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 offense:
Jonotthan Harrison saw the most action he's seen all season as Ryan Kalil suffered an elbow injury in the second quarter. Although Kalil returned in the second half, he was replaced permanently by Harrison when his errant snap gave New England a third quarter safety.
The Jets held up reasonably well with Harrison in the game and even moved the chains a few times, raising the question as to whether the Jets would be better off with Harrison in the line-up, especially with Kalil hurt. In fact, you might wonder if they'd have been better off with him in there all along.
However, it's difficult to say this, because you would anticipate that making that change could cause lead to further disruption in terms of any progress the team might have made towards playing cohesively as a unit. You can at least say that they didn't noticeably fall apart when Kalil wasn't in the game, so that probably makes it at least worth a try.
With Harrison in the game, there was still plenty of pressure, including on this play where Harrison's man beat him to pressurize Sam Darnold into a bad throw:
In the running game, the Jets only ran a handful of times with Harrison in the game and most of them were stuffed with two called back for holding calls on his teammates. Of the two that weren't, one was an outside run where Harrison failed to make a second-level block. On the other, Le'Veon Bell ran for 11 but that one could easily have been called back for a Brian Winters holding penalty at the point of attack.
In fact, Harrison's best run block came earlier in the game when he led the way on a play where he was lined up at fullback.
We would suspect there will be more chances to evaluate Harrison in more details in the coming weeks.
Starting a Chuma
With Kelvin Beachum out, Chuma Edoga remained in the starting line-up, this time at left tackle. Once again, he had mixed results, but didn't hold up too badly in his blocking assignments.
Where he did struggle was against the New England zero-blitz gameplan, where the Patriots would occupy him by having one player bluff a blitz and then sending someone else before he had a chance to move onto that assignment. Clearly this was something the Patriots knew they'd be able to exploit with the rookie in for the veteran Beachum.
The effect of this can be that you're not fully ready to pick up the rush off the edge because you're left suspecting that player might drop off. Rookie Chase Winovich exploited that uncertainty by setting Edoga up with a bull rush on one play and then, on the next snap, getting Edoga to bite on the outside rush and spinning past him to pressure Darnold into missing a throw:
On that play, Robby Anderson was open coming back to the ball but Darnold threw late and low. He also easily could have checked down underneath to Braxton Berrios for the first down or maybe hit Jamison Crowder on the post pattern, so it was disappointing that the line couldn't hold up to the four-man rush there.
Aside from the Winovich spin move, Edoga didn't allow much in the way of clean pressure. He got beaten outside once and allowed his man to get upfield on him as the Jets ran a screen pass.
He didn't have much impact as a run blocker though. He had one pulling block where he pancaked his man, but even on that play he was a little slow to get out and the back essentially had to slow up to let him through. He also had one play where his man got off his block but missed the tackle and another where he allowed penetration on an inside zone run that got blown up.
Edoga also had two penalties - one on a false start and the other as he was called for holding as his man tried to get off his block at the point of attack on a Bell first down run.
It's still not clear what the Jets will do once Beachum returns. Will Brandon Shell be relegated back to the bench? Edoga could get more chances to play left tackle before the season is over.
Bells and Whistles
With the passing game floundering, Bell at least responded with his best game of the season in terms of rushing yards. He ended up with 70 yards on 15 carries, an average of 4.7 per carry. His previous best was 3.6 per carry, which was last week.
At the same time, he seems to have disappeared from the passing game. Bell has caught just two passes for nine yards in the past two games, having averaged 6.8 catches per game in the first four.
The Jets were looking to involve him in the downfield passing game rather than just dumping it off to him as Bell played 10 snaps out wide or in the slot. This is something the Jets figured would make their passing attack unstoppable this year, but spreading themselves out in this way just ended up making them vulnerable to the Patriots odd-man rush and zero-blitz packages.
Bell showed how he can contribute when left in to pass protect on this play, picking up the blitz to give Darnold time to make a first down completion, even though the left side of the line could have done better:
When the Jets did look to run screen passes to Bell, New England was ready for it, bottling things up. He was essentially hugged by a linebacker on one such play so Darnold had to throw at his feet. His only catch saw him break one tackle to gain six.
It's a shame they can't get the ball to him in space move because he is still looking dynamic whenever he gets a crease. He had one spectacular 19-yard run in addition to the 11-yard run over the right side that could have been called back, plus two other decent gains of nine and seven yards.
Bell had one other first down on a short yardage conversion, plus two first downs - an eight yard run and an 18-yard catch - that were called back due to holding penalties.
It's still not entirely clear what this offense will look like when it's firing on all cylinders - if we even ever get to that stage - but Bell is clearly going to have to be a big part of it. However, if another team was prepared to give up draft capital to take on the remainder of his contract either this year or next, would the Jets hesitate to cash in?
We'll be back with the 3-on-D tomorrow.