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 offense:
Right down Jermaine street
Entering the bye, Jermaine Kearse's production seemed to have slowed down and Jets fans were talking about moving on from him after the season as he'd only had nine catches for 116 yards over the last four games. After having had a 100-yard game last week, Kearse exceeded the production from those four weeks on Sunday with 157 yards on nine catches.
Kearse's biggest two catches were a 44-yard deep ball and a 51-yard catch-and-run, but his most impressive was this one:
Kearse's bread and butter was over the middle, as he caught eight of his nine passes while lined up in the slot and four of them for over half of the yardage over the middle. His nine catches came on 10 targets, but three came up short of the marker after all seven of his catches last week had been first downs.
For the second week in a row, Kearse's contributions extended beyond his impressive statline as he drew another three penalty flags to extend drives in addition to his nine catches, all in the second half.
As a blocker, Kearse has been pretty good this year although he failed to sustain his block on one play. Robby Anderson and ArDarius Stewart were considerably worse than he was though.
Anderson has been sensational as a pass catcher over the past several weeks but it's great to see Kearse also stepping up the ante. That Sheldon Richardson trade continues to look like a good deal for both teams.
Lawrence all over ya
With the Jets running the ball 49 times in yesterday's game, it's a good time to check on the progress of converted defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas in his new role as a fullback.
Thomas' best moment was on Bilal Powell's touchdown run as he made a good block on the move, burying his man:
Powell was able to score on the play, despite the fact that the best of the blocking was less than ideal.
There were another two plays where Thomas made an effective lead block but he had three negative plays, including one where the runner ran into the back of him and one where he missed a block and his man assisted on a tackle in the backfield.
In all, Thomas played 19 snaps, with all but two of them being running plays. Those 17 carries netted ... wait for it ... TWO YARDS.
While Thomas himself was not directly at fault for the failure of many of these plays, it does serve as an indication of how unsuccessful the Jets are at running the ball out of run-personnel packages.
By the way, running plays where Thomas was not in the game generated 155 yards on 32 carries - an average of 4.8 yards per carry.
Since missing a couple of games with an injury, Brandon Shell has been much more effective over the last three games. He did a solid job again in Sunday's game, especially in pass protection where he wasn't really troubled.
The Jets seem to be running a lot more on plays where their linemen were pulling out in front and this seems to suit Shell better whether he's the guy pinning down or moving ahead.
Shell is at his best when moving ahead and using his formidable size and power, as he does on this play:
As you can see, the whole right side of the line basically caves the left side of the Chiefs defensive line in, creating room for Matt Forté's run.
He had one other excellent block where he blocked down on his man, driving him well out of the play laterally to create a lane.
However, Shell is still raw technically and made a series of mistakes in the running game. He missed a few blocks at the point of attack, allowed some penetration and failed to sustain his block at least three times.
His errors were at least partially responsible for two runs that were stuffed for a loss and a play that was blown up at the goal line. His man also forced the runner to change direction a couple of times.
One positive is that Shell hasn't been guilty of many penalties so far with just one false start penalty and one for illegal use of the hands so far this season. However, he could easily have been called for one on Sunday on a play where he missed his block at the point of attack and appeared to hold his man back from getting into the backfield.
While there's a lot of room for improvement technically, Shell is starting to find more consistency which is a good sign because he has the strength, size and power to be a good player if he can continue to refine his skills. He's got a long way to go to get there though.
PREVIOUSLY: 3-on-D: Maye, Jenkins, Robinson