After each game, we've been highlighting three defensive and three offensive players and looking in detail at their performance. We'll conclude today with the offense:
Wanted in connection with a Robby
Robby Anderson was a bright spot in Sunday's game. Arguably, in fact, the lone bright spot on offense. He ended up with 101 yards on seven catches, his second 100-yard game of the year.
Further underlining our belief that Anderson is at his most effective when he's getting a lot of intermediate targets, Anderson achieved this without a single play longer than 20 yards. However, he had six plays of at least 12 yards. Oh, and no other Jet had a play of longer than 12 yards.
Anderson displayed some good route running to get separation and made a number of tough catches in traffic as well as a low diving catch. He's also shown a willingness to go over the middle as he did on this catch and one other:
Frustratingly, the Jets were again unable to make the connection on a deep ball to Anderson, as Sam Darnold underthrew a potential touchdown and Anderson got both hands under the ball but couldn't hold on as a defender landed on him. Another deep shot wasn't open and there was a fourth down incompletion where it looked like maybe Anderson was interfered with on a back shoulder throw but didn't get the call.
It's concerning that Anderson only seems to produce when Jamison Crowder doesn't and vice versa. Darnold does a good job of spreading the ball around to multiple targets, but often ends up with only one or two players that have decent production. Crowder had just eight yards on NINE targets, so it was not for the want of trying.
With his best production in back-to-back games all season, Anderson is showing signs that he might be able to finish strong like he did last year. However, it's ultimately been a season of missed opportunities for him because his numbers could look a whole lot better than they do if he'd have been used differently and Darnold had thrown the deep ball more consistently all year.
The Shell of fear
Now back in as the starter with Chuma Edoga injured, Brandon Shell didn't have his best game on the face of it, giving up a team-high seven pressures, including two sacks.
Nearly all of this damage was done in the fourth quarter though. Shell gave up one pressure in the second quarter, but that was late in the play and Darnold should have been able to get rid of the ball.
Also, on the sack he gave up in the first quarter, he was put on rollerskates by Carlos Dunlap, but had managed to stay on his man and Darnold might have had a chance to escape had the pocket not collapsed around him. As it was he went down very easily:
In that fourth quarter, Shell played well enough until Dunlap beat him around the edge for a sack. Dunlap then flushed Darnold from the pocket on an inside spin move and had two bull rushes where Darnold hesitated and ended up getting hit as he threw and again was flushed out.
This isn't the first time Shell has played pretty well for most of the game but then struggled down the stretch. Could conditioning be an issue with him? Or perhaps he's more prone to lapses in focus or effort as the game winds down.
Having said that, watching some of Shell's reps down the stretch, this may have just been a case of Shell being on an island against a talented pass rusher who'd been instructed to pin his ears back and empty out his arsenal of pass rush moves to generate pressure.
And, while Shell did get beaten on these plays, he also had some excellent pass rush reps to keep Darnold clean. He repelled a rip move expertly and and stayed on top of an outside spin move having earlier been beaten by the inside spin. Even on those two bull rushes at the end, Shell re-anchored before Dunlap was able to get to Darnold cleanly.
Shell also wasn't bad in the running game, blocking down effectively to set the edge on a couple of plays and making one good block at the second level.
This wasn't Shell's best game by any stretch but a more detailed review gives some assurance that not only did he play reasonably well for most of the game but also is showing some signs of development, even now.
Coming to a Beaching halt
Kelvin Beachum's return was a key factor in the Jets' recent resurgence but he had a rough game on Sunday.
The main factor in Beachum's struggles was his three penalties, which we detailed in our officiating review on Monday. One gave the Bengals a safety, one was on a running play that was stopped for a short gain and one negated a big gain on a screen pass. Our conclusion was that each of these was probably a fair call.
In pass protection, Beachum didn't give up a sack, but was arguably just as culpable as Tom Compton for this one:
Beachum, who was limited all week due to injuries to both ankles, struggled to hold up to the bull rush in the Cleveland game earlier in the year when he was also slowed by an ankle injury. However, perhaps that had more to do with the fact he was facing Myles Garrett.
In all, Beachum gave up six pressures, three of which came near the end of the game as was the case with Shell. He gave up one on an inside move and twice got bull rushed into the quarterback, including once for a knockdown of Darnold.
The Jets running game was ineffective all day with the Jets gaining 14 yards on five carries over the left side. That doesn't sound too bad, but they only got that much because they broke three tackles on those five runs. Aside from the issues with penalties, Beachum let his man get off his block to stuff one run and was stood up at the line a few times.
Even though Beachum had his struggles, it's worth noting that Darnold's numbers were still pretty decent. Once again, despite the added pressure he was under this week - and his own injury issues - Darnold seemingly always plays with more confidence when he has Beachum protecting him.
Previously: 3-on-D: Maye, Williams, Canady