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:
Move a Long
One of the most interesting aspects of this week's game was that the Jets moved center Spencer Long to guard. This makes some sense, given that Long has started at guard before and had been struggling to snap the ball due to his finger injury. However, it was likely prompted by James Carpenter's absence.
Back when the Jets signed Long, we broke down his film in detail and the trend revealed was that Long was a more consistent run blocker when at guard and a more consistent pass protector when at center. That proved to be the case on Sunday as he had one of his better run blocking performances of the year - albeit that the Jets didn't run very often - and one of his weakest pass protection performances.
Long gave up a season-high four total pressures, including three quarterback hits as the Patriots created plenty of interior pressure with stunts and blitzes.
In the running game, this was easily Long's best highlight:
This is a move the Jets could have considered sooner, but presumably they see Carpenter and Winters as an upgrade over Long at guard if both are healthy.
Keep calm and Harrison
The one drawback to the moving Spencer Long to guard plan is that it means Jonotthan Harrison has to move to center and while his ability to successfully snap the ball to the quarterback is a desirable trait, he struggles in some other key areas, including blocking.
Harrison was pretty ineffective in the running game. He did make one good seal block but the gain on that run was negated by a hold on someone else anyway.
Harrison was also responsible for some interior pressures and this hit on Josh McCown:
He also had a costly holding penalty at the end of the third quarter on a run that went for no gain anyway. This came as the Jets had driven into New England territory down by seven. The penalty caused the drive to stall and the Patriots scored the clinching touchdown on the ensuing possession.
The other drawback to this configuration is that it's unclear what happens when Carpenter can return. Long implied he expects to remain at guard for a while. So does Long go to the bench? Has Carpenter lost his spot? Or will Long have to return to center as soon as he can return? We'll presumably find out soon.
You live and Hern
Rookie Tight End Chris Herndon had another productive game this week, as he racked up a season-high seven catches for 57 yards. Four of these were just underneath dump-offs but he also had three first downs. One of these saw him wide open for 20 on the outside. Another saw him make a tough catch right at the marker. Finally, he picked up some nice yardage after the catch after catching the ball in stride on a crossing route.
Herndon was only unsuccessfully targeted once on a play where Dan Fouts correctly noted that McCown probably expected him to sit down in the soft spot in the zone coverage and ended up throwing behind him.
Perhaps more interesting than his pass-catching production this week was that he showed some positive flashes as a run blocker. We've been critical of Herndon's run blocking but this was probably his most consistent performance from that standpoint, albeit again with a smaller-than-ideal sample size.
This was perhaps the best example. It's not much, but it's something, and certainly better than he would usually fare earlier in the season:
If Herndon can block with more consistency, he can be on the field more and will be that much more effective when he does leak out and ring his route.
Sure enough, he was on the field for a season-high 64 snaps in Sunday's game and you can expect him to continue to see more action down the stretch.
PREVIOUSLY: 3-on-D: Luvu, Shepherd, Roberts