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:
Jamien Sherwood had only played 22 snaps since week three, but was in the starting lineup for this game and out there for 15 defensive snaps. Presumably the Jets planned for more base personnel packages on the basis that they didn't expect the Raiders to put the game on the arm of their rookie quarterback.
It was about as active as you can get in 15 snaps from Sherwood, as he had seven tackles, a pass defensed and a forced fumble.
However, that doesn't completely tell the story. Two of those tackles came on special teams (a category in which Sherwood now leads the Jets with six) and none of the other five came within three yards of the line of scrimmage.
He made an opportunistic play when he ripped the ball away from Josh Jacobs in a pile for a potentially crucial fourth quarter turnover and also deflected this pass for an incompletion.
Sherwood was a little late filling on a couple of run plays but didn't miss any tackles. There was one major mistake though as he bit on a play action fake and Davante Adams was able to get behind the defense for a 42-yard gain. These are the coverage breakdowns the Jets haven't been seeing when Sherwood is out of the lineup.
The Jets' linebackers have played superbly this season and Sherwood has played a minor role, making a few rotational contributions here and there. The concern is still that he will make exploitable errors if he ever has to play a more significant role due to injuries.
Solid Man Thomas
Solomon Thomas hasn't been grading out well against the run all year but he held his own on Sunday night with only one negative play that saw him driven off the line. He was in on two stops on plays that went for gains of four and two.
Thomas, who played 23 defensive snaps in all, also came up with a sack late in the first half.
On the play, he dominated Greg Van Roten, giving a masterclass in how to get upfield in the pocket and then disengage to take down the quarterback when he stepped up. The Jets would love to see more plays like this from Thomas.
For the season, Thomas has been generating pressure at a slightly better rate than last year and has already made more impact plays. He had just half a sack and two tackles for loss last year but already has 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss in 2023.
Thomas may have been expecting his role to increase somewhat when Al Woods went down, and that may be the plan now that Tanzel Smart was released again and, as things stand, his playing time has increased slightly. However, the team might give Perrion Winfrey a chance to contribute and if he makes an early impression, this could eat into Thomas' reps.
Quinnen Williams saw a lot of media attention this week, with the main topic of conversation being that everyone wanted to emphasize how well he is playing despite the fact that he only entered the game with half a sack on the season.
The Jets have seen defensive linemen who draw a lot of attention being disruptive but not making impact plays a few times in recent years, including with Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams. As the Jets signed Williams to a big offseason deal, it seems likely they are going out of their way to point out how happy they are with Williams' contributions rather than see a situation where he comes under criticism and faces more pressure from fans and media.
The comments are accurate, of course, and there are plenty of advanced analytics that allow us to see the Williams still has been elite against the run, is generating pressure at a higher rate than he ever has before and is generally disruptive and winning his matchups.
In this game, he had four tackles, batted a pass at the line and was credited with another half sack on a play where he collapsed the pocket with a big bull rush.
He had several pressures in all, the most impressive of which was arguably this one where he lined up as an edge defender to bull rush the tackle into the quarterback's lap.
Against the run, Williams showed his quickness to blow up one run in the backfield and bottled up two other runs for short gains where he was credited with the stop.
Williams will hopefully ignore the noise and not let any pressure from fans or media to make more impact plays affect how he carries out his assignments as players like Kerry Rhodes have in the past.
Three-on-O will follow tomorrow.