After each game, we've been highlighting three defensive and three offensive players and looking in detail at their performance. We'll begin today with the defense:
Qwill our fears
Quinnen Williams officially only had two tackles and no quarterback hits in Sunday's game but settled fears that he's run into some kind of rookie wall by making a series of positive contributions.
He had two run stops, including one in the backfield, but also penetrated into the backfield to affect three other runs. In addition, he walked his man back into Andy Dalton's lap three times in the first half.
This was his best play though - and he did it against Trey Hopkins, who is grading out as the Bengals' best offensive lineman:
Williams may not have exhibited as much explosion as we'd like, having dealt with a high ankle sprain in the first half of the season and is still learning how to get off blocks, but his power at the point of attack is already at an impressive level.
What's notable - and reminiscent of Muhammad Wilkerson once he started to establish himself in his early years - is that he's not getting blocked off the line. In fact, the only negative play you could really pin on him was a Joe Mixon run where Williams initially penetrated but then wasn't able to react when Mixon cut back the other way to pick up a first down.
We'll see if this translates to more statistical production in the final month, but he's definitely playing his part in a run defense that has put together a series of impressive performances.
There were limited opportunities for Williams to add to his pass rush numbers late in the game as Andy Dalton only threw one fourth quarter pass - an incomplete dump-off to the back - but the earlier pressures are hopefully a sign his production will soon start to increase as a pass rusher too.
Although Darryl Roberts was back in the line-up, it's telling that the Jets turned to Maurice Canady when Brian Poole got injured. Canady remained on the outside when Arthur Maulet got injured, with Roberts reverting to a less-than-familiar slot role. Maulet had previously moved inside and the two next-best slot options, Kyron Brown and Nate Hairston, were both inactive.
Canady had eight tackles and a pass defensed but gave up three first downs, including two on 3rd-and-long. Otherwise, he only gave up one short catch and he did have this impressive pass break-up:
On the two third downs he gave up, one saw him playing too far off his man in a zone blitz that required the Jets to drop some edge rushers into coverage. The receiver was able to stop just beyond the marker for a low catch. The other saw him correctly pass his man off to Marcus Maye in zone coverage as a linebacker dropped off to cover the deep middle, but Canady just wasn't quite able to recover as the slot receiver sat down in the soft spot.
Canady also came up to make a stop for a short gain in the flat and made a tackle short of the marker on an underneath throw. With more injuries in the secondary coming out of Sunday's game, it seems likely he's going to get even more playing time. One of Roberts, Hairston and Brown will be in the rotation too, if both Brian Poole and Arthur Maulet cannot go.
You Maye fire when ready
Marcus Maye has been a key to the Jets recent success and watching the all-22 footage gives you a sense of how important he has been to their zone coverage schemes.
On Sunday, he found himself arriving just too late to prevent a number of plays, although the only significant play he gave up in direct coverage was a leaping catch by the 6'5" Auden Tate. There wasn't much he could do about that one.
As noted on Sunday, he was involved in a couple of blown coverages that ended in incompletions but should have been big plays. However, as we discussed in this week's Nuggets, Maye didn't appear to be the man at fault on either of these. Likewise, Andy Dalton's touchdown pass was zipped in front of him at the goal line, but that was after the receiver had split the two inside linebackers in zone coverage.
Some things are within his control though and this missed tackle - although the play was negated due to a penalty - was disappointing:
Maye was credited with just two tackles on defense in this game, plus one more on a kick-off. One was on the Tate catch and the other was on a nine-yard run. However, he was responsible for a third down stop short of the marker in the third quarter that got credited to someone else.
As a sign of how disrupted the Jets' defense has been this year, Maye and Steve McLendon will be the only two starters to have played every game, assuming Jamal Adams and Brian Poole miss this weekend's game as seems likely. After this week, Maye will also be leading in total snaps. It's good that his durability concerns are something of the past but let's see how he handles the challenge of not having Adams alongside him for the next few weeks.
We'll be back with the 3-on-O tomorrow.