ealy played just 11 snaps in the first half and didn't generate any statistical production, coming off a week where he missed practice time after his sister passed away. However, he exploded for a monster second half with three pressures and four passes defensed, including an interception.

Ealy did a great job of getting his hands up to deflect passes, batting down three of them, including one on third down in the red zone with under a minute to go. That forced Jacksonville to settle for the game-tying field goal.

However, his best play saw him bat the ball up into the air and come down with the interception to set up a field goal for the Jets:


As a pass rusher, Ealy has had a lot of success by driving his man back and getting to the quarterback on the inside. However, he came up with a vital pressure around the outside late in the game.

Despite his successes as a pass rusher, Ealy had some issues against the run. He was driven off the line twice and pancaked another time. Ealy's only tackle was on a six-yard run by Fournette. This just goes to show that sometimes tackle numbers can be misleading, because Ealy was a difference maker on Sunday and has been a terrific addition so far.

PREVIOUSLY: Maye in the way