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 defense:
I Chu-Chu-Choose You
It's still somewhat baffling as to why the decision to bench Brandon Shell for Chuma Edoga was made. It seemed like a change for change's sake, because Shell's performance didn't seem to be a major reason for the offensive struggles.
Edoga looked out of his depth at times, but didn't altogether flounder, despite giving up two sacks and being inconsistent in the running game. He also had a personal foul after lighting up a defensive back at the end of a play.
Edoga had a costly negative play in the first quarter on what was perhaps the defining sequence of the game. After Le'Veon Bell was marked short of the marker on second down (despite the fact he clearly had it by a good half-yard), the Jets tried to go for it up the middle. When they got stuffed, they went for it on fourth down and Falk's pick-six made it a two-score game.
Had the Jets picked up the first down near midfield, down just 7-0, perhaps the game would have remained competitive for longer. However, it was Edoga who allowed his man to blow up the third down run:
On the play, Brandon Graham shows quickness to shoot a gap but Edoga still has a chance to give Bell a chance to get to the marker because the interior line gets a bit of a push going. Had Edoga reacted and stayed low to use Graham's momentum against him, he could have driven him out of the play and allowed Bell to cut in behind him. However, he ends up being leveraged into the path of the ball carrier.
In pass protection, Edoga got badly schooled for a sack when left on an island against Josh Sweat and also gave up a strip sack off the edge as he was slow to react to the defensive back's blitz and couldn't recover to prevent him hitting Luke Falk's arm.
To his credit, Edoga only gave up a couple more pressures, although it wasn't always pretty. As for the running game, he didn't make many positive contributions, but had a good kick-out block on one play.
Whether Edoga will remain in the lineup or not remains to be seen, but if he continues to get reps ahead of Shell, the Jets can't afford for him to make rookie mistakes. Otherwise, this will be reminiscent of 2013 when the Jets benched Vladimir Ducasse for rookie Brian Winters after a strong start to the season and refused to reverse the decision even though Winters played poorly the rest of the way.
Alex? Who the *&^% is Alex?
The other offensive line change was due to Kelechi Osemele's injury, although perhaps Osemele was is danger of being benched anyway. In his place, Alex Lewis had a very solid game. In fact, it was arguably the most consistent game any Jets offensive lineman has had so far this season.
Lewis didn't give up any pressure in pass protection, wasn't called for any penalties and didn't have any obvious negative plays as a run blocker.
Here's one play where they ran behind him to convert on 3rd-and-short, a situation where they've been very poor over the last year. Note how his initial bump on the defensive lineman allows Kelvin Beachum to control that block as Lewis climbs to the second level:
Other than that play, Lewis had a few more good blocks, including one on a screen pass and another one down the field.
It would have been interesting to see how the line would have fared if they kept the other four starters the same instead of also making the Shell-for-Edoga change.
It will be interesting to see what they decide to do if and when Osemele gets healthy again.
Panic! At The Wesco
Trevon Wesco was in the starting line-up for the first time in his career and was in the game for a career-high 14 snaps. Unfortunately, it didn't go too well for the rookie, whose man made the stop on the first two plays as the Jets went three-and-out on their opening series.
Later on in the game, Wesco gave up a sack and allowed his man to stuff another run for a loss.
He did show some potential on this play though, as he lined up at fullback in an off-set I formation and found his target well at the second level:
This play is well worth breaking down because it's a sign the offensive line is finally starting to click. Taking every player's assignment individually, you can see that everyone basically did a good job here.
Beachum does enough to prevent his man from getting downhill to disrupt the run in the hole. Winters knocks Fletcher Cox off balance and climbs to the second level well. Ryan Kalil lights his man up at the point of attack. Lewis pulls to the right and finishes off Cox, who is already off balance. Finally, Edoga holds up his end of the bargain on the edge.
With Chris Herndon returning from suspension, it will be interesting to see if Wesco's playing time dries up now. The assumption is that Daniel Brown will be released once Herndon is activated, but maybe that's yet to be decided.
Previously - 3-on-D: Willis, Q.Williams, Johnson.