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:
To be Nate is to be misunderstood
Nine games into his rookie season, third round rookie Nathan Shepherd's statistical production has been insignificant. Despite starting four games and averaging 25 snaps per game, Shepherd has racked up just six tackles and no sacks.
However, he is becoming increasingly disruptive and Sunday was probably his best game so far as he was a big part of a strong defensive effort by the Jets.
Shepherd was only officially credited with one tackle - an assist on a third quarter stop at the line of scrimmage. However, he helped bottle up some other runs by being solid at the point of attack and limited any negative plays as Miami were held to 2.4 yards per carry and didn't have a rush for more than eight yards all day. He also drew a holding penalty to negate one run.
Shepherd is also contributing more as a pass rusher, as he's had at least one pressure in each of the last four games, having come up empty in three of his first five.
On this play, he shifts before the snap, doesn't fall for the play action fake, shoves Travis Swanson aside and bursts into the backfield to force the quarterback to check it down for a short gain.
Shepherd's gradual progression is extremely encouraging and he's starting to make positive contributions that affect the outcome of the play more and more in recent weeks. Hopefully that will lead to more statistical production in time, but for now, he's playing his part well.
Jamal Adams had another high-impact performance with seven tackles, of which three were run stuffs, including one in the backfield.
Adams also contributed in the passing game, as he batted two passes down on the blitz, including one that looked like a potential touchdown. He also made a third down tackle in the flat and was in good position on two incompletions, including one deep throw down the sideline.
Adams is doing an excellent job of reading plays, exploding to the ball and finishing with efficient tackling, as he does on this play:
Adams had a quiet first quarter, but no negative plays to speak of, other than a play in coverage where he passed off his man in zone coverage and nobody picked him up. However, the pass wasn't completed anyway and that may well have been someone else's fault.
The fact that Adams was making impact plays without any errors is exactly how the Jets need him to play for the defense to function effectively and he's doing it more often than not this season. Unfortunately, the offense couldn't take advantage of the stellar defensive effort to get the win this week.
Jeremiah Attaochu has proven to be a nice pickup on the edge, adding some good depth to a unit that seems to be overachieving based on their preseason expectations. In this game, he led the Jets with three quarterback hits in just 11 pass rush attempts, including his second sack of the season.
Attaochu's first quarterback hit saw him initially double teamed, but he kept working and made a diving hit to knock Osweiler down as he was releasing a pass to an open receiver. The pass was off target as a result, possibly saving a big play. Attaochu was perhaps lucky not to be called for making a low hit there, even though it was more of a trip than a hit at the knees. He was called for one on a bad call in a recent game though.
The Jets continue to look for creative ways of finding pressure and it worked on this occasion as they put Attaochu and Tarell Basham on the same side. Basham dropped into coverage and Attaochu rushed the interior, getting to the quarterback when Henry Anderson's stunt from the other edge drew two blockers:
Aside from his sack, which saw him beat the right tackle around the edge as the quarterback had no escape route due to upfield penetration from Anderson again, Attaochu also came unblocked off the edge for a pressure and stuffed a run for a short gain.
Attaochu might need to contribute more in the weeks to come as Basham injured his knee in Sunday's game so might miss some time. Hopefully he can continue to be just as productive with a bigger workload.
We'll be back with the 3-on-O tomorrow.